More than half the public want construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) to be halted due to safety concerns, according to two surveys released yesterday ahead of a mass protest at the weekend.
Fifty-four percent of the 1,071 people interviewed in a survey commissioned by weekly magazine Business Today were in favor of scrapping the atomic power plant, while 23 percent opposed it.
A total of 63.5 percent believed that nuclear power plants are unsafe against 2.5 percent who considered them safe, while only 11 percent said they have faith in the government’s ability to manage the plants, the poll said.
Another survey conducted by the Chinese-language China Times showed similar results, with 62.4 percent of 761 people interviewed in favor of stopping construction of the plant, against 21.2 percent who want the work to continue.
Debate over the nation’s latest nuclear power facility — under construction since 1999 and still not completed — heated up as the legislature prepared to review an additional budget of about NT$40 billion (US$1.4 billion).
Organizers expect about 50,000 people to take to the streets across the nation tomorrow to urge the government to heed the lessons of the Japanese atomic crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant that was triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami two years ago.
Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes. A magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook buildings in Taipei yesterday.
Last month, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said for the first time that the government would support holding a referendum on the nuclear plant amid mounting public concern.
Then on Monday, officials said that international experts would run safety checks on the existing trio of nuclear plants as part of efforts to reassure the public following the Japanese disaster.
Currently, there are three nuclear power plants in operation — the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen District (石門), New Taipei City, the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli (萬里), New Taipei City, and the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County.