Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) Environmental groups have launched a campaign to collect signatures to initiate a referendum on the fate of three nuclear plants in New Taipei.
Anti-nuclear activists, led by Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) Secretary-General Lee Cho-han, gathered in front of the Executive Yuan Thursday to announce the start of the signature collection drive.
Lee said the group would hold a series of anti-nuclear presentations to inform the public on the issue and set up stations across the city to collect signatures.
The group's initial goal is to collect 20,000 signatures supporting the drive, even though New Taipei has yet to pass a law setting specific conditions under which a local referendum could be initiated.
Two of Taiwan's three active nuclear power plants and the fourth nuclear power plant under construction are located in the special municipality.
According to the state-owned Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), the active first and second nuclear plants are due to be decommissioned between 2018-2025.
Calls to halt nuclear power generation in Taiwan have grown since Japan suffered a nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture following a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Taiwan is also vulnerable to earthquakes, sparking concerns that a natural incident could set off a similar nuclear accident and release radioactive substances.
Nuclear power accounted for 12.6 percent of Taiwan's installed capacity and 19.3 percent of its total electricity production in 2010, according to Taipower statistics.
(By Wei Yun-ling and Scully Hsiao)