Sat, Mar 19, 2011 - Page 3 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: Public doubts nuclear security: poll

VOTE:An official at the Taiwan Thinktank said since the results show that the public has many doubts about nuclear power, nuclear policy should be put to a referendum

By Su Yung-yao  /  Staff Reporter

As many as 65 percent of respondents are not confident about the nation’s nuclear security should an earthquake of the same magnitude that struck Japan on March 11 hit Taiwan, a poll conducted by the Taiwan Thinktank showed yesterday.

Amid fears that radiation from damaged nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, could spread across the region, the Taiwan Thinktank conducted a survey on the public’s confidence in nuclear security in the country.

Asked if they feel confident about the safety of nuclear plants should Taiwan be hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake, 65 percent answered “no,” while only 21 percent said “yes.”

Answering the question on whether they have confident in the government’s ability to handle disasters, only 26 percent of the respondents were confident, while 62 percent said they were either “not very confident” or “not confident at all.” Meanwhile, nearly 80 percent of respondents believed that the government “is not ready” to handle such a powerful earthquake, along with a tsunami, were such a disaster to occur in Taiwan tomorrow.

Questioned on whether the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), should continue, 58 percent said that construction should be suspended, while only 27 percent said it should continue.

In addition, 75 percent of respondents said they do not believe that nuclear power plants in the country “sit safely on the rock like a Bodhisattva,” as Atomic Energy Council Deputy Minister Huang Tsing-tung (黃慶東) described them during a legislative meeting on Monday.

Citing the results, Taiwan Thinktank executive director Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) said at a news conference held to release the results that if the public harbors so many doubts about nuclear power plants, then the government should allow the public to decide future nuclear policy through a referendum.

Former Environmental Protection Agency minister Chang Kuo-long (張國龍), now a professor at National Taiwan University’s Department of Physics, said that while most people think the Chinese government does not respect human rights, Chinese authorities have ordered that the construction of nuclear power plants be suspended.

However, that the government, under the leadership of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), insists on developing nuclear energy and is continuing with the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant shows that it is an irresponsible government, he said.

Former minister of transportation and communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) said the government had failed to inform the public about what to do if radioactive substances reached Taiwan.

Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), an assistant professor at Soochow University’s Department of Political Science, compared the situation in Japan following the earthquake to that of New Zealand, which was also hit by a severe earthquake last month.

He said that even though New Zealand was also hit by a serious earthquake, it did not have a nuclear crisis like Japan because the country did not have any nuclear power plants.

“What happened to the myth that we’ve been told about nuclear energy being high-tech and safe?” Hsu said.

In related news, several environmental and civic groups are to organize a rally against nuclear power in Taipei tomorrow afternoon, to demand that the government stop plans to expand the nation’s three existing nuclear power plants and the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top