Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday stood firm on his opposition to the continued construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, amid concern from the Presidential Office and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) about his stance on the issue.
Hau became the first local government head from the pan-blue camp to declare his stance on the nuclear issue by saying on Thursday that he would vote “yes” in a national referendum asking voters if construction and operation of the plant should be suspended.
His announcement prompted President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to call him on Thursday night to discuss his stance on the power plant. Ma met him yesterday in the Presidential Office to continue their discussion on the issue.
Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said Ma and Hau exchanged opinions on the construction of the power plant, alternative sources of energy and the potential impact on the economy if the plant is suspended.
“The president said whether or not the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be suspended is a crucial issue, and the public must be given sufficient information to help them make the final decision,” she said.
Hau yesterday said he opposed the construction of the power plant because of the state-owned Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) poor quality control over the plant and its failure to solve the problem of storing nuclear waste.
“I told President Ma that under the current situation, I would support suspension of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant if the referendum is held tomorrow. My stance will not change,” he said.
As the government prepares for a national referendum on the issue, Hau said he believed the public would gain a better understanding of the power plant’s operations and its safety issues, and that a public consensus could be formed gradually.
“If more and more people oppose the plant’s construction, or local city councilors voted to oppose its construction, the government can reconsider the necessity of holding a referendum,” he said.
At a question-and-answer session at the legislature yesterday, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said that he, the president, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Hau were in frequent contact with each other to exchange views about the power plant.
“We all share the same position,” Jiang said when answering questions from KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍).
Hau’s statement that he would vote for halting construction was predicated on the “referendum being held tomorrow,” Jiang said.
“We understand that people are concerned about the nuclear power plant’s safety, which is why the government is set to invite internationally recognized experts to conduct a comprehensive safety assessment of the power plant,” Jiang said.
Once the safety assessment is completed and related information on nuclear safety is made public, people will be more well-informed before the referendum, he said.
Separately yesterday, KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) led about 30 members to visit the plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).
KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) said party members visited the plant’s pumping station and control room and asked Taipower to ensure transparency in disclosing public information about the plant.
The KMT’s nuclear policy remains the same, which is to ensure nuclear safety and to reduce the nation’s dependence on nuclear power gradually, he added.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan