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Industry News

Taiwan Cabinet Decides Against Nuclear Plant

LCG, Oct. 27, 2000--The cabinet of Taiwan Premier Chang Chun-hsiung has decided to halt construction of the island's controversial fourth nuclear power plant but that decision may not spell the end of the $5.5 billion project.

President Chen Shui-bian, a Democrat-Progressive who was elected in March, said at the time that the 2,700 megawatt nuclear plant, now one-third complete, would be "re-evaluated." The opposition Nationalist Party, which dominates the Taiwan parliament, has said it would withhold its support for the federal budget if the nuclear plant was scrapped.

Earlier this month, former Premier Tang Fei, a leader of the Nationalist Party, resigned over government failure to support the power plant, and was replaced by Premier Chang Chun-hsiung.

Shortly before Premier Chang spoke to reporters this morning, President Chen met with Lien Chan, chairman of the Nationalist Party in an attempt to iron out differences that frustrated government initiatives. The nuclear plant was only one of the issues discussed.

When Premier Chang addressed a news conference this morning, he said "We must make a rational, responsible and conscientious choice for the sake of Taiwan's posterity. We must halt construction of the fourth nuclear power plant."

Though Nationalists in the previous administration had said in support of the plant that it was essential to avoid future power shortages, Premier Chang said that the island had plenty of power for at least the next seven years. Even so, he said, the government would encourage the development of conventional power plants.

Premier Chang seems to have bought some of the anti-nuke arguments of advocacy groups. He said nuclear waste disposal, which he called "a difficult problem that cannot be solved for ten thousand years," was one of the reasons the cabinet decided to scuttle the project.

He also said Taiwan was not prepared to cope with an accident at a nuclear power plant and vowed to make his country a nuclear-free island..

The government said it would honor contracts with suppliers, which include General Electric Co. of the U.S. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.

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