76% of citizens want to halt No. 4 nuclear plant: DPP poll

The China Post news staff and CNA

More than three quarters of the country’s citizens want the government to suspend construction of the country’s fourth nuclear plant, according to the results of an opinion poll conducted by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The DPP poll results were released yesterday, amid mounting concern over nuclear safety as Japan’s nuclear crisis worsens. Of the 1,112 citizens polled, 76.5 percent agree that that government should suspend construction and conduct a safety check, while 18.6 percent disagree.

While 61.1 percent said they have little or no confidence in the government’s ability to handle a nuclear crisis, 30.5 percent said they have confidence in the government’s ability, and 8.4 percent said they don’t know.

Respondents who agree with President Ma Ying-jeou’s recent remarks that “Taiwan’s nuclear power policy will remain unchanged, operating nuclear power plants need not shut down, while efforts will be made to improve safety measures at the fourth” are neck and neck with those who disagree, with 45.3 percent for, 46.6 percent against.

Meanwhile, local anti-nuclear groups gathered in front of the Executive Yuan yesterday, calling for the suspension of construction of the country’s fourth nuclear power plant in Taiwan. Holding lilies, residents of Gongliao, site of the four nuclear plant, called on the government to halt its construction immediately. “There is a 100 percent chance that the power plant will run into trouble, since pre-operating tests have already proven that it is ridden with problems,” said Yang Mu-huo, a 49-year-old protester from the northeast coastal town. The protesters, including environmentalists from the Green Party, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union and Yenliao Anti-Nuclear Self-Help Association, demanded that the government not only halt construction of the No. 4 nuclear power plant but also speed up decommissioning of the three other plants currently in operation. “Power plants No. 1, 2 and 3 were built more than 40 years ago at a time when we had limited technological skills and knowledge of Mother Earth,” said Green Party Secretary-General Pan Han-shen. The groups said they would not rule out the possibility of staging a bigger protest Sunday if the government did not respond positively to their appeals.