The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus said yesterday that the launch of a referendum about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) must be premised on the completion of a safety check at the plant.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the caucus had proposed in July last year not to have a referendum on whether to abort the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant until the safety examination has been completed.
Wu said that he does not object to resorting to a referendum on the decision, as long as a prior safety check is in place.
“Leaving it to the judgement of the public before making sure that the plant is safe is not what a responsible politician would do. On the other hand, if the plant is proven to be safe after the referendum result demands an end of the construction, then a whopping amount of public funding would be wasted,” he said.
Wu said that any discussion of putting the nuclear power plant construction to a referendum is welcome, but only within the framework of the existing Referendum Act (公民投票法). A special statute, proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), would only set a bad precedent, he added, such as those concerning the cross-strait service trade agreement and the importation of US beef.
KMT deputy caucus whip Wang Ting-son (王廷升) said the DPP’s proposal is “against the global mainstream trend of referendums.”
“The DPP caucus should base [all its suggestions] on the country’s energy and economic development. It should also let parliament function, taking the issue back to the presupposition of cross-party negotiation, rather than rashly drawing up a special statute,” Wang said.
Wu added that former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) hunger strike against the plant should not be conflated with a possible referendum “because Lin’s plea is to halt construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant immediately.”
“The DPP’s special statute would end up being culpable for Lin’s suffering, because a new law cannot be established in such a short period of time,” he said.
Separately yesterday, Atomic Energy Council (AEC) Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) said his agency will ensure that fuel rods are not inserted at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant until it is deemed safe.
Yuan made the remarks at the Legislative Yuan, before a committee meeting on reviewing the draft of the organic acts of the Nuclear Energy Safety Council and the Nuclear Energy Control Council proposed by the Cabinet and the DPP respectively.
Civic groups have expressed concerns about Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) inserting fuel rods into the plant later this year, as soon as the safety inspections have been completed in June and approved by the AEC.
The plant’s safety designs have mostly been approved, but there are still several flaws in its actual construction, so Taipower is still making the necessary improvements, Tsai said, adding that among the 187 required safety inspection items, Taipower had submitted reports on 90 items, and the council has approved 26 so far.
He said Taipower plans to complete all the inspections in June, but “whether it is safe or not, the AEC cannot make a presumption before it finishes the review.”
Asked about the DPP’s proposal for a special statute calling for a Fourth Nuclear Power Plant referendum, Tsai said it has nothing to do with the council, which only deals with nuclear safety.