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30,000 signatures for anti-nuclear vote: Taiwan ex-Vice President
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-01-20 12:23 AM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – More than 30,000 people had signed the petition for a referendum in New Taipei City about the fourth nuclear plant, former Vice President Annette Lu said Saturday.

The number is more than double the minimum needed to apply for a plebiscite under new regulations introduced by the city last year. Lu joined the campaign and became a driving force to call a stop to the project in Gongliao on Taiwan’s north coast.

The state-owned Taiwan Power Corporation is likely to apply for the loading of nuclear fuel rods into the first reactor some time next year, according to recent reports. The campaigners want the referendum to prevent the plant from starting up.

Lu’s office said the effort was difficult because the city government required all signatures to be arranged according to district and neighborhood. On some forms, the handwriting was not clearly legible or some key data were forgotten, forcing campaigners to phone individuals to make up for the problems.

The campaign needed a few more weeks before it could become clear when the forms would be filed with the city government, Lu’s office said.

The efforts to stop the fourth nuclear plant received an unexpected boost recently when Irene Chen, board director of the Fubon Cultural and Educational Foundation, said she would find 100,000 mothers to keep an eye on the safety of Taiwan’s three existing nuclear plants and the fourth one under construction.

She recently renewed her call for an immediate stop to the Gongliao project because of its threats to the safety of the estimated 6 million people living in Northern Taiwan.

Chen, a former television anchor, said she was confident of rallying enough people to support the cause. Anti-nuclear protesters featured prominently during the January 13 anti-government march and during New Year’s celebrations.

Taipower said Friday that if the fourth plant was dropped, electricity prices would rise by 14 percent. If the government followed a proposal from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party to phase out nuclear energy by 2025, prices would rise by 49 percent, the state-owned utility warned.

The company denied it was trying to intimidate the public into dropping its opposition against nuclear energy. If Taiwan wanted to meet its obligations to cut carbon emissions while reducing its dependence on nuclear energy at the same time, it would need to build 12 gas-fired power plants, which would produce more expensive energy, Taipower said.

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