All three of the presidential candidates agree that the life of the country’s three operational nuclear power plants should not be extended, but they have mixed views on the progress of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) said yesterday, citing responses they received to a list of environmental questions submitted to all three of the candidates.
Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said she is opposed to the installation of fuel rods in the fourth plant, while People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said the safety of that step would have to be assured, the groups said at a press conference.
However, the candidates were all hesitant to support the idea of an immediate suspension of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project or allowing residents within a 30km radius to vote on the fate of nuclear plants, said Shih Shin-min (施信民), an environmentalist and professor at National Taiwan University.
The Fourth Nuclear Power
Plant has been the subject of much controversy, with environmentalists advocating the suspension of the project before it gets to the stage where the fuel rods are installed. Currently the electrical and peripheral facilities of the plant are being put in place.
“When it comes time to install fuel rods, the government will give it some serious thought,” Minster of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) told lawmakers earlier this year at a legislative committee meeting in response to questions about the safety of the plant.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidates said the operations and life of the three existing plants should not be extended or prolonged, according to the responses made to the 16 questions posed by more than 10 environmental groups.
Representatives of the groups visited the three candidates’ campaign offices on Saturday to present their questions, which covered issues ranging from nuclear safety and petrochemical development to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
At yesterday’s press conference, the groups urged the candidates to step up their nuclear safety policies and to suspend the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which they called a dangerous facility that could have a catastrophic impact on the environment.
They also called on the candidates to introduce policies that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions to their 2000 levels by 2016 and to their 1990 levels by 2025.
In addition, the candidates should aim for negative growth of water and electricity consumption, the groups said.