Proponents, opponents voice pros, cons of nuclear power

Taipei, Proponents and opponents of the government's policy of phasing out nuclear power in Taiwan by 2025 voiced their stances at a forum Monday ahead of a Nov. 24 referendum on the issue.

Huang Shih-hsiu (???), founder of Nuclear Myth Busters and initiator of the referendum, exchanged opinions with Green Action Alliance Deputy Secretary-General Hung Shen-han (???), who opposes the use of nuclear power, in the event organized by the Central Election Commission, the third on the issue.

The referendum will ask voters if they agree with abolishing the first paragraph of Article 95 of the Electricity Act, which stipulates that all nuclear power generation facilities in Taiwan should cease to operate by 2025.

Citing Japan as example, Huang said Japan suffered a huge trade deficit of 18 trillion yen between 2011 and 2013, when its government excluded nuclear power from the options for its electricity generation, due mainly to massive imports of energy such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe restored the use of nuclear power in 2014, Japan has re-opened nine nuclear power reactors and has lowered its electricity rates twice, Huang said.

In the future, Japan will continue to use nuclear power and renewable resources for electricity generation, despite the fact that "it is a country that has suffered damage caused by a nuclear disaster and has been hit twice by nuclear bombs," he said.

For his part, Hung questioned why no lessons have been learned from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, saying that the "cruel and deceiving" proposal to continue using nuclear energy has panicked residents living near three power plants located close to fault lines in Taiwan.

Hung read out loud a letter from a resident living on the country's north coast, which stated that he has been plagued with worry and fear over living near a nuclear power plant.

"How can these nuclear power supporters dare to propose to extend the service of nuclear power plants by another 20 years" when there is yet no solution to the problem of nuclear power waste? he asked.

Hung urged the pro-nuclear advocates to listen to "what the people (living near the nuclear power plants) say."

In the second round of exchanges, Huang maintained his stance that the country should continue the use of nuclear power while fully supporting the development of renewable energy.

Huang said he is worried that Taiwan will face electricity shortages in the years beyond 2025 if a typhoon hits when the country's energy mix is made up of 50 percent of LNG and 20 percent of renewable resources.

He also said he will initiate a proposal to hold a referendum on relocating radioactive waste from Orchid Island to save the Tao tribe that inhabits the small island off Taitung County.

In response, Hung criticized Huang for using the word "save" with respect to the Tao people.

"No one will object the proposal to remove nuclear power waste from Orchid Island," he said, but added that "it is not an issue that can be dealt with only by a referendum."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel