Campaigners against nuclear power yesterday called on the legislature to slash the maintenance budget for the sealed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) ahead of a special legislative session set to review the budgets of state-run businesses, as they said the budget cut was necessary to phase out nuclear power.
A coalition of environmental groups yesterday gathered in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei and put up flyers that read: “Scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant” and “Mothballing is unnecessary,” urging lawmakers to block a NT$1.35 billion (US$42.05 million) budget to maintain the unfinished nuclear plant, which was mothballed in July last year following protests.
The legislature last year agreed on a three-year, NT$3.45 billion maintenance budget to mothball the plant, but the budget is reviewed and allocated on an annual basis.
The latest decision to mothball the plant was made by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration to keep open the possibility of activating the plant and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has vowed to abolish nuclear power, does not have to keep the plant mothballed, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said.
The unfinished nuclear power plant cannot be activated immediately, as Taiwan Power Co has claimed, because it would cost another NT$50 billion to complete, Tsuei said, adding that the public would be more unwilling to accept the mothballing if it knew about the cost.
“There is no point mothballing a plant that will not be activated. If the maintenance budget cannot be rejected when the legislature is dominated by parties vowing to phase out nuclear energy, decades of campaigning against nuclear power have been wasted,” she said.
Taipower has failed to execute substitute power generation solutions, which the company last year promised in exchange for the maintenance budget, nuclear power oversight group Mom Loves Taiwan director Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉) said.
The solutions included expanding the power generation facilities of three coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants by this month, but the company has failed to deliver on its promises, so there is no reason to allocate the maintenance budget for the nuclear plant this year, Hsu said.
“We have staged many protests since the new administration was sworn in on the promise of making Taiwan a nuclear power-free nation. If the new government does not have the determination, it might as well drop its promise to abolish nuclear energy,” Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance chief executive Kuo Ching-lin (郭慶霖) said.
A nuclear energy phase-out committee should be established under the Executive Yuan to direct the decommissioning of the three operating nuclear power plants and the management of radioactive waste, Kuo said.
New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said the party had filed a motion to scrap the entire maintenance budget, fulfilling a promise it made at a rally against nuclear power in March.
“Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said there is no plan to activate the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, so it is unreasonable to mothball the plant at such a large budget,” Huang said.
However, DPP Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) was more reserved, saying the DPP caucus would try to cut the budget as much as it could without affecting the ongoing maintenance at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
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