Hundreds of academics in Taiwan published an open letter on Wednesday urging voters to vote “no” in an upcoming referendum that proposes to reverse a policy of phasing out nuclear power.
Alongside local elections on Nov. 24, Taiwan will simultaneously hold 10 referendums, including one about nuclear power.
The referendum proposed to abolish a clause of the Electricity Act that was added in 2017, which stipulated that Taiwan’s nuclear power plants would be shut down by 2025.
Initiators of the referendum argue that nuclear power is safe and clean.
The letter, endorsed by 559 academics including Nobel Chemistry Prize laureate Lee Yuan-Tseh, urged the public to vote to keep the clause.
The letter stressed the dangers posed by Taiwan’s nuclear plants and unresolved radioactive waste problems.
Taiwan’s nuclear waste has piled up at three ageing power plants and at a 36-year-old interim storage facility on Orchid Island, an offshore islet in eastern Taiwan.
Chen Wen-shan, a geoscientist at National Taiwan University, told a news conference that recent surveys revealed that the earthquake-prone island’s nuclear power plants sit very close to active faults.
“Regarding nuclear safety issues, you can’t bargain,’’ Chen said, adding that the threats posed by tsunamis to nuclear power plants were not seriously studied until Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, since her inauguration in May 2016, has called for 20 per cent of the island’s power to come from renewable sources by 2025 as part of an effort to phase out nuclear power.