With election campaigns under way, presidential candidates of the opposition parties have turned to support the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮). New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, once called the question of reactivating the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant rhetorical, saying that “no solution for nuclear waste means no nuclear power.” Now he says that he would not phase out nuclear power.
Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) used to find fault with the the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant policy. Now he says that nuclear power should be considered necessary.
In 1980, the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project was launched in Yenliao (鹽寮) in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮). Construction proceeded intermittingly, but in 2014, it came to a halt. The Control Yuan investigated and censured the project several times. The Atomic Energy Council also handed fines to those involved in the construction. Today, the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project is unfinished, with numerous safety issues still plaguing the site.
On Dec. 31, 2020, the construction permit for the plant expired. As specified by Article 5 and Article 30 of the Nuclear Reactor Facilities Regulation Act (核子反應器設施管制法), construction cannot resume without a permit. Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) thus filed an application, which was approved by the Nuclear Safety Commission, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the New Taipei City Government and Gongliao District Office. It was decided that the construction would be halted, and the surrounding area would no longer be restricted as a low-density residential zone.
Yet the area has had its designation changed as a nuclear power facility. This is not in line with Article 26 in the Urban Planning Act (都市計畫法), which specifies that modification is needed once the land development is changed. Additionally, Article 49 of the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) requires that the expropriation of land be revoked once it is no longer reserved for public facilities.
When construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was halted in 2014, the total installed power capacity in Taiwan was 48,819MW. This September, the capacity reached 63,483MW — an increase of 14,664MW — much more than the capacity that would have been generated by the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (270MW). Today, Taiwan’s renewable energy installations have a 16,966MW capacity, a huge increase compared with before (3,836MW).
In 2014, the annual electricity production was 2,599GWh (gigawatt-hours). Last year, the number increased to 2,881GWh. Clearly, it is unnecessary to be fixated on the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
The construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has already been blocked through referendums five times. Nevertheless, with or without the Referendum Act (公民投票法), politicians are still obsessed with this unsafe nuclear power plant.
Referendum Act Article 30 and Article 32 say that the result of a referendum is legally binding for two years. If the ruling party is determined to abolish the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project, it must modify the land usage as soon as possible and revoke the expropriation of the land. The ruling party should also plan the transition of the land to rid the public of the four-decade-long Fourth Nuclear Power Plant dispute. That way, Taiwan could achieve a transition to sustainable energy much faster.
Tsai Ya-ying is an attorney for the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association.
Translated by Emma Liu
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