Fri, Jun 06, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Kungliao residents want a referendum as the nuclear issue heats up politically

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Anti-nuclear residents of Kungliao township, Taipei County, where the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is located, said yesterday that the future of the controversial construction should be decided by people living nearby.

The discussion around a referendum on the future of the plant has been heating up in political circles with the approach of the next presidential election. Since September last year, former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) and his anti-nuclear partners have held 35 walking campaigns to push the DPP-dominant government to hold a national plebiscite on the future of the controversial plant by the next presidential election.

Only by doing so, Lin believes, people will possibly be convinced that the ruling party is determined to fulfill its political platform -- phasing out the country's nuclear power plants.

To heat up the referendum issue, Lin's 36th walking campaign will be launched in Kungliao tomorrow.

At a meeting on the discussion about existing supervision mechanisms applied to the controversial plant held by the Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday, anti-nuclear Kungliao residents said that the locals' destiny should not be decided by others.

The meeting is one of preparatory meetings for a National Nuclear-free Homeland Conference being held on June 16.

"A referendum can't be processed without legal basis," said Minister without Portfolio Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄), who chaired the meeting.

Hsu said that the referendum issue would be listed on the agenda of the national conference. Other topics include strategies to phase out nuclear energy, the decommission of existing nuclear power plants, the adoption of renewable energy, the disposal of nuclear waste and the future of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

In addition, Hsu said, the subject needed to be clearly described before the referendum was held.

Lai Wei-chieh (賴偉傑), secretary-general of the Green Citizen Action Alliance, said yesterday that the government lacked integrated plans on the development of the north coast, where many popular tourist spots and the controversial plant are located.

"We get confused because we don't know if the government wants the north coast to be crowded by tourists to boost economic development, or abandoned by people for the sake of nuclear safety," Lai said.

As yesterday marked the 31st anniversary of World Environment Day, Lai said the government's performance on protecting the environment seemed ironic if the plant project is clearly reviewed.

Lai said the construction of the plant has caused too much negative environmental impact, such as the loss of beautiful Fulung Beach nearby.

According to Kungliao residents, the construction of a wharf being built for the plant had caused not only the loss of 3km of beach but also irrrevocably changed their way of life.

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