Nuclear power proponents yesterday said they would launch new referendum proposals to extend the operation of nuclear power plants and relocate nuclear waste stored on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), after the government said it would decommission the reactors on schedule.
A majority of voters on Nov. 24 last year voted in favor of abolishing Article 95-1 of the Electricity Act (電業法) — which states that all nuclear power generation facilities must halt operations by 2025 — in a referendum held alongside the local elections.
However, the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Jan. 31 said it has no plans to extend the 40-year permits of the operational nuclear reactors or resume the construction of the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, sparking criticism.
The Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門) has started decommissioning, but the municipality is opposed to a nuclear waste storage for the plant proposed by Taiwan Power Co.
Meanwhile, the permits for four reactors at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in the city’s Wanli District (萬里) and the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, are to expire between 2021 and 2025, according to the Atomic Energy Council.
The council has said that applications to extend reactors’ operations must be filed five years before permits expire, but that is merely a rule set by the council, which it can adjust at will, said Nuclear Myth Busters founder Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), who launched last year’s referendum about the Electicity Act.
To push the government to respect the electorate’s support for nuclear power, Huang and other supporters would launch three new referendum proposals to extend the three operational plants’ licenses, resume construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and relocate barrels of low-radioactivity nuclear waste stored on Orchid Island, he said.
The second proposal last year garnered more than 200,000 signatures and would be forwarded to the Central Election Commission for review next month, he said.
Critics have said that Huang does not care about Orchid Island’s residents, but he would prove them wrong by launching a referendum proposal to push the government to move nuclear waste back to the plants, he said, adding that nuclear waste can be safe if it is properly stored in a secluded location.
The proponents would have more discussions with Orchid Island’s Tao people about how they should launch the nuclear waste proposal and announce an initial plan later this week, said Liao Yen-peng (廖彥朋), a nuclear power supporter and Chinese Society of Medical Physics member.
Separately yesterday, opponents of nuclear power called on the government to decommission the plants according to schedule, saying that their locations near fault lines continue to pose a danger to local residents.
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