Taiwan halts construction of fourth nuclear plant after protests

Kyodo, Bloomberg, AFP-JIJI

Taiwanese Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced Monday the suspension of construction of the island’s controversial fourth nuclear power station, pending a public referendum on whether to resume work.

An estimated 28,500 anti-nuclear demonstrators blockaded one of Taipei’s busiest streets Sunday, forcing the ruling Kuomintang party to yield and halt construction work at the nearly completed plant.

Jiang defended the government’s decision to stop work but not to scrap the 283.8 billion New Taiwan dollar ($9.4 billion) project.

“By suspending the construction, we hope the public will have time to think and discuss the issue before they determine at the ballot box,” Jiang told a news conference.

“In this way, we would leave an option open to our next generation when choosing energy (sources),” he said.

Jiang said Taiwan cannot afford another shock similar to 2000 when the then-government of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced it was scrapping the plant.

That announcement plunged politics and the stock market into chaos for months. The Supreme Court later ruled against the government decision.

Sunday’s concession prompted many demonstrators to leave but hundreds remained, causing police to use water cannon to disperse them Monday morning.

Claiming they were attacked, club-waving riot police chased some protesters. Police also carried away some sit-in demonstrators lying on the ground.

More than 40 people were slightly injured in the clashes, the government said.

If completed, the new power station 40 km (25 miles) from Taipei will be the island’s fourth nuclear plant. Opponents say it would be unsafe in an earthquake-prone island.

The plant has two reactors, one of which is 98 percent complete.

Protest organizers said they will keep watching to see if the government fulfills its promises.

Concerns about the safety of nuclear power flared up again in the wake of the March 11, 2011, Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Like Japan, Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes.

In September 1999 a 7.6-magnitude quake killed around 2,400 people in the island’s deadliest natural disaster in recent history.

Taiwan’s three existing nuclear power plants supply about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity.

  • Starviking

    “What do we want?”
    “Global Warming!”
    “When do we want it?”

  • wrle

    Taiwan should just make their own smart decisions and stop looking to japan for every policy they implement.

  • sputmint

    I don’t understand the anti-nuclear crowd. Nuclear will not cause massive death. The only case where this happened was Chernobyl just because it used a reactor that produced more energy when it gets hot, which is the opposite of reactors today. The Chernobyl site is a wildlife reserve and is doing quite well. Less people have died from nuclear per unit of power produced than in any other. Taiwan please make the informed choice and keep nuclear, or at the very least don’t replace it with coal, oil, biomass, or natural gas.

  • Starviking

    Not exactly ‘green’, certainly very concerned about global warming. So, what is your problem with nuclear’s low-CO2 emissions?

  • Starviking

    Ah right, the old “if this person holds opposing views to me, then they must be an industry plant”. Very conspiracy theory-esque. Not great logic.

    As for facts being wrong, you do have a whopper with your assertion that oil has been created, by the Earth, for tectonic plates to float on. Please check a geology textbook.

  • Sam Gilman

    Do you think global warming is an invention of the nuclear industry?

  • George Reichel

    Good for Taiwan

  • sputmint

    Well I’m pretty sure that oil comes from organic material, not plate tectonics; and that skin cancer is real, but I agree that solar is among the most promising types of energy. Solar has some flaws though; solar generates low amounts of electricity because it uses mostly inefficient technologies (which will get better over time) and because it cannot produce power at night. Not being able to produce power at night wouldn’t be a problem, but currently there is no way to store that much excess power.
    Obviously nuclear power is not without problems. Radiation from nuclear plants is cumulative as you said, but within reason; radon under your house is a much larger threat. Nuclear will also run out of fuel, but not before natural gas and oil. The rate of uranium depletion can be more than halved by using breeder reactors that get plutonium out of the process that can be used again.
    The fact is that billions of dollars have been invested in solar energy. I hope that solar grows enough to support the Human population, but remember that the sun is essentially a nuclear fusion reactor.
    I have no connection to the industry: I just find it fascinating. I don’t know how accurate my facts are, but I’d like to believe that my logic is sound. Solar is ripe for the future, but nuclear is ripe for now.

  • Starviking

    Radon is a risk. Houses in Radon-prone areas need adequate ventilation to ensure it does not build up and so increase the radiation does of the inhabitants.

    As for Fukushima’s Plutonium – I don’t think that is a current hazard.

    Not sure what you mean by ‘volatile radiation’ or ‘long lasting forms of killing rays’ – could you rephrase those?

  • Starviking

    The Illuminati? The NWO? All I can say is “Wow!”

  • http://barefootblogger.siterubix.com Bryn

    Good for the Taiwanese.