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Most oppose No. 4 nuke power plant, support referendum: poll

2012/11/11 18:11:52

Taipei, Nov. 11 (CNA) Some 63.8 percent of northern Taiwan residents oppose construction of a fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei, while 78.2 percent approve of a referendum to decide whether to continue the project, according to survey results released by a lawmaker on Sunday.

In a telephone poll commissioned by Cheng Li-chiun of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), only 31.5 percent of those residents polled in the greater Taipei region and Keelung said construction of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in the coastal Gongliao District, New Taipei, should continue.

However, up to 89.2 percent of the respondents agreed to gradually move towards ending the use of nuclear power and build a "nuke-free homeland," compared with 8.3 percent who disagreed, the results indicated.

The fourth nuclear power plant project was proposed in the 1980s and was given approval to begin construction in March 1999. However, the project has been delayed and was suspended between 2000 and 2001 for several months due to nuclear safety concerns.

The plant's construction has been nearly completed and is scheduled to begin operating at the end of 2013, which 71.6 percent said they were not aware of.

Moreover, 83 percent of those polled said they were not confident in the state-owned Taiwan Power Co.'s (TaiPower's) ability to handle a nuclear crisis, if one occurs.

In addition, 67 percent also lacked confidence in the plant's safe operation, compared with 30.8 percent who said they felt the nuclear power plant's staff could safely operate the facility.

The survey results also indicated that most residents in the regions, nearly 7 million people, do not want the power plant to operate and hope to decide on the issue in a referendum, which is a very important message, Cheng concluded.

In June, the New Taipei City council approved a bill that allows the city to hold public referendums on issues such as the country's controversial No. 4 nuclear power plant, which is expected to be first in line. Taiwan's No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, also located in New Taipei, are slated to stop operating in 2020 and 2023. The No. 3 plant is situated in Kenting, Pingtung County in southern Taiwan.

The survey, conducted by New Taipei-based Master Survey & Research Co., Ltd Nov. 6-7, collected 1,075 valid samples from residents over 20-year-old in Taipei, New Taipei and Keelung cities. It has a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Kendra Lin)