President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended his administration’s efforts to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants, citing major precautionary measures at the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant that include abandoning the plant to prevent a nuclear disaster.
“A resolute handling measure allows us to sacrifice the plant if a big earthquake, tsunami or any disaster could cause radiation leaks. We would rather abandon the plant than cause a nuclear disaster,” he said at the Presidential Office while meeting with a group of nuclear experts from Japan.
Such a measure, which could be completed in 46 minutes, showed the government’s dedication to strengthening safety measures at local nuclear power plants after Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident two years ago, while continuing its efforts to reduce the use of nuclear power steadily and build a nuclear-free homeland eventually, he said.
“Taiwan pays more attention to the significance of the Fukushima accident than many other countries because, like Japan, Taiwan depends heavily on energy imports,” he said.
Of the nation’s electricity supply, 40 percent comes from fossil fuels, 30 percent from natural gas and nuclear power accounts for 18.5 percent. The rest is supplied by alternative energy sources.
The Ma administration has been promoting the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) amid growing concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants.
While Ma promised to resolve disputes over the plant through a national referendum, Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) told a forum on Monday that the government plans to complete the construction of the plant regardless.
Ma insisted yesterday that the government has conducted thorough inspections on operating nuclear power plants and the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant over the past two years, and said the government would allow the public to decide via a referendum whether the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should continue.
“We hope that the referendum will be held by the end of this year. It will be a very important decision for our energy policy,” he said.