Plan to reactivate retired coal-fired power plant near Keelung in northern Taiwan stirs up controversy

More controversy is expected as Taiwanese government’s plan to reactivate a retired coal-fired power plant near Keelung City in northern Taiwan gained ground

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Shenao Power Plant

Shenao Power Plant (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—More controversy is expected as Taiwanese government’s plan to reactivate a retired coal-fired power plant near Keelung City in northern Taiwan gained ground.

The analysis of the environmental impact of Shenao Power Plant, which is located in Ruifang District of New Taipei City, was approved by the government on March 14.

Coal-fired generators of Shenao Power Plant were decommissioned in 2007, but Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) has planned to reactivate the plant by using the ultra-supercritical power generation technology on the air pollutant emissions to meet the electricity demand.

Taiwan Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) comment following the approval of the environmental impact analysis that " Shenao Power Plant will use clean coal" to generate electricity has stirred up backlash.

Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) told reporters Sunday that the ultra-supercritical power generation technology will only emit about the same level of pollutants as natural-gas-fueled power plants.

However, governments of municipalities most likely to be affected if the reactivated power plant goes into operation have strongly voiced their objection.

New Taipei City Government has said it would not issue a permit for burning coal.

Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said the city government's position on the project is that the power plant cannot increase the current pollution level of the city.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of Taipei City Government has called for rejection of the project due to air quality concerns.

The DEP said it opposes projects that can set back Taipei’s efforts in improving air quality. It urges Taipower to consider alternative solutions.

The agency cited a simulation carried out by Tai Power, which showed an average maximum PM 2.5 concentration growth of 1.733 μg/m3 over a 24-hour period and an average maximum growth in ozone concentration of 1.2 ppb over an 8-hour period for Taipei City once the power plant begins operation.

The DEP furthered that among the air pollutants discharged from coal-fired power plants, PM 2.5, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, arsenic, and chromium are listed as IARC Group 1 carcinogens. Besides, with mercury constituting the majority of emission content from coal-fired power plants on this island, impact of these hazardous substances should be assessed for future coal-fired power plant projects, the agency suggested.