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Former vice president pushes for 'nuclear-free homeland' council

2011/06/13 18:06:01

Taipei, June 13 (CNA) Former Vice President Annette Lu saidMonday that President Ma Ying-jeou should establish a "nuclear-freehomeland" council to carry out the goal of strengthening nuclearpower safety.

"According to the Basic Environment Act, the government shouldcreate an overall plan to move toward a nuclear-free country, so I'msuggesting that the president set up a nuclear-free homeland councilimmediately and hold discussions with specialists and publicrepresentatives to achieve the national goal, " Lu said in Taipei.

The council as envisioned by Lu would include specialists fromthe government, the opposition parties, and academic and religiouscircles, to force more transparent safety inspections of Taiwan'sthree active nuclear plants and expand the scale of nuclear accidentdrills.

"The maneuvers should not be staged like a show, but get morepeople involved, such as residents living within 5 kilometers ofnuclear plants," the former vice president added.

Lu said a fourth of the country's population, or roughly 6million people, lived within 30 kilometers of the country's threeactive nuclear power plants, and she urged authorities to raisegreater awareness of nuclear safety issues to avoid massivecasualties that could result from accidents at the plants.

Despite opposition to nuclear power in Taiwan following Japan'snuclear crisis, the president said on May 18 that nuclear powerplants would continue to run in Taiwan because it was still anirreplaceable energy source.

He said the country's three active plants would remainoperational and construction would continue on the controversialfourth nuclear power plant.

But Lu also hoped the council would conduct a complete safetyinspection of the fourth nuclear power plant to determine whether itcould sustain the impact of natural disasters such as earthquakes andtsunamis.

If the inspection concluded that the facility could not bear suchdamage, its construction should be halted, Lu said.

The Kuomintang-dominated Legislative Yuan approved fiscal 2011budget for the fourth nuclear power plant amidst protests byanti-nuke activists outside the legislative chamber the same day.

(By Jeffrey Wu)