President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has promised to respond within a week to public concerns over environmental problems, especially the issue of nuclear power, seven representatives of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO) said after a meeting with the president on Earth Day yesterday.
Homemakers United Foundation president Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said they told the president that the fate of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), should not be decided by a national referendum.
She said they also urged that the high threshold for passing a referendum be amended, that the question in the planned referendum be rephrased to whether construction “should be continued,” that a 30km radius “escape zone” from the nuclear plants be established, and that the proposed law on the promotion of a nuclear-free homeland be enacted.
“I told the president that the Fourth Nuclear Plant project should be scrapped immediately, rather than waste so much taxpayers’ money to hold a referendum,” Gongliao Anti-Nuclear Self-Help Association member and Taiwan Environmental Protection Union’s (TEPU) northeastern branch director Wu Wen-chang (吳文樟) said.
“While the three operating nuclear power plants generate about 16 percent of the total electricity supply in Taiwan and the new plant will supply about 6 percent after the three plants are retired, we have more than 20 percent power reserves at present, so I told the president that we won’t have a power shortage problem even if we stop them all at once,” he said.
He said Ma also gave his verbal consent to his proposal to allow Gongliao residents to participate in future visits to the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant construction site, after the self-help association members’ proposal to meet Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) was rejected when he visited the plant on Wednesday.
Citizen’s Congress Watch executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) said he suggested that legislators — as well as citizens — should be able to vote according to their own will on the referendum proposal, rather than conform to an order issued by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus, but Ma did not respond to the suggestion.
Chen said Ma agreed that their suggestion to hold a national energy conference to discuss future energy policy directions may help the public better understand Taiwan’s energy situation.
As for other questions and suggestions, Ma said he would ask concerned government agencies to give them a response within a week.
In addition to nuclear power issues, the groups suggested enacting laws on wetlands and ocean conservation, improving the nation’s self-sufficiency rate in food and food safety, re-evaluating development projects along the eastern coastline and improving public animal shelters and reducing the rate of stray animals put to death.
They said that if the government agencies’ response