Taiwan abandons 2025 nuclear-free deadline following referendum

Public concern has turned to air pollution: government spokeswoman

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Supporters of the referendum in favor of keeping nuclear energy for the time being.

Supporters of the referendum in favor of keeping nuclear energy for the time being. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan will no longer aim to become a nuclear-free country by 2025 as the result of one of last Saturday’s referendums, the government spokesperson said Tuesday.

Citizens voted on 10 referendums Saturday, in most cases coming up with support for issues against the government stance.

As a majority voted in favor of the opposition motion to continue with nuclear energy while alternative green energy sources were being developed, the government would no longer see 2025 as the date to close down all the country’s nuclear power plants, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said in a statement Tuesday evening.

She listed the pros and cons of different energy forms, acknowledging that nuclear energy produced less air pollution, one of the main concerns of the referendum, but noted that the problem of handling and storing nuclear waste would remain a serious issue, the Central News Agency reported.

After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, public opinion took a strong turn against nuclear energy, leading the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to promise an end to nuclear power in Taiwan by 2025, yet at present, concern has been mounting about air pollution, Kolas said.

As a response to the referendum outcome, the government will amend the law and drop 2025 as the date for a nuclear-free Taiwan, according to the spokeswoman.

On Thursday, Cabinet and DPP legislators will sit down together to discuss energy policies and the referendums, CNA reported.