Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday suggested reviving the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project in the face of public opposition to rebulding the coal-fired Shenao Power Plant.
State-run Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) Shenao plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳) passed an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in 2006. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on March 14 approved the firm’s environmental impact difference analysis report covering proposed changes to the project.
However, the project has sparked protests over worsening air quality in northern Taiwan and other potential damage to the environment.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last week said that if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in the city’s Gongliao District (貢寮) — which was mothballed in 2014 — could be started, there would be no more arguments about the Shenao plant.
EPA Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) on Sunday said the public should remember that the nuclear power plant was mothballed by Ma’s administration.
People could vote on whether they want the nuclear power plant or the Shenao plant through a public referendum, Lee said, adding that he is willing to step down if most people vote to start the nuclear plant.
Several KMT lawmakers blasted Lee’s response during a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday, which was set to discuss draft amendments to the Toxic Chemical Substances Control Act (毒性化學物質管理法).
Citing a poll released by the Chinese-language China Times yesterday, KMT Legislator Arthur Chen (陳宜民) said that 46.9 percent of respondents supported Ma’s proposal and that 73.8 percent said the Shenao project should undergo a new EIA.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should consider the nuclear power plant as an option, instead of rushing to send its fuel rods away, Chen added.
Taipower chairman Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) last month said that the 1,744 nuclear fuel rods slated for the nuclear power plant would be sent back to the supplier, Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas, starting in June, with the process expected to take about three years.
Ma’s remark has highlighted the contradictions in the Democratic Progressive Party’s energy policy, KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said, adding that Lee should not attack Ma to score political points.
Lee said he neither supports nuclear or coal-fired power plants, but people should respect the agency’s EIA mechanism or file an administrative appeal if they find fault with the assessment process.
Potential pollution from a nuclear power plant is far more serious than that from a coal-fired plant, which is why the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was mothballed following the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in 2011, Lee added.
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