Tue, Mar 05, 2019 - Page 3 News List

New nuclear power referendums filed

IN PROPORTION:One plebiscite proposal would tie nuclear energy generation to coal-fired power supply, so opponents of both methods need not oppose it, initiators said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Society of Medical Physics member Liao Yen-peng, left, and Nuclear Myth Busters founder Huang Shih-hsiu hold a news conference in Taipei yesterday on their proposed referedums to extend the lives of the three operating nuclear power plants and restart construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Photo: CNA

Nuclear power advocates yesterday submitted two referendum proposals to the Central Election Commission that seek to extend the operations of the three operating nuclear plants and to resume construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

The proposals, submitted by Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), founder of the Nuclear Myth Busters group, and Liao Yen-peng (廖彥朋), a Chinese Society of Medical Physics member, ask that the government relaunch work on the mothballed plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) and to pass a law regulating the ratio of nuclear to coal-fired power generation.

A referendum to abolish the government’s “nuclear-free homeland by 2025” policy was passed on Nov. 24 last year after garnering more than 5.8 million votes in favor.

Work on the fourth plant was officially halted in 2015, under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration of then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).

Ma, Jiang and former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), another KMT member, have all voiced support for construction of the plant to resume, but Chu has come under fire due to his previous reservations about the nation’s nuclear waste problem.

The second proposal submitted yesterday asks: “Do you agree that the Legislative Yuan should pass a law governing the use of nuclear power and reduction of coal-fired power that includes an accountability mechanism, to ensure that the ratio of nuclear power would not be lower than that of coal-fired power by 2030?”

It is about the relative proportions of the two energy sources and accommodates the desire of many nuclear energy opponents for both types of generation to be phased out, so they should have no reason to oppose it, Huang said.

They submitted 3,948 petitions for the first proposal and 4,254 petitions for the second one, more than the first-stage threshold of 1,879, he said.

They are also working on another proposal that would ask the government to transport low-level radioactive waste now stored on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) back to the three operational plants, but more discussion with the island’s Tao community is needed, Liao said.

They expect to submit the proposal within two years, he said.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) yesterday told lawmakers that he respects people’s right to initiate referendums, but there would not be any power shortages by 2025.

During a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Shen said that after a careful evaluation after last year’s elections and referendums, the ministry decided to maintain its original energy mix plan and decommission nuclear power generating facilities by 2025 as scheduled.

However, in response to additional questions, he said several times that nuclear waste disposal would remain difficult.

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