Ma broke pledge on nuclear safety, lawmakers say

By Chris Wang and Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporters

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has betrayed its pledge to make the safety of the controversial construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao Dictrict (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市) a priority by sending the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) referendum proposal to the legislature’s plenary session, the pan-green camp said yesterday.

The Legislative Yuan’s Procedure Committee, in which the KMT enjoys a majority, on Monday listed the referendum proposal initiated by KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) on the agenda for the plenary session on Friday.

The move was interpreted by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) as a violation of a pledge that Ma and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) made last month, which promised “no nuclear safety, no nuclear energy” to the public.

The government had said a national referendum on the controversial nuclear power plant would only be necessary after nuclear safety, an issue of the quality of the plant’s construction and disposal of nuclear waste, was assured, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said.

“However, it appeared that Ma hinted in his interview with the media on Friday that nuclear safety would be a separate issue from the referendum, which means that a national referendum will be held regardless of whether nuclear safety is assured,” Yeh told a press conference.

Asking people to vote on the nuclear power plant without sufficient information and professional assessment would be unfair, she added.

The safety concerns over the nuclear power plant will not be addressed within the next six months because the government did not begin its safety review until recently, Yeh said.

DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) said the referendum proposal should be initiated by the Executive Yuan, rather than a KMT lawmaker, because the legislature is not obligated to endorse the controversial referendum.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday said the plenary session could either send the proposal to a specific committee, proceed directly to a second reading or send it back to the Procedure Committee.

The TSU caucus, meanwhile, said that the KMT’s insistence on holding the referendum was a political calculation based on the high threshold required for a referendum to pass and on manipulating the referendum question.

The referendum should not be held before three nuclear-related bills currently in the legislature are dealt with, including a bill on referendums in evacuation zones, a bill on promoting a nuclear-free homeland and an amendment to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), it said.

Separately yesterday, DPP legislators Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) and Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), together with several academics, once again stressed that the nation’s geography is not suitable for nuclear power plants.

Ahead of an ad hoc meeting to be held by the legislature’s Economics Committee today about Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) geological survey on the three operating nuclear power plants, the legislators and academics said reports show that all of the nuclear power plants are near faults, volcanoes and underwater volcanoes — all seismically unstable areas.

National Taiwan Ocean University professor of applied geosciences Lee Chao-shing (李昭興) said the Shanjiao Fault (山腳斷層) that stretches from the Jinshan Fault (金山斷層) has been found to be at least 40km, and it may be found to be even be longer if further geological surveys are conducted in other areas.

He said the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen District (石門), New Taipei City, is only 7km from the Shanjiao Fault, the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in the same city’s Wanli District (萬里) is only 2km from the Kanjiao Fault (崁腳斷層) and the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County’s Ma-anshan (馬鞍山) is on the Hengchun Fault (恆春斷層).

The yet-to-be completed new plant may be on the Fangjiao Fault (枋腳斷層), Lee added.

“Taiwan is the only country that builds nuclear power plants on faults, and near volcanoes and its capital,” Tien said, adding that while the government repeatedly promised that nuclear power generation will only begin when nuclear safety is ensured in advance, the geological survey shows that the plants are not safe.