Sun, Apr 27, 2014 - Page 3 News List

FAPA urges referendum on nuclear power plant

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

The Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) is calling for an immediate moratorium on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the association called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to hold a referendum “at the earliest possible time” on the future of the plant. It also asked that a clause in the Referendum Act (公民投票法) be dropped.

The statement expressed strong support for former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), who is now on a hunger strike in protest over the plant’s continued construction.

“As concerned Taiwanese-Americans, we care deeply about Taiwan and its future as a free and democratic nation,” the statement said. “Lin has vowed to fast to the end if the government does not agree to halt construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.”

Under normal circumstances, a referendum stopping the plant would easily pass, it added.

However, Taiwan’s “archaic” referendum law — which requires 50 percent of eligible voters to participate for a referendum result to be valid — is unreasonably high and “impossible to reach,” it added.

“Not a single referendum in the US would pass if these rules were applied,” it added.

According to the Washington-based lobby group, which promotes Taiwanese interests to the US government, a “heated debate has been raging” for more than 20 years over the desirability of the plant located 42km from Taipei.

The association said bad management has led to major delays and construction cost overruns.

While the plant is now in its 15th year of construction, other countries have built similar plants in about four years, the association said.

It said that the plant is similar to the one damaged in the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster in Japan; located on a seismic fault and close to the sea where it could be struck by a tsunami.

“In the case of a disaster, a major metropolitan area of nearly 7 million people would have to be evacuated, an impossible task,” the association said.

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