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Cross-Strait Nuclear Power Safety Cooperation Agreement

  • Date:2011-10-12

Atomic Energy Council, Executive Yuan
October 12, 2011

1) Background

The Chernobyl nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union in 1986 and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant incident in Japan resulting from a stronger-than-anticipated earthquake and tsunami both caused severe losses of people’s property and life and had a long-term environmental impact. Although the nuclear accident in Japan occurred 2,000 kilometers away from Taiwan, it has still attracted a great deal of attention among Taiwanese people. There is also great concern over the impact of offshore nuclear disasters on the safety of the domestic natural environment, personnel contacts, food, and even imported commodities and goods.

Mainland China, which is closer to Taiwan than Japan, currently has 14 nuclear power generators in operation. It also has the world's highest number (26) of nuclear power generators under construction, many of which are concentrated in the southeast coastal area, where, like Taiwan, faces potential threat of earthquakes or tsunamis. In the current absence of an accident reporting and cooperation mechanism between the two sides, the security of these nuclear facilities is steadily becoming a focal point of concern among the people of Taiwan.

The lesson from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant incident is that the effects of a serious accident can spread widely, and therefore neighboring countries should establish mechanisms to coordinate regional safeguards as well as strengthen information reporting and exchanges to promptly understand the situation of the accident and take necessary response actions. Under the principles of "nuclear safety knows no borders" and "safety first," countries around the world are actively enhancing international cooperation to improve nuclear safety. Taiwan has maintained cooperative relations with the U.S. and Japan for nearly 30 years. In the past, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have handled cooperation, exchanges, and discussions on nuclear power operations through private channels. In view of the geographical proximity and the increasing contacts between people on both sides, Taiwan and the Mainland should consolidate exchanges to reduce the incidence of a nuclear accident. Moreover, based on the principles of reciprocity and mutual benefit, the two sides should establish a framework for cooperation on cross-strait nuclear power safety and emergency accident reporting.

2) Basic Position

Nuclear power safety pertains to the well being of the people and the ecosystem. The government will firmly adhere to the principles of "reciprocity, mutual benefit, and pragmatism" in signing the Cross-Strait Nuclear Power Safety Cooperation Agreement (hereafter the Agreement), with an aim to upgrade exchange of information on nuclear power safety, establish an accident reporting and liaison mechanism, and promote disclosure of information on nuclear power safety. This will enable Taiwan to access information, respond rapidly, and heighten nuclear safety, further guaranteeing safety in this area.

At this stage, the focus of the Agreement is on nuclear power safety under the negotiation principles of "not discussing the development of the nuclear power industry," "not discussing nuclear power technology transfer," and "not discussing the disposal/processing of low-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel."

3) Objectives and Areas of Cooperation

Under the principles of reciprocity and mutual benefit, the Agreement will formally include the field of nuclear power plant safety and emergency accident reporting among the items of cross-strait cooperation and exchange. In normal times, exchanges can be conducted through conferences, symposiums, personnel exchange visits, and other channels to promote advances in nuclear power plant safety monitoring, management, and response capability on both sides. The Agreement will also enable the establishment of emergency reporting mechanisms. In the event of a nuclear accident on either side, the other side can immediately obtain related information and adopt early response measures to ensure public safety.

4) Anticipated Benefits

The signing of this Agreement will enable, during normal times, the sharing of information and experience on nuclear power plant safety supervision, while also upgrading the operational safety and performance of nuclear power plants. Cooperation and exchanges in this area can reduce the occurrence of nuclear accidents or prevent such accidents from occurring in the first place. The Agreement will also establish emergency reporting mechanisms to enable prompt access to related information so that response measures can be adopted early in the event of an accident to ensure public safety. Furthermore, it can promote transparency on nuclear power plant safety information so as to fully inform the people of Taiwan about the operational situation of nuclear power plants on both sides, granting Taiwanese businesspeople and students in the Mainland greater peace of mind.

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