Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Groups pan slow pace in DPP’s nuclear-free pledge

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Environmentalists and opponents of nuclear energy stage a protest on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei yesterday to demand that the government act on its pledges to abolish nuclear power by 2025 and deal with the problem of nuclear waste disposal.

Photo: CNA

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has made little progress in realizing electoral promises to abolish nuclear power by 2025, environmental groups said yesterday, outlining plans to push forward with an annual march against nuclear power next month.

About 20 protesters from various environmental and self-help groups gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei, shouting slogans demanding that the government push forward with plans to dispose of nuclear waste while reducing emissions and moving toward renewable energy.

“The DPP has been in office for more than six months, but its progress in fulfilling promises to retire old nuclear plants, dispose of nuclear waste and push for renewable energy has been extremely sluggish, falling far short of the expectations of the public,” Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said.

Demonstrations against nuclear power are to be held on March 11 in Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taitung to urge the government to outline specific plans and a timeline for realizing its promises, Tsuei said.

She criticized state-run Taiwan Power Co for proposing a budget that includes funds for maintaining a mothballed facility even after the Legislative Yuan last year voted to cut off funding for the uncompleted facility in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮)

“The Legislative Yuan last year passed amendments to the Electricity Act (電業法) stating that the operation of nuclear reactors are to stop by 2025, but our dream of a nuclear-free nation is not just about stopping the use of nuclear power,” Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance executive director Kuo Ching-lin (郭慶霖) said.

Shutting the reactors would just be the beginning of a cleanup process that opponents of nuclear power expect to take up to 25 years, he said, adding that finding a permanent facility to store nuclear waste would be a key challenge.

“Whether the site is to be on Taiwan proper or an outlying island, the choice has to be decided through an open and just public discussion,” he said.

Finding alternative sites for the nuclear waste stored on Orchid Island and reactor sites has been stalled for years, with the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday reporting that the government intends to select four uninhabited outlying islands for disposal.

“We feel that allowing the central government to make this decision on its own would be putting the cart before the horse, because selection of a site should be the result of a national discussion,” Tsuei said.

The protesters also called for clearer plans on increasing the share of renewable power in the nation’s energy source.

Although President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has promised that renewable energy would reach 20 percent of total capacity by 2025, “it has no timeline for achieving this,” said Yang Shun-mei (楊順美), secretary-general of Mom Loves Taiwan, a group against nuclear power, questioning the government’s resolve given that wind and solar power comprise only 2 percent of total capacity.

Citizen of the Earth public relations director Chen Ya-ching (陳雅晶) said that recently passed amendments to the Electricity Act would be insufficient without the passage of new legislation promoting renewable power.

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