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Cabinet stepping up public information on nuclear issue (update)

2013/03/28 21:16:00

Taipei, March 28 (CNA) The Cabinet will arrange for senior government officials to visit the fourth nuclear power plant so that they will have firsthand information on the issue to give to the public, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Thursday.

Jiang said he has asked the relevant office to schedule visits to the fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei City by all government ministers and other top-level officials.

He also reiterated that safety is central to the government's policy of using nuclear power.

Taiwan did not build nuclear plants to prove that it has the ability to do so safely, but rather to stabilize the energy supply for the next 50 years, the premier said.

The government hopes that the nuclear power supply will function effectively until a nuclear-free homeland can be created in Taiwan, he added.

If the operation of the fourth nuclear plant passes the safety tests and the public remains opposed to its operation, the Cabinet will be willing to let the people decide on the issue by means of a referendum, Jiang said.

In related news, 66 percent of the respondents in a Taipei City government poll said they would vote against continued construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant if the issue was put to a referendum, city officials said Thursday.

Seventy one percent of the 1,182 respondents aged 20 and over said they would vote in the referendum, while 23 percent said they would abstain.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said a referendum can be costly and time consuming, and that opinion polls over a certain period of time might be a speedier solution to the nuclear plant controversy.

Also on Thursday, the Cabinet released 14,000 copies of a handbook that gives information on the nuclear power plant, with the aim of allowing the public to gain a better understanding of the issue.

The handbook will be placed in Cabinet-level government agencies and will be available to the public free of cost, Cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wun said at a press conference.

The information in the handbook says that the government will gradually reduce Taiwan's dependence on nuclear power and will develop renewable energies, as part of its goal to eventually create a nuclear-free homeland.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen, Nell Shen, Alex Jiang and Ann Chen)