Sun, Mar 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear Power Debate: Academic urges KMT to look backwards on safety

HISTORY LESSON:Citing an official gazette, the professor pointed to the concerns raised by KMT members ahead of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster

By Tang Chia-ling, Liu Li-jen, and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with Staff writer

An academic yesterday urged Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators to reflect on concerns voiced by their predecessors over nuclear energy following Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) proposal to put the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to a referendum.

According to the Legislative Yuan Official Gazette No. 29, Volume 74, which recorded the minutes of a legislative session convened on April 10, 1985, 55 then-KMT legislators — including former legislative speaker Liu Sung-pan (劉松藩), then-legislator Tsai Sheng-pang (蔡勝邦) and current Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) — cited three reasons for opposing the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

These included concern over a potential nuclear disaster, the economic efficiency of nuclear energy and political concerns.

The dissent came about one year before the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine on April 26, 1986, which led the Executive Yuan to shelve the construction plans for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant amid growing public anxiety over the safety of nuclear power.

The initial budget for the plant was not approved by the legislature until 1992, seven years before construction of the plant commenced in 1999.

“Taiwan is located in an earthquake-prone region and is in the proximity of a volcano group. With three of the nation’s four [completed or proposed] nuclear power plants located in one area [New Taipei City,] the country is susceptible to a disaster that could lead to a series of chain reactions,” the gazette said.

Singling out the problem of nuclear waste disposal, the gazette said that nuclear waste had to be buried between 610m and 1,200m underground in a geologically stable area for a period of at least 10,000 years, a burial site that “is nowhere to be found in Taiwan.”

“At present, [the country’s nuclear power plants] store most of their nuclear waste within the plants, which is alarming as these plants have reached saturation point,” the gazette said, adding that a series of accidents at nuclear power plants overseas were also solid proof that “nuclear energy poses major security concerns.”

Citing the gazette, National Taiwan University atmospheric science professor Gloria Hsu(徐光蓉) called on KMT legislators to re-examine the reasons behind their predecessors’ opposition to the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and draw on their experience.

“The concerns recorded in the gazette were the reasons why then-KMT legislators found the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant proposal to be unworkable and voiced opposition to its construction. These concerns still exist today,” Hsu said.

Urging government officials to refrain from labeling anti-nuclear energy individuals as being “unreasonable,” Hsu also called on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to confront the underlying risks of nuclear energy and put an immediate halt to the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

“The Ma administration should not hold a referendum that is politically motivated at the cost of public safety and people’s lives,” Hsu added.

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