President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday led a group of senior officials and reporters on an “energy tour” in an effort to raise awareness of the challenges facing Taiwan’s energy sector, but the visit was momentarily delayed after the most powerful earthquake so far this year struck in Nantou County.
Ma and the delegation were en route to the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, when the earthquake struck Nantou County’s Renai Township (仁愛).
Following the quake, Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) took early leave of the tour.
Ma told the press that Mao was returning to Taipei to handle post-earthquake affairs, adding that Mao had also instructed Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) to lead the Central Disaster Response Center.
Meanwhile, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), who was part of the group, said the government hopes the two-day visit will improve the public’s understanding of the administration’s energy policy.
The information obtained during the tour could be factored into the nation’s deliberations on whether to complete the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮), he said.
The fate of the project, under construction since 1999, is expected to be decided in a national referendum, likely to be held before the end of the year.
On the first day of the energy tour, officials and senior journalists visited a liquefied natural gas terminal, a coal-fired power station and a solar power station, all of which are located in Greater Kaohsiung.
The group was to spend last night in Pingtung County, before visiting the Fourth Nuclear Plant today.