The Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) and academics yesterday urged the public to sign a petition aimed at stopping Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) from installing fuel rods in the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮).
Members of the group, along with Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology chairman Michael Hsiao (蕭新煌), National Chengchi University sociology professor Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), and award-winning screenwriter and author Neil Peng (馮光遠), said they “refuse to allow the government to install fuel rods [into the new plant] without first obtaining public approval.”
TEPU founding chairperson and anti-nuclear activist Shih Hsin-min (施信民) said the group had initiated the petition for a national referendum, which would ask the public: “Do you agree that Taipower should insert fuel rods into the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City for test runs?” to counter a referendum proposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) last year.
The petition has gathered more than 50,000 signatures, but it needs at least 100,000 to pass the first threshold and more than 1 million to pass the second stage for the referendum to be held, he said.
Once fuel rods are inserted into the reactor, the plant bears the risk of a radioactive leak, Shih said.
“Taiwanese should have the right to make the final decision on whether the plant is allowed to operate,” Shih said.
Peng suggested drawing up a list of pro-nuclear groups and public figures — including government officials and legislators — and make sure that these people are “banned from leaving Taiwan” if a nuclear accident ever occurs.
Kao Cheng-yan (高成炎), a National Taiwan University professor and TEPU’s anti-nuclear team convener, said recent problems with the new household registration system had affected many people, but it would be a greater disaster if fuel rods were installed in the new nuclear plant, as it might lead to a nuclear meltdown.
There is “no chance of turning back” once the fuel rods are inserted, they said.
Furthermore, decommissioning the nuclear plant will also entail a huge sum of money to properly handle the radioactive plant, they said.