New Taipei City’s 4 million residents need a stable power supply to live well, former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday, but added that he would not support any power plant that is unsafe or pollutive.
Su on Thursday announced his bid to run for New Taipei City mayor in the Nov. 24 local elections as the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate.
He made the remarks during a visit to the city’s Bali District (八里) after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) New Taipei City mayoral candidate Hou Yu-yi (侯友宜) asked him to clarify his stance on the opening of the new Shenao Power Plant in the city’s Rueifang District (瑞芳).
Su also said safety should be the primary concern when discussing whether the No. 2 reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in the city’s Wanli District (萬里) should be restarted and when discussing the plant’s decommissioning.
The reactor on March 28 triggered an emergency shutdown due to a problem with its steam valve, one day after it was restarted following the conclusion of an overhaul that had begun in May 2016.
When asked if he had expressed his view to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Su did not give a direct response, only saying that he would strive for the well-being of city residents and communicate with the central government over all kinds of issues, including those related to power plants.
Some DPP and KMT lawmakers requested that the central government conduct a new environmental impact assessment for the Shenao plant, but the request was on Friday rejected by Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇).
Some Rueifang residents have also called for replacing the plant’s coal-fired generators with gas-fired ones.
However, Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) of the DPP yesterday said that gas pipelines would have to pass under the city center and provoke more opposition.
The plant’s fate can be decided by New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), who could end the controversy if the city government rejected the plant’s opening, Lin said.
The Shenao plant should not have become a tool for political struggle, Lin said, calling on Taiwan Power Co (台電) to communicate with the public by providing scientific data so that members of the public can address the issue in a rational manner.
Meanwhile, Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) on Friday during a radio interview said that the plant must be built to meet northern Taiwan’s electricity demand, adding that the plant would not be needed if the five cities and counties in northern Taiwan could reduce energy usage by 10 percent.
Asked for comment, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said the goal would be difficult to achieve.
“Honestly speaking, I think it would be difficult for Taipei to cut electricity usage by even 1 percent, because the industrial and business sectors are developing,” he said. “It is already challenging not to increase electricity usage at all, so it is very difficult to reduce usage by 10 percent.”
Professional assessment is needed to tackle the controversy over whether the plant should be opened, Ko said.
“Many people are doubtful about what the [central] government says, so it should release statistical data to the public... It is obligated to bring out all the information and try to persuade the public,” he said.
Additional reporting by Lee I-chia
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