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June 27, 2017

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Anti-nuclear stance not political: New Taipei mayor

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday explained the reasoning behind his provisional opposition to the fourth nuclear power plant, saying his position is based purely on safety concerns and not political benefit.

On Oct. 31 Chu said that as long as he is still mayor, he will not allow the fourth nuclear power plant to become operational unless consensus is reached between the city government and citizens. He also criticized the Atomic Energy Council (原能會) for their handling of the waste of nuclear energy as careless and perfunctory. He said he is not against the idea of citizens holding a referendum about the fourth nuclear power plant.

The plant, officially known as the Longman Nuclear Power Plant, is located in Longman, northeastern New Taipei. Construction began in 1997, and it had been expected that the plant would go online by 2009. However, it is not yet operational.

Chu said that he is against the first and the second nuclear power plants operating passed their retirement date.

Chu refused to sign a petition for a referendum about whether the fourth nuclear power plant should begin operations. He said that as mayor it is inappropriate for him to sign such a document.

Following Chu's remark on Oct. 31, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said Wednesday that if the safety of the fourth nuclear power plant is not guaranteed, there is no reason for the power plant to start functioning. Hau emphasized that the decision is not for the central government or Taiwan Power Company (台灣電力公司) to make. The Taipei City Government, New Taipei City Government, Keelung City Government, and Yilan County Government should be included in a supervision of the power plant's operation, Hau added

Democratic Progressive Party Councilor Ho Shu-feng (何淑峰) suggested that Chu's words were a clever political move, tapping into the fact that most Taiwanese are against the operation of the fourth nuclear power plant. Ho noted that Chu is likely to be the next Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate, and the incumbent KMT government is not popular.

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