TAIPEI, Taiwan - Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch yesterday said he will ensure that the First Nuclear Power Plant will provide a stable flow of electricity, adding that the power plant will not suspend operations.
Chang made the remark during his first visit to the Second Nuclear Power Plant for the 2014 nuclear safety drill in New Taipei. The minister said that as the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (Nuke 4) is currently mothballed, it is essential to maintain the safety and productivity of Nukes 1, 2 and 3.
As the spent nuclear fuel pool for Nuke 1 is reaching its storage limit, and the almost-completed construction of a dry cask storage for Nuke 1's spent fuel is pending New Taipei's approval, many have raised concerns about whether or not Nuke 1 and Nuke 2 will face suspension before the two power plants' scheduled retirements.
Chang responded to the concerns, saying that in order to increase the spent fuel storage capacity, he will do his best to communicate with the New Taipei City Government to gain the city's approval on the water and soil reservation plan for the dry cask spent nuclear fuel storage facility.
The minister further said that the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) is experienced in terms of the skills and construction of the dry cask storage for spent fuel. He said the construction of the storage unit for Nuke 1 is almost completed, noting that, however, Taipower is still waiting for administrative work to be approved by the New Taipei City Government.
Public Sentiment May Affect Election: Chang
Noting that as the mayoral election is approaching, Chang said perhaps New Taipei is worried about public sentiment over the nuclear power plants and therefore is being cautious over the construction of the dry cask spent fuel storage facility.
Chang pointed out that the key issue is how to efficiently communicate with Taipower, New Taipei and the public to effectively offer reassurance.
The minister said the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is confident that Nuke 1 will continue to operate, stressing the he will not let Nuke 1 suspend its operations. The nation cannot bear the electricity shortage supply if Nuke 1 ceases operations, Chang added.
Chang further said that the MOEA at the same time is preparing two backup plans for the electricity supply to respond should Nukes 1, 2, and 3 retire in the future.