Taiwan activists deliver anti-nuclear referendum petition

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Activists took a step forward Tuesday in the campaign for a new anti-nuclear referendum.

Activists took a step forward Tuesday in the campaign for a new anti-nuclear referendum. (By Central News Agency)

A local anti-nuclear coalition submitted a referendum petition Tuesday to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for initial screening.

The petition initiated by the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform (NNAAP), which represents 126 anti-nuclear groups around Taiwan, has collected 2,800 signatures.

The proposed referendum would ask voters if they agree that until a repository for high-level radioactive waste is built and operational, Taiwan should not build, expand or continue construction of nuclear plants and should not extend the lifespans of existing ones.

Before a solution for final disposal of radioactive waste is found, no more such waste should be created, Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan Deputy CEO Tsai Chung-yueh (蔡中岳) said at a press conference in front of the CEC building.

Under the recently revised Referendum Act, the required number of signatures on a referendum petition in the first stage is 0.01 percent of the electorate, and 1.5 percent in the second stage.

That means that 1,879 signatures were required in the first stage of the current referendum drive and 281,745 in the second stage, based on the electorate of 18,782,991 in the 2016 presidential election.

According to the revised law, a referendum vote will be declared valid if 25 percent of the electorate casts ballots and a majority votes in favor of the petition.

In November 2018, Taiwanese voters rejected the government's phase-out of nuclear power in a referendum that asked voters if they agree to abolish paragraph 1 of Article 95 of the Electricity Act, which stipulates that "all nuclear energy-based power-generating facilities shall completely cease operations by 2025."

However, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said in late January that Taiwan will not extend the lives of existing nuclear power plants, nor will it resume construction of the mothballed fourth nuclear power plant, citing opposition from local governments and the difficulties presented by the disposal of nuclear waste. (By Wang Cheng-chung and Evelyn Kao)