Opposition, environmentalists oppose Taiwan nuclear waste plan

Opposition, environmentalists oppose Taiwan nuclear waste plan

HomeAsia-PacificMore Mon Mar 2, 2015 2:29PM

Taiwan’s main opposition party has urged the government to halt a controversial plan to process the country’s nuclear waste overseas.

Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vowed on Monday to push for stopping the plan by the state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) that the party says lacks transparency.

“The whole bidding process was not transparent,” DPP legislator, Tien Chiu-chin said, warning that it could become a “money pit” and result in international disputes both environmentally and financially.

The company, which is the authority in charge of providing electric power to Taiwan, started a bidding process to transport and reprocess 1,200 spent fuel rods from two of the country’s three nuclear plants just before the Lunar New Year holidays. The move was seen by critics as a tactic to evade media and public attention.

Meanwhile, environmentalists are concerned that Taipower’s initiative to ship the nuclear waste abroad may pose the threat of a nuclear accident.

Taipower has asked for a budget of Tw$11.25 billion (USD 356 million) for the nuclear waste plan that needs to be passed in parliament, a budget Tien said would “do everything” to block.

According to local media, companies from England, France and Russia have expressed readiness to bid for the proposal.

In reaction to recent criticisms, Taipower argues that the two nuclear power plants are running out of capacity for storing the fuel rods and the situation may force the company to shut down the plants if the wastes are not removed.

Similar to Japan, Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes and safety concerns over Thai nuclear facilities were raised after a tsunami hit Japan’s Fukushima plant in 2011.

Three nuclear power plants supply about 20 percent of Taiwan’s electricity. The government says the country will run out of energy if it stops these nuclear plants.

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