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Taiwan mothballs nuclear plant, opponents press for ban

A nearly completed nuclear plant in Taiwan was mothballed today, with plans for maintenance and possible future operation, but activists pressed for a total ban on its use.

The plan to mothball the Longmen plant in northern Taiwan was approved by the Atomic Energy Council, after the government decided in April 2014 to postpone its operation indefinitely.

Strong anti-nuclear sentiment arose after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in neighbouring Japan, where three commercial reactors melted down.

The state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) said it would keep all options open for future operation.

Under the three-year storage plan, supplies and maintenance fees are expected to total T$3.4 billion Taiwan dollars (US$110 million), the official Central News Agency said.

One of the two 1,350-megawatt reactors is built, while the other is nearly complete.

Company spokesperson Lin Te-fu said all equipment will be maintained in the best condition possible by roughly 400 staff members on site.

“The completed reactor, which has passed the safety test, will be maintained and tested on a regular basis. As for the other reactor, parts will be carefully stored,” Lin said.

Last year, the cabinet justified the decision to postpone operations by saying that it could be held in reserve for when energy needs are more acute.

It promised to leave the final decision up to a future referendum.

Anti-nuclear groups are demanding the dismantling of the Longmen plant, where construction began in 1999. Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsui Shu-Hsin said mothballing the plant was a waste of money.

“The equipment is ageing. How can people trust the safety of the plant in the future?” Tsui said.

Taiwan has three operational nuclear plants generating 18 percent of its electricity, according to Taipower.

- dpa

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