The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday unveiled its proposal for a referendum on the construction of the nearly complete Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮), and suggested postponing the vote from August, as originally scheduled, to December to allow for the implementation of absentee voting.
The wording in the proposal would ask the public: “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational?” (你是否同意核四廠停止興建不得運轉)
The proposal will be submitted to the legislature for approval under the name of KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) and other lawmakers, not the KMT caucus.
Lee needed to collect signatures from at least 19 other lawmakers to meet the threshold required to submit the proposal to the legislature.
The proposal lists five reasons for halting the construction and banning the operation of the power plant, as well as five counterarguments.
The reasons listed against running the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant were: First, operating a nuclear plant is not the safest way to generate energy and carries the risk of causing irreparable consequences.
Second, nuclear power is not the cheapest source of energy, considering the cost of disposing of nuclear waste, decommissioning a plant and cleaning up the construction site.
Third, there are many safety issues have been discovered at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant during its construction, which are compounded by the fact that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) is not experienced in integrating components for the plant made by different companies, concerns that the operator has withheld information about safety violations and a general lack of confidence in the government’s regulatory mechanisms.
Fourth, Taiwan is frequently hit by earthquakes and typhoons and the power plant is in a vast metropolitan area. If there was a threat of a radiation leak, the government does not have the capability to evacuate the entire area that would be at risk.
Fifth, after the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, Japan temporarily shut down all its nuclear power plants and some other countries starting working toward becoming nuclear-free. Taiwan can also adopt such a policy and develop alternative sources of energy.
The five reasons listed in the proposal in favor of finishing the construction of the power plant and making it operational were:
First, generating nuclear power is a relatively clean process in terms of carbon dioxide emissions and helps cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions so it can honor the environmental pledges it has made.
Second, a nuclear-free homeland cannot be achieved in one step. Nuclear power plants are a key element in the nation’s gradual progress toward that goal, as they provide a stable supply of energy that can allow people to change their lifestyles and the government to adjust the industrial structure to set the nation on a path toward becoming nuclear-free and having a near-zero-emission economy.
Third, terminating the construction of the power plant could lead to power shortages because all renewable energy technologies, such as natural gas, are still undeveloped, extremely expensive and vulnerable to fluctuations in the prices of raw materials in the global market.