Political Debate Goes Nuclear After Referendum Keeps Reactors Running

Taiwan voted to reverse a plan to phase out nuclear power by 2025, but nobody knows what comes next.

The News Lens
Date: 2018/12/06
By: Brian Hioe

Credit: Reuters / Pichi Chuang

After the referendum on nuclear energy held concurrently with nine-in-one elections on Nov. 24, shifts in Taiwan’s treatment of nuclear energy-related issues are likely to take place. The referendum called for the overturning of current provisions in the law which stipulate that Taiwan is to be nuclear-free by 2025.

Although the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) scheduled the restart of the No. 1 reactor at the Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant shortly after the referendum, this was not because of the results. The Tsai administration quietly approved reactor restarts for nuclear reactors, including the Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant, last year, but the No. 1 Kuosheng Reactor was taken offline for scheduled maintenance last month. With the completion of this maintenance and the completion of safety checks after some initial failures, the plant was brought back online.

In the meantime, the first reactor of the Jinshan power plant has now reached its scheduled decommissioning date, but questions remain on what to do with the nuclear waste from the plant. The second reactor of the plant is scheduled to be decommissioned next year. On the other hand, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has ordered Taipower to submit a request to postpone the decommissioning of the Ma-Anshan Nuclear Power Plant.

It is also a question as to what should be done with nuclear rods from the currently shuttered Gongliao Nuclear Reactor, with the proposal that these rods should be shipped back to the U.S., but also calls from nuclear energy proponents to restart the reactor.

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