REFERENDUMS 2021/Nuclear plant will be reactivated if people vote for it: premier

11/09/2021 03:40 PM
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Premier Su Tseng-chang (center) urges people to vote against the four proposals in the Dec. 18 referendums at a rally in New Taipei on Nov. 7. CNA file photo
Premier Su Tseng-chang (center) urges people to vote against the four proposals in the Dec. 18 referendums at a rally in New Taipei on Nov. 7. CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 9 (CNA) Taiwan's long-mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant will be unsealed if people vote in favor of its reactivation in an upcoming referendum, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Tuesday, although one of his ministers nixed nuclear power as an answer to the country's energy dilemma earlier in the day.

Speaking at a legislative session, Su said that the plant, which has lain dormant since it was mothballed by then President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in 2015, must be unsealed according to the Referendum Act, if that is the people's choice.

Launched by nuclear power advocate Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), referendum No. 17, one of the four referendum votes slated for Dec. 18, asks "Do you agree that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be unsealed and operated commercially to generate electricity?"

Su said that a possible restart of the nuclear power plant in New Taipei has made locals extremely worried, citing feedback he received from residents in the city's neighboring county of Yilan the previous day.

The power plant was sealed by Kuomintang's Ma after the almost-completed construction encountered public opposition due to perceived safety risks.

However, Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花) told reporters before the legislative session that anyone who understands the power plant's safety concerns and related problems would know that its reactivation "will not be an option."

The power plant not only lies on fault lines but also has operational problems with its generator No. 1, which has not passed the required inspection, Wang said.

Reactivation of the power plant would take more than 10 years, she said, citing evaluations from the Atomic Energy Council.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party is intent on phasing out nuclear power by 2025, and Taiwan's dependence on such energy for electricity generation has fallen significantly from over 50 percent in 1985 to only 12.7 percent in 2020, according to Taiwan Power Company data.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang, Kuo Chien-shen and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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