Taiwan began to mothball its controversial fourth nuclear power plant on July 1, a process that will allow it to be activated at any time in the future, President Ma Ying-jeou said in an interview that was aired Friday.
The Lungmen plant, situated along the country’s northeastern coast in New Taipei’s Gongliao district, could be reopened after a few adjustments are made if a decision were made to operate the facility in the future, Ma said in response to questions on nuclear energy.
In the interview with the Taipei-based Chinese Television System that was taped Thursday, Ma explained that the plant was being mothballed because of strong anti-nuclear voices from the public. “No words related to nuclear energy can win support,” he said.
Ma said he was convinced however that the public would gradually discover that nuclear energy cannot be quickly replaced by renewable energy. Coal and natural gas could be used as substitutes for nuclear power, he said, but warned that the additional carbon emissions generated could have serious consequences.
Built at a cost to date of NT$283.8 billion yuan (US$9.15 billion), the fourth nuclear power plant was nearly completed when work on the project was suspended in late April 2014 amid protests reflecting concerns over the safety of nuclear power that had been growing since the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant in March 2011. Taiwan, like Japan, is prone to earthquakes and the inability of the Japanese authorities to prevent and contain a meltdown at the Fukushima plant after it was critically damaged by an earthquake and tsunami convinced a large portion of Taiwan’s public that nuclear safety cannot be assured.