The Yilan County Environmental Protection League on Wednesday tendered a 3,525-signature petition calling on the Yilan County Government to consider holding a local referendum on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).
The group launched its signature drive last week and has, in accordance with regulations, passed the required threshold of 0.005 percent of the most recent headcount of eligible voters, or 1,760 people, in the county commissioner elections.
The group said it collected more than 3,000 signatures in just five days.
Although the Executive Yuan has already proposed a national referendum be held on the fate of the Fouth Nuclear Power Plant, the matter affects residents of Keelung, New Taipei City (新北市), Taipei and Yilan County the most, said Chang Chieh-lung (張捷隆), a member of the group.
“Residents of regions most affected should be the ones to vote in the referendum,” he added.
Representatives from Yilan County had been excluded from a meeting with the heads of New Taipei City, Taipei and Keelung on March 25, during which Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said that Yilan was not included because it is outside the 8km nuclear exclusion zone.
In response, Yilan County Commissioner Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said that two boroughs of Yilan’s Toucheng Township (頭城) are well within the 8km zone.
“The 8km exclusion zone laid out by the Executive Yuan is ridiculous,” Chang said. “[In the event of a nuclear accident] are you going to stay put if you’re living on the 8.1km mark?”
“The entirety of Yilan County would be affected in the event of a nuclear disaster and the county government, tasked with prevention of nuclear disasters, medical relief, rescue operations and evacuation of citizens should be able to make its own decisions in accordance with the Local Government Act (地方制度法),” he added.
Having now achieved its goal of launching a petition, Chang said he was confident it would be able to pass the local government’s referendum review committee without difficulty.
“We hope the Executive Yuan will not obstruct the passage of the petition in any way, and we call on the county government to stand firm in the face of any opposition,” he said.
According to Yilan County Councilor Chiang Tsung-yuan (江聰淵) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who doubles as a member of the referendum committee, the referendum petition should clear the county government’s committee without any obstruction.
If the Executive Yuan chooses to obstruct the will of the public, then people would not stand for it, Chiang said, adding that in such an event the county government would resort to other options to make its voice heard.
The group plans to proceed with the second phase of signature collection if the petition clears the committee. In the second stage, the petition needs to attract signatures from 0.05 percent of all eligible voters in the most recent county commissioner election, roughly 18,000, before it could proceed to the next phase.
“We hope that everyone in Yilan County can lend a hand in helping protect our homes,” Chang said.
According to Yilan County Government’s Home Affairs Department Director Chen Wen-chang (陳文昌), the county government, in accordance with proper procedures concerning local referendums will review the petition within three days and then forward it to the Executive Yuan for approval.
Providing the Executive Yuan approves the petition, the proponents of the referendum can then move forward with the second round of signature collections, he said, adding that if the Executive Yuan rejects the referendum application, then the county government has to comply with legal and administrative procedures and also reject it.