Judging from his recent policies, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) presidential campaign pledge of a nuclear-free homeland is a lie, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.
Ma defied the recommendations and warnings of several prominent consultants on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and insisted on launching the operation of the plant, which is inconsistent with his pledge of “gradually achieving the goal of becoming a nuclear-free country,” the DPP caucus told a press conference.
Ma’s insistence on beginning commercial operation of the nuclear power plant in Gongliao (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), is the most clear-cut difference between his platform and that of the DPP in the presidential election last month.
The DPP also proposed a “2025 Nuclear-Free Homeland Initiative,” which aims to phase out nuclear power by 2025 by decommissioning the three operating nuclear power plants and preventing the commercial operation of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, while Ma did not give a timetable.
“Ma said during his presidential campaign that the plant would not begin operation without meeting all safety requirements and running comprehensive trial operations. Now he is turning a blind eye to the recommendations of experts,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.
Former Atomic Energy Council deputy minister Shieh Der-jhy (謝得志), who also headed the plant’s safety monitoring committee, and two committee members resigned last year after their warnings about the plant’s safety and suggestion that construction be halted to carry out a thorough safety examination were ignored by the government.
However, Ma has made up his mind to carry on with the construction, Pan said, adding that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) has demanded a budget increase of NT$56.3 billion (US$1.9 billion) for the construction.
The government has repeatedly claimed over the past three decades that nuclear energy is important, saying it is the only feasible option for Taiwan, despite the fact that the nation’s current reserve margin of 26.8 percent is several times higher compared with other countries, Pan said.
The DPP is determined to advance its nuclear-free initiative, which aims to phase out nuclear power, increase energy efficiency, promote renewable energy and create a balance between environment protection and economic development, Pan said.
“Taipower asked for a higher budget, but it did not provide a solution on nuclear safety, nor did it dare promise that construction of the plant would be completed in 39 months as it had previously claimed,” DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said.
With a nuclear plant having a lifespan of 40 years, she said that Ma’s insistence on building a fourth plant signifies that his pledge of a nuclear-free nation would not be achieved in 40 years.
“The budget of the plant went from NT$136 billion to more than NT$200 billion, and now Taipower wants to add another NT$56.3 billion,” DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.
Taiwan’s nuclear plants have been ranked among the 14 most dangerous nuclear plants by foreign experts, he said, and Taiwan needs to revisit its reliance on nuclear energy and the extra budget that Taipower has demanded.