Tue, Jun 14, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Lawmakers pass new nuclear funding

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporters

Police carry away an anti-nuclear protester who had tried to enter the legislature yesterday as lawmakers were discussing an additional budget for the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, in Gongliao District, New Taipei City.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

The legislature yesterday voted down a set of anti-nuclear motions proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Holding just one-third of the legislative seats, the DPP failed in 11 attempts to block the use of nuclear power, despite support from anti-nuclear activists who have staged a protest outside the legislature since Sunday night.

A motion to reject the request for a supplementary NT$14 billion (US$485.74 million) in funding from state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) for continued construction work at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao (貢寮) District, New Taipei City (新北市), was defeated.

Others motions that failed to pass during the session included one that called for construction of the plant to be suspended and a referendum held on whether the project should continue; another that the plant not be allowed to start trial operations using nuclear fuel before its ability to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis is enhanced, and a third calling on the government to promise not to extend the life of the three operating nuclear power plants.

The DPP also failed in an attempt to remove Daren (達仁), Taitung County, from a list of sites selected for nuclear waste disposal, as it is near active fault lines.

A request that the government re-evaluate the cost of electricity from nuclear power by factoring in the expense of dismantling nuclear power plants and -decontamination of polluted areas was also shot down.

All 33 DPP lawmakers present chanted “Nuclear-free homeland; a sustainable Taiwan,” while one motion after another was voted down.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presented counterproposals that demanded the nuclear power plants be subject to thorough safety inspections and new security measures be introduced at the plants. All the KMT proposals passed in the form of resolutions attached to the state-owned enterprises budget for this year.

After the vote, DPP lawmakers accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of lacking the determination needed to achieve a nuclear-free homeland, an ideal clearly stipulated in the Environmental Basic Law (環境基本法) promulgated in 2002.

KMT Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said the proposals made by his party would ensure the nuclear power plants met safety requirements, while ensuring the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and guaranteeing a secure electricity supply.

With the passage of the additional NT$14 billion funding, the total now spent on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which began in 1997, is NT$264.4 billion.

While the political drama unfolded inside the legislature, anti-nuclear protesters blocked the gates and the street in front of the building.

About 200 protesters had gathered in the morning to protest the government’s plan to continue construction work at the plant.

The protests were organized by Sunflower No Nuke Action, an anti-nuclear alliance made up of more than 40 civic groups, and joined by residents who live near the site of the plant.

Green Citizen Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said it was undemocratic for legislators to arbitrarily pass the huge budget when many of the details are kept secret from the public, not to mention barring citizens from observing the voting process from inside the legislature.

Green Party Taiwan spokesperson Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said that continuing construction at the plant was like throwing good money after bad, adding that the Control Yuan had already -condemned Taipower for more than 1,000 alterations it has made to the original plant design.

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