Gay Marriage on the Agenda
More than 10,000 supporters of a proposed bill to legalize gay marriage staged a sit-in outside the Legislative Yuan on November 28. The protestors called on the government to amend the Civil Code to allow same-sex couples to legally marry and have families. They rejected a partnership act currently proposed by the Ministry of Justice on the grounds that it discriminates against gay couples and prevents them from adopting children. Gay marriage has gained prominence recently after a legislative committee reviewed a bill on Nov. 17 that would see Taiwan become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex unions. The review prompted thousands of opponents to take to the streets claiming that such a law would undermine the sanctity of marriage and traditional family values.
Taiwan Nuclear Plant Shuts Down
The Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant (NPP 2) stopped producing power on November 30 due to a lack of storage space for spent fuel rods that prevented the single remaining reactor from being refueled. The outage, which will likely last for at least six more months, has reduced the ever-dwindling proportion of nuclear power generation in Taipower’s grid from 18% three years ago to 9% today.
Kuosheng has two 985-megawatt (MW) reactor units, but Kuosheng-2 has been shut down since May 16 following a fire at the reactor. The unit has not been restarted due to political concerns over its safety. Reactor 1 at the Jinshan plant (NPP 1) has also been shuttered for over a year, also due to safety concerns. Currently, the 651-MW reactor 2 at Jinshan is the only operating nuclear reactor in the north of Taiwan. Maanshan (NPP 3), which has two units, continues to operate in Pingtung County.
Taipower has put forward a plan to create more spent fuel storage capacity by converting the loading pools into spent-fuel storage pools. That would allow the reactor to continue operating until the end of its licensure in December 2021. The plan is currently under review by the Atomic Energy Council and if approved, the reactor may return to service before the summer peak demand. However, the Jinshan plant will be shut down completely by next May, also due to the lack of spent-fuel storage capacity for its number-one reactor. There are no plans to convert the loading pool to spent-fuel storage at Jinshan.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of Taiwan’s coal-fired power plants were operating at 90% capacity or higher as of November 30.