Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday said she was optimistic an anti-nuclear referendum in New Taipei City (新北市) would be held next year to stop the operation of the yet-to-be-completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Longmen (龍門).
“The Taiwan Alliance for Green 21 is ready to submit a referendum proposal after collecting more than 16,000 signatures and is now working on the next goal of 160,000 signatures, the threshold for a referendum in New Taipei City,” Lu, founder of the alliance, said during her visit to the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) seeking support.
The New Taipei City Council’s passage of the Act Governing New Taipei Referendums (新北市公民投票自治條例) on June 25, the first referendum law at the local level in Taiwan, made it possible for local residents to have a say on local matters through referendums.
That was why Lu, an advocate of a “nuclear-free homeland,” began the referendum drive in July.
“I believe we hold the key to close the door on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant,” she said.
Lu, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member, said collecting the required minimum of signatures should not be a problem since the DPP and the TSU had both pledged support and former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) received more than 1 million votes in the 2010 New Taipei mayoral election.
According to the act, if more than 1.6 million New Taipei City residents participate in the referendum, with half of them supporting the halting of fuel rods loading, operation of the nuclear power plant would be halted.
The campaign faces time constraints, Lu said, as the power plant reportedly would begin operation and start to load nuclear fuel rods in August or September next year.
Northern Taiwan has the highest density of nuclear power plants in the world with three plants — the First, Second and Fourth power plants, the former vice president said.
The accident at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in March last year, numerous mismanagement and operations flaws at the Fourth nuclear power plant and a recent discovery of a 100km-deep fault in northern Taiwan all added to concerns about Taiwan’s nuclear power situation, Lu said.
If Taiwan could reduce its reserve capacity of electricity and increase its green power production, nuclear power would not be necessary, Lu said.