Nuclear Power Debate: Lawmakers grill premier on referendum

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 09, 2013 - Page 3

Opposition lawmakers yesterday questioned Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) over his initiative to decide the future of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) through a referendum.

At the request of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Jiang was present at a plenary session at the legislature yesterday to brief lawmakers on the Cabinet’s policy on the power plant and answer questions on the issue.

In his 14-page report, Jiang reiterated government pledges to ensure the safe operation of the nearly complete Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and the government’s declared goal to turn Taiwan into a nuclear-free country by steadily reducing reliance on nuclear energy.

DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said he repeatedly heard Jiang give assurances on the safety of the plant but he did not see him propose any concrete measures to achieve this.

Instead, Jiang kept accusing people who oppose the nuclear power plant of being “irrational” and basing their stance on “anti-nuclear ideology,” Tuan said.

In the report, Jiang said that people could oppose the power plant even though its safety is assured and they know that halting the construction could result in higher electricity costs, power shortages and adversely effect economic growth and the cutting of carbon dioxide emissions because an anti-nuclear stance is “a matter of values.”

“How arrogant you were,” Tuan said. “Why didn’t you say that it’s a ‘matter of values’ that the government views nuclear power generation as an indispensable option?”

DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said she felt “disgusted” with the referendum proposal being initiated by a party and a government whose policy was to complete the construction of the power plant and continue to develop nuclear energy.

In response to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔), Jiang said that if the power plant was abolished, electricity prices could increase by 10 percent in the near term and by 30 percent to 40 percent after the existing three nuclear power plants are decommissioned, Jiang said.

He dismissed a media report quoting Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Chen Yuh-chang (陳裕璋) as saying that Taiwan’s TAIEX index could decline as much as 2,000 points if the government ordered a halt to the construction.

However, a plunge of more than 2,000 points followed the halting of work on the plant by the DPP government in 2000, Jiang said.

“It’s what had happened in the past. It’s a historical fact, not a stick to beat anti-nuclear activists,” he said when fielding a question from Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲).