(June 7, 1996) On 24 May, the Taiwanese parliament voted to cancel the financing of the fourth nuclear power station project by a 76-42 margin, but the ruling Nationalist Party said the cabinet would ask parliament to review the case.
(453.4488) WISE-Amsterdam - The Democratic Progressive Party's legislative caucus hailed the budgetary overturn in parliament as a "major victory for the anti-nuclear activists". The cabinet under President Lee Teng-hui and Premier Lien can contest parliament's action formally by sending it back for reconsideration.
Parliament's decision will be sent to cabinet, which can adopt it as the new policy or reject it. Rejection by the cabinet can be overruled by a two-thirds vote in parliament; the cabinet has to accept such an overruling or resign.
Just two days after the parliament vote, however, Taipower announced that General Electric Co (GE) had won a tender to supply two nuclear reactors and related equipment for the controversial fourth nuclear power plant.
Democratic Progressive Party deputies have petitioned to impeach Premier Lien Chan for not halting the tender. They said Lien, economics minister Chiang Ping-kun and Chang Chung-chien, chairman of the state-owned Taipower Co, had gone ahead despite the knowledge that parliament had voted to cancel funding. According to Taipower officials, GE won the bid with US$1.8 billion, a price "lower than our base price". Some sources said the bidding price of the U.S.-based GE was US$200 million lower than Taipower's base price. But Taipower refused to confirm the report.
Under the tender's terms, any successful bid could be revoked if the government's budget for the project is cancelled. The contract automatically becomes void once Taipower does not give notice to proceed within four months. Since the cabinet may have a reshuffle in June, it will probably make the final decision after the reshuffle. GE, Westinghouse Electric Corp and ABB Asea Brown Boveri unit Combustion Engineering Inc of the United States participated in the bidding.
Taiwan approved plans for the US$4.1 billion, 2,700-megawatt plant in 1994 after years of delays and protests triggered by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On 3 September 1995, 5,000 demonstrators marched through the capital, Taipei, to urge the government to drop the plan to build the fourth reactor. On 29 May 1994, an even larger demonstration took place: 20,000 people took to the streets. Taipower produces 21,900 megawatts of power annually, about 23.5 percent of which is generated by three nuclear power plants. Taipower says total output must rise to 36,000 megawatts by 2002 if power consumption is to keep pace with Taiwan's economic growth.
Contact: Edgar Lin, Anti-Nuclear Coalition for Taiwan.
Tel: +886-2-759 7988.