Taipei, Dec. 18 (CNA) A referendum seeking to unseal and restart work on Taiwan’s Fourth Nuclear Power Plant failed to pass Saturday, the first time people have been allowed to directly vote on the facility that has been debated and under construction for more than two decades.
A total of 4,262,451 people (52.3 percent) voted “no” in the referendum that asked if they agreed that the power plant should be unsealed and operated commercially to generate electricity, while 3,804,755 people (46.7 percent) voted “yes.”
But even if the totals had been reversed, the referendum still would not have passed because it did not meet the turnout threshold.
Under Taiwan’s Referendum Act, the referendum question would have needed at least 4,956,367 “yes” votes to pass, or at least one-quarter of all eligible voters, and the “yes” votes to exceed the “no” votes.
Among the four referendum questions, which also covered trade, algae reef conservation and future referendums, that were rejected in Saturday’s vote, the 5.7 percent margin by which “no” votes outnumbered “yes” votes (52.84-47.16 percent) was the highest.
The government has argued that unsealing the power plant would be unfeasible due to cost and safety issues and require years before it could actually generate power.
Pro-nuclear activists argued that the country’s energy shortage and the need to keep greenhouse gas emissions in check made reopening the plant a necessity.
Rejection of the referendum, initiated by nuclear advocate Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), means that the same referendum question cannot be proposed again for another two years.