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Fri, Jun 30, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Lin listens to the voice of Kungliao

ENERGY POLICY The minister in charge of the review of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant paid a personal visit to residents of Kungliao township, promising residents that their objections will be taken into consideration

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Hsin-yi (林信義), promised yesterday to take the opinions of local residents into account when reviewing the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四廠).

The promise was made during two public meetings between Lin and residents of Kungliao township, Taipei County, where the plant is being built.

Two previous meetings held by a task force, led by Lin and charged with reviewing construction of the controversial plant, had been criticized by anti-nuclear activists, legislators and local residents for their alleged secrecy.

Last Friday, members of the task force decided to open future meetings to outsiders by televising each one live, releasing information about each stage of the review to the media, publishing the transcripts of each meeting on the Internet and accepting suggestions from the public.

During Lin's trip to Kungliao yesterday, local anti-nuclear residents argued that construction of the plant should be halted for the duration of the review.

At the first public meeting, held at Kungliao township office, Lin Chung-chih (林重治), Kungliao village warden, said that Minister Lin should have noticed the deteriorating coastal environment, which he said had been damaged by construction operations.

"All previous petitions from us seem to have sunk into the deep blue sea," said Lin, referring to the last (KMT-led) government.

Lin said, however, he could not single-handedly halt construction, which had been approved legally.

"Please give us more time to bring this matter to a conclusion by Sept. 20," Lin said.

Lin said that 18 members of the task force had chosen several issues as priorities for discussion, including emergency evacuation procedures, radioactive waste treatment, plant decommissioning and environmental impact.

During the second meeting at Jenho Kung (仁和宮), a religious center for residents, dozens of senior residents held banners bearing slogans, such as "stop the construction!" "Fulfill your antinuclear promise!" and "establish a nuclear-free homeland."

"I've never said that the plant's construction should be continued," Minister Lin said, promising residents that the review process would involve comprehensive discussions of problems caused by the project.

"I'll come here often to listen to you," Lin said, adding that with his 30 years of experience in non-governmental circles, he knew how important it was to maintain communication with local residents.

Residents said that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should not have forgotten his campaign promise to halt construction of the plant, made in front of the Jenho Kung statue of the sea goddess, Matsu (媽祖).

Lin said that he knew of the promise, but said he could not stray from the law to solve problems.

Legislators, including the KMT's Jao Yung-ching (趙永清), the DPP's Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟) and Chou Huey-ying (周慧瑛), and independent Liao Hsueh-kuang (廖學廣), also attended the meetings to express their support for residents.

Jao said that construction of a port near the site should also be halted immediately, as no necessary environmental impact assessment (EIA) has yet been passed.

Residents then asked Lin to withdraw the license for the plant's construction immediately to prevent "further scarring" of the local environment.

Anti-nuclear residents told the Taipei Times that the coastal environment had been damaged by the washing away of sand along the shores of the nearby coastline from Fulung (福隆) to Yenliao (鹽寮), attributing the damage to the plant's construction.

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