okays law to phase out nuclear power
Taiwan News, 8 May 2003
By Dennis Engbart, Staff Reporter
Original address: http://www.etaiwannews.com/Taiwan/2003/05/08/1052356553.htm
The Cabinet approved yesterday a draft basic law
to promote a "non-nuclear home" that would prohibit the development
or use of nuclear weapons, mandate a gradual elimination of nuclear
power plants and accelerate use of renewable energy resources.
Environmentalists welcomed the draft law's proposed
prohibition on the development of nuclear weaponry, but expressed concern
that the draft did not clearly offer a solution to the controversy over
the fourth nuclear plant.
The bill was primarily drafted by the Non-Nuclear
Home Promotion Committee, which was established October 11 under the
National Commission for Sustainable Development.
The commission and the draft law emerged from a
compromise Legislative resolution passed on February 13, 2001 that required
the governing Democratic Progressive Party to resume construction of
the bitterly controversial fourth nuclear power plant, but committed
the conservative Kuomintang and People First Party to concur with the
goal of a turning Taiwan into a non-nuclear home.
Premier Yu Shyi-kun said the draft bill aimed to
allow that "all our citizens and their descendants can be free
of the threat of nuclear weapons and the danger of radiation and to
create a living environment of peace, security and sustainable development."
The draft basic law would require future governments
to abide by several key policy principles, including commitments not
to develop nuclear weapons, to gradually cease nuclear power generation,
to rationally adjust Taiwan's overall energy supply and demand strategies,
to develop and promote renewable energies, to ensure nuclear radiation
safety and properly treat and store radioactive waste materials.
The draft law also includes a procedure for the
decommissioning of existing nuclear power plants that would mandate
a cessation of generation after each nuclear reactor unit reaches a
certain level of gross output in kilowatts.
Yu noted that the draft law emphasized that the
process of accelerated decommissioning of Taiwan's nuclear power plants
would include guarantees for the work rights of affected employees and
reduce the impact on society and the economy.
Under the procedure, the operating agency, at present
the state-owned Taiwan Power Co, would be responsible for proposing
a decommissioning plan, including provisions to safeguard the work rights
of employees, to the Cabinet three years in advance of the forecast
plant closure date and secure approval for the plan at least a year
in advance of closure.
The draft law would also oblige the government to
immediately report any accidents involving nuclear facilities to the
people and to responsible international agencies, such as the International
Atomic Energy Commission.
Operators of nuclear facilities would be fully responsible
for any loss of life, physical injury, health, property or environmental
damage and responsible for publicizing any such damage, no matter what
But the article also would require the government
to cover any shortfall in total damage compensation if the operator
is unable to do so.
The bill would also require all levels of government
to actively include autonomous civic groups in the formulation of non-nuclear
home related policies.
The draft bill would also establish a commemorative
"Non-Nuclear Home Day" on February 13.
Taiwan Watch chairman Chang Kuo-lung told the Taiwan
News that "the Taiwan government has declared that it would not
develop nuclear weapons many times, but to legislate such a commitment
will carry more weight internationally."
But Chang said the draft "has little immediate
significance for Taiwan society as it does not offer a clear indication
of whether the fourth nuclear power plant will be built, which is the
most pressing issue for the anti-nuclear movement, and it may even be
a means to get people to accept the fourth nuclear power plant."
"We advocate holding a referendum to allow
the people as a third party resolve this issue over which the governing
party and the opposition parties remain deadlocked," said Chang.