Taiwan Yields to Pressure, Freezes Construction of Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (PHOTOS)

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  • Anti-nuclear activists hold signs in front of a row of police officers standing guard during a protest at Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) headquaters in Taipei April 23, 2014. Activists demand the government to stop the controversial construction
    Anti-nuclear activists hold signs in front of a row of police officers standing guard during a protest at Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) headquaters in Taipei April 23, 2014. Activists demand the government to stop the controversial construction of the fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei City. The placard (L) reads, "Abandon nuclear power." REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
  • Activists take part in an anti-nuclear sit-in in front of the Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 27, 2014. Thousands of activists demand the government to stop the construction of the controversial fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei City, accord
    Activists take part in an anti-nuclear sit-in in front of the Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 27, 2014. Thousands of activists demand the government to stop the construction of the controversial fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei City, according to the local media. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
  • REFILE - CORRECTING GRAMMAR   Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators protesting the construction of a fourth nuclear plant, in front of Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 28, 2014. The Taiwan government will halt construction at the islan
    REFILE - CORRECTING GRAMMAR Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators protesting the construction of a fourth nuclear plant, in front of Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 28, 2014. The Taiwan government will halt construction at the island's fourth nuclear power plant, an official said on Sunday, as local opposition to atomic energy continues to mount. President Ma Ying-jeou met with lawmakers from his Kuomintang Party (KMT) and reached a decision to seal off the plant's first reactor after the completion of safety checks, KMT spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi told reporters. REUTERS/Edward Lau
  • Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators protesting the construction of a fourth nuclear plant, in front of Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 28, 2014. The Taiwan government will halt construction at the island's fourth nuclear power plant
    Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators protesting the construction of a fourth nuclear plant, in front of Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 28, 2014. The Taiwan government will halt construction at the island's fourth nuclear power plant, an official said on Sunday, as local opposition to atomic energy continues to mount. President Ma Ying-jeou met with lawmakers from his Kuomintang Party (KMT) and reached a decision to seal off the plant's first reactor after the completion of safety checks, KMT spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi told reporters. REUTERS/Minshen Lin
  • Police officers carry demonstrators during a protest against the construction of a fourth nuclear plant, in front of Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 28, 2014. The Taiwan government will halt construction at the island's fourth nuclear power plant,
    Police officers carry demonstrators during a protest against the construction of a fourth nuclear plant, in front of Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 28, 2014. The Taiwan government will halt construction at the island's fourth nuclear power plant, an official said on Sunday, as local opposition to atomic energy continues to mount. President Ma Ying-jeou met with lawmakers from his Kuomintang Party (KMT) and reached a decision to seal off the plant's first reactor after the completion of safety checks, KMT spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi told reporters. REUTERS/Minshen Lin
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Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, yielding to national pressure, had ordered the suspension of the construction of what could have been the country's fourth nuclear power plant.

A protest participated by more than 50,000 people who wanted the project scrapped spurred the decision of the Taiwanese president.

Protesters started the march from the Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office up to the front of the Taipei Train Station at Zhongxiao West Road. They later staged a sit-in.

Mr Ma came up with the decision during a three-hour meeting with 15 ruling Kuomintang (KMT) mayors and magistrates.

"Two resolutions were made during the meeting, including [a halt to] construction on the remaining part of the plant," Fan Chiang Tai-chio, KMT spokesman, said. Apart from suspending the construction of the No 2 generator of the nuclear plant, authorities have also been directed to first conduct safety inspections of the No 1 generator before sealing off the facility.

"In the future, any of its commercial operation will be decided by a referendum."

Taiwan has three working nuclear power plants. The first nuclear plant is scheduled to be decommissioned from 2018-19. The second one, between 2021 and 2023.

However, the economics ministry cautioned the country's three current nuclear power facilities would then have to serve longer if the fourth one does not start operating as planned. The three existing nuclear power plants supply about 20 per cent of the nation's electricity needs. The fourth plant, which began construction in 1999 and has already cost around $10 billion, is located in northern New Taipei City, according to Reuters.

Protesters cautioned the federal government against the construction of new nuclear power plants because the country, just like Japan, also experiences regular earthquakes.

The island's deadliest natural disaster in recent history occurred in September 1999 when a 7.6-magnitude quake hit the nation and killed around 2,400 people.

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