Sat, Dec 01, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Nuclear referendum has complicated the issue

By Chang Kuo-tsai 張國財

The referendum so forcefully supported by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — to use nuclear power to promote “green” energy — was passed last Saturday.

Ironically, the passage does not mean that an issue has been resolved, but rather that problems have just begun.

“The local government and residents have always been adamant that the Third [Ma-anshan] Nuclear Power Plant should be decommissioned as scheduled,” Pingtung County Government Secretary-General Chiu Huang Chao-chung (邱黃肇崇) said.

“Hengchun residents demand that the Third Nuclear Power Plant be decommissioned on schedule,” Hengchun Township (恆春) Mayor Lu Yu-tung (盧玉棟) said, adding that “if a nuclear power plant or nuclear waste is placed in Hengchun, Hengchun residents have been let down.”

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) — whose municipality is home to the Jinshan and Guosheng nuclear power plants, as well as the nation’s first dry storage facility, which is not being used, although it was completed five years ago — has said: “The city government insists on two things: Whether it is nuclear power plants or nuclear waste, the safety of nuclear power must be guaranteed, and New Taipei City must never become a storage area for nuclear waste.”

“The Fourth [Longmen] Nuclear Power Plant is a patchwork” and is “unsafe,” said Wu Sheng-fu (吳勝福), warden of Renli Borough (仁里) in Gongliao District (貢寮).

“I’m not opposed to nuclear power, but I am definitely opposed to the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant,” Wu said.

Pingtung County, which is ruled by the Democratic Progressive Party, is calling on people to stop demanding that the operational life of the Ma-anshan plant be extended, while KMT-ruled New Taipei City is urging the public to stop demanding that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant be started up.

Both areas are also saying no to nuclear waste storage — a rare blue-green consensus indeed.

In the real world, reality wins over rhetoric: The disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plants destroyed the illusion of the absolute safety of nuclear power.

Equally serious is that as long as there is nuclear power, there will be nuclear waste. As Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) tries to find permanent nuclear waste storage domestically, people across the nation are saying “not in my backyard,” while finding a permanent storage solution outside Taiwan’s borders has been, and continues to be, impossible.

Taipower’s nuclear power experts are beating their chests and saying that nuclear power is “absolutely safe,” but apart from mumbling to himself that “the safety of nuclear power must be guaranteed,” there is nothing Chu can do but pray that nothing goes wrong at the Jinshan and Guosheng stations.

Why don’t the Taipower experts, who guarantee that nuclear power is “absolutely safe,” and the nuclear power-supporting KMT ask Chu — who is opposed to storing nuclear waste in his city — what he is so afraid of?

Chang Kuo-tsai is a retired National Hsinchu University of Education associate professor.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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