Civil unrest in Taiwan leads to suspension of work on new nuclear plant
29 April 2014
On April 28, police and protesters clashed in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, with the latter calling for work on Taiwan's fourth nuclear plant at Lungmen to be abandoned. The previous day, the governing Kuomintang Party agreed to temporarily suspend work on the two nuclear reactors but has so far refused to halt the project altogether.
Lungmen NPP - Photo: Taipower
The move comes amid mounting public concern over nuclear safety, with opponents of the fourth nuclear power plant, including the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, saying that it is irresponsible to go ahead with the project given that Taiwan is located in an earthquake zone.
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said the government would hold a referendum on the issue before the plant began operating, and announced that the newly-completed Unit 1 at Lungmen will be mothballed once pre-operational safety checks are completed. Construction of unit 2, now 90% complete, will be suspended immediately.
Until that referendum is held, no more money will be invested in the plant's construction. Almost $9.9 billion has already been spent building the Lungmen plant. The government also announced that a national energy conference would be held as soon as possible to ensure that there was no future risk of energy shortages as a result of its decision to halt the development of Lungmen.
Taiwan currently has six nuclear power reactors in operation with a combined generating capacity of 4,927 MWe. These units provide almost one-fifth of Taiwan's electricity. Under current energy policies, these reactors are only allowed a 40-year lifespan which means the oldest units, at Chinshan, would close in 2018 and 2019, while the second plant is set to close by 2023.