Cabinet passes proposal to transform the Atomic Energy Council into commission
By Ann Yu,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Cabinet yesterday passed a draft proposal to transform the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) into a safety inspection commission directly under the Cabinet to handle nuclear power safety.
February 22, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Although the Organic Act of the Nuclear Safety Commission (核能安全委員會組織法) draft calls for the downsizing of the AEC from a second-level body to a third-level organ, it still ensures the commission's independence and authority to inspect and implement safety measures over nuclear power plants, said AEC official David Yao (饒大衛).
Initially, the AEC had proposed to become an agency subordinate to the planned technology ministry. After a year of discussion, however, the Cabinet decided to give the new body more control over nuclear facility inspections. as it is an issue of great public concern, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said.
According to Jiang, the restructuring is a drastic change for the AEC, but reflects the Cabinet's raised awareness over the situation of Taiwan's nuclear power plants.
The people are watching closely to see if the government is willing to pay serious attention to nuclear matters, Jiang said, asking the AEC to continue discussions with anti-nuclear activist groups.
When asked why the AEC cannot remain a second-level body, Jiang explained that the maximum number of ministries, commissions and bureaus as mandated by the Basic Code Governing Central Administrative Agencies Organizations will be reached due to the upgrading of other government bodies.
Yao said that, following the passage of the draft, the Nuclear Safety Commission may be entitled to inspect and oversee second-level Cabinet bodies that are related to nuclear power plants, such as the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
“We've never done anything like this before, but our responsibilities won't change. We'll be doing our job of ensuring a safe environment.”
Nuke No. 4 may be Fueled by Next June
With the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant nearing completion, the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower, 台電) hopes nuclear fuel rods can be installed in the plant by next June.
Taipower said it has applied with the AEC to fuel the power plants by next June, but the council has asked for a more detailed description of their plans. Regulations require that applicants send in safety analysis reports to the AEC 14 months prior to the launch of a plant.
The company said that it turned in safety analysis reports 10 years ago, but since work on the plant was obstructed by anti-nuclear activists, with construction subsequently delayed several times, the AEC asked for a new report by June this year.
Taipower said that the power plant is already being tested by inspection companies from the U.S. and will hopefully begin operations in June, 2014.