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Taiwan announces green light for reactors' construction

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(April 9, 1999) Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council (AEC) gave the green light to the construction of Taiwan's seventh and eighth nuclear plant on March 24, ending a 17-month examination process. The announcement was followed by two days of student protests, outside the AEC's offices in Taipei. On March 28, more than 3,000 people protested peacefully.

(508.5003) WISE Amsterdam - The nuclear power plant, consisting of two units, to be located on Taiwan's northeast coast in the town of Kungliao, is expected to go on line by June 2005, with a total capacity of 2700 MW. It will bring Taiwan's gross installed nuclear power generating capacity to 7800 MW, about one third of the island's total installed capacity. State-owned Taiwan Power Co, tried to quiet the outcry but said construction would move ahead shortly. The Atomic Energy Council said its nearly two-year review and 9,000 pages of documentation concluded the US$4.8 billion project "adequately ensured public health and safety". US giant General Electric Co. will supply the reactors and generators for US$1.8 billion. Plant superstructure has been under construction for three years.

On the eve of the March 28 mass protest against the decision (and also to commemorate the TMI accident), lawmakers of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called a news conference to reiterate their opposition to a new nuclear power plant. DPP lawmakers accused Taiwan Power Co. of launching construction on the fourth nuclear power plant before receiving a permit by the Taipei County government. Following a fact-finding inspection to the construction site in Kungliao township in Taipei County, the lawmakers said they found that 20% of the construction project has been carried out, including the laying of a foundation 20 stories deep to accommodate the reactor. Under these circumstances and in the absence of adequate government supervision, the Taiwan people will be in great danger, they claimed.

There has been stiff opposition to the building of the two units, called the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, for almost 20 years. Taipower (the state-owned power utility, and sole provider of electricity in Taiwan) drafted a plan for the plant's construction as early as 1980, but protests and negative public opinion have prevented its passage.

Non-binding referendums have been held on the issue in Taipei County, Taipei City, Ilan County and the northern coastal township of Kungliao, where the plant is to be built. All the referendums have shown that a majority of the public opposes the plant's construction. Although the AEC has approved the plant, TaiPower will still have to seek approval from Taipei County. Taipei County chief Su Chen-chang was at the demonstration and said the county government would not issue a construction license for the plant.


  • Anti Nuke Youth Coalition, 27 March
  • CNA, 27 March
  • China News, 29 March
  • Reuters, 18 and 28 March 1999

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