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President Ma Outlines Taiwan's Nuclear Energy Policy

President Ma Ying-jeou said Thursday the country's three existing nuclear power plants would cease to be operational after their licences expire.

"In light of building a nuclear-free homeland, all of our three existing nuclear power plants will go offline once their current licenses expire," the president said at a news conference at the Presidential Office.

Ma, who is running for re-election next January, also assured the public that the fourth nuclear power plant now under construction would become operational only after its safety is guaranteed.

"Safety is always our top working guideline as far as nuclear power generation is concerned," Ma said.

Under this principle, he added, the fourth nuclear plant would start commercial operations only after the government is sure it is safe.

After the fourth nuclear power plant is inaugurated, Ma said, the government will review its nuclear power reduction plan once every four years in order to realize the goal of making Taiwan free of nuclear power in a gradual manner.

"It will be a very important mechanism to attain the 'nuclear-free' goal while ensuring no power rationing, maintaining reasonable electricity price and upholding the carbon reduction promises in the process," Ma said.

As a responsible leader, Ma said he must adopt a pragmatic attitude toward environmental activists' call for a complete scrapping of nuclear power, given the facts that Taiwan relies on imports for 99 percent of its energy supply and that as an island country, Taiwan cannot procure electricity from neighboring countries.

In the future, he went on, if any natural disaster leaves the country's nuclear reactors beyond safety standards, those facilities would suspend operations or be scrapped.

"We would never opt for nuclear power generation at the expense of safety," Ma said, adding that Taiwan cannot afford any nuclear disaster.

The president further said that if the two reactors at the fourth nuclear power plant begin stable operations by 2016, the first nuclear power plant, which is due to expire in 2018, may go offline ahead of schedule.

In addition to preparing for the decommission of the existing nuclear power plants, Ma said, the government will also take active steps to cut electricity demand, particularly reducing peak-time power demand.

Moreover, he added, development of green energy and construction of alternative power generation facilities will be sped up to ensure adequate power supply.


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