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Local firms support govt's Nuke 4 policy,existing plant growth

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In response to the government's decision to “seal up” the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, local trade and business associations voiced their support, but pointed out the necessity to extend the operations of the other three existing nuclear power plants.

The government and the Kuomintang (KMT) caucus recently reached a consensus to “seal up” Nuke 4. That is, to finish the nuclear power plant's construction, but the decision on whether or not it will be made operational will be decided by a public referendum at a later date.

Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (TEEMA) said it is the public's wish to have a secure, sufficient, stable and cheap electricity supply, but it feels “helpless” and “powerless” that this public administration issue of Nuke 4 has become political.

Out of Taiwan's population of 23 million, only one million are opposed to the construction of Nuke 4, the TEEMA said, adding that it is not rational to alter a major policy based on the voice of a small minority.

TEEMA pointed out that it is the Cabinet's Atomic Energy Council (AEC) that is charged with ensuring the safety of Nuke 4, and that the public should have more confidence in AEC's professionalism.

Nuclear Power Plant may Affect Economy

It appears that after the anti-service trade pact movement, a momentum has gathered among the public to oppose major government policies. Members of TEEMA said that anti-government movements will have a detrimental impact on the local economy. For one, without signing free trade agreements (FTA) with other countries, Taiwan is likely to lose its edge in exports.

The government should implement major policies in ways that suit the interests of the majority, a member of the TEEMA said. If Nuke 4 construction is paused, the lifecycles of Nuke 1, Nuke 2 and Nuke 3 will have to be extended, the member said.

According to Yeh Ming-feng (葉明峰), an adviser to the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, given the pressure of its trade deficit, the government of Japan is now considering re-activating the country's nuclear power systems, despite the fact that the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in 2011 caused such grave damage. This is testament to the fact that abolishing nuclear power will have severe negative impacts on the local economy.

Service Extension of Existing Nuclear Power Plant

To buffer the potential economic impact, Yeh suggested beefing up the maintenance of the three existing nuclear power plants before extending their service periods. Renewable energy may also be tapped to bridge the energy gap, Yeh said.

Tsai Lien-sheng (蔡練生), secretary-general of the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI), said local businesses want steady a power supply and, if the Nuke 4 is to be sealed, the KMT and opposition political parties must promise to extend service periods for Nuke 1, Nuke 2 and Nuke 3.

Tsai believes the government's decision to seal up Nuke 4 is a pragmatic option. However, should power shortages occur, it would no longer be rational to object to Nuke 4's operation, Tsai said.

According to the Taiwan Power Company (台電), the state-owned company that provides electricity nationally, there will be no serious shortage before 2017.

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