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Taiwan to halt construction at fourth nuclear power plant
ABC Radio Australia - April 28, 2014
President Ma Ying-jeou's Kuomintang party says a decision has been made to seal off the plant's first reactor after the completion of safety checks. And construction of the second reactor will be halted immediately.
The move is the latest sign of pressure on Mr Ma's administration from opposition parties and anti-nuclear activists, who are concerned about the safety of such facilities in earthquake-prone regions of Taiwan following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Taipei over the weekend, urging the government to abandon nuclear energy. The protesters had broken through a police cordon to block one of the busiest streets in Taiwan's capital.
On Friday, Mr Ma refused opposition demands for an immediate referendum on the future of Taiwan's contentious fourth nuclear plant, but reiterated that the government would hold such a vote before the facility starts operations. The fourth plant is located in northern New Taipei City.
Taiwan's three current nuclear power facilities would have to run for longer if the fourth one does not start operating as planned, the economics ministry has said.
Taiwan's first nuclear plant is set to be decommissioned from 2018, while the second is set to close between 2021 and 2023. The existing nuclear power plants supply about 20 per cent of the nation's electricity.
The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party opposes the facility on safety grounds, while the ruling Kuomintang party says the island will run short of power unless it goes ahead. Taiwan sits near the so-called ring of fire region of seismic activity around the Pacific Ocean. (Wires)