Freeze nuclear budget: activists

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, May 20, 2011 - Page 3

Environmental activists yesterday vowed to mobilize crowds and besiege the legislature if lawmakers fail to freeze the budget for the Longmen Nuclear Power Plant — also known as the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant — in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).

The vow was made on the eve of a series of negotiations scheduled to start today in the legislature on a NT$14 billion (US$500 million) budget plan for the nuclear power plant.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said on Tuesday during a nuclear disaster drill that the nation cannot sustain itself without nuclear energy in the short term.

He said all three existing nuclear power plants would continue to operate and construction on the fourth plant would proceed as scheduled.

Aggravated by his remarks, the protesters yesterday countered Ma’s argument by saying that if the Longmen plant began operations, it would become one of the most dangerous plants in the world and the nation would eventually go bankrupt if it continued to build it.

Activists listed major problems with the plant that have been identified since 2008, from Taiwan Power Co’s illegal changes to the plant’s construction design to a 28-hour blackout inside the plant caused by a melted electric circuit.

When taking into account the costs of constructing the plant, purchasing the nuclear fuel, and handling nuclear waste and -discharges from the power plant, they estimated that the nation would need to spend at least NT$874 billion on the plant.

The protesters said that if the nation used the same amount of money to invest in developing renewable energy, it would help create an additional 5.2 gigawatts of installed electric capacity, turning Taiwan into a nation powered by green energy.