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August 22, 2017

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[Updated] The Presidential Office is denying that Tsai said she's open to more nuclear power

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Presidential Office has denied that President Tsai Ing-wen told a business delegation that she would consider turning to nuclear power in case of an energy shortage.

However, the government would consider restarting suspended nuclear generators as a last resort if doing so were safe and had public support, the Presidential Office said.

In addition, according to the office, the president had said during her opening address while meeting the delegation that Nuclear Power Plant No. 4 would not be an option for Taiwan "now or in the future."

Tsai had also reiterated that all nuclear generators would be decommissioned as planned by 2025, it added, and that she would not give up the goal of a nuclear-free Taiwan just because of an accident, referring to storm damage that significantly reduced the country's operating reserve.

The response came after Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會) Chairman Lin Por-fong (林伯豐) told media Friday that Tsai said she would consider using nuclear power if Taiwan faced a severe energy shortage.

Lee said Tsai made the remarks at the Presidential Office earlier that day when meeting a delegation led by him.

The developments came a day after the Ministry of Economic Affairs said the idea of restarting work on a new nuclear plant wasn't even on the table.

The delegation had made recommendations to the president during the visit on Friday, Lin said, including the resumption of nuclear power generation after it passes safety inspections.

Three of the six power generators in Taiwan are currently suspended for maintenance, and two of these are slated to remain offline even after the work is complete.

Lin said he had recommended that the government restart the generators after the maintenance has been finished and after subsequent safety evaluations are carried out. He also called for the government to consider resuming construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which has been halted multiple times since starting in 1999.

He said the president responded by saying that "currently Taiwan does not have a power shortage. If there is one, nuclear power will be taken into consideration."

Lin added that Tsai disagreed with him on the cause of the recent close calls with Taiwan's operating reserve.

His group regarded this week's power crisis, in which Taipower issued a red alert, as the result of a human-caused disaster. The president, on the other hand, believed it was caused by "natural disasters," according to Lin.

She appeared to be referring to Typhoon Nesat, which downed a power transmission line late last month.

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