Aside from all the antics and rhetoric, we need to realize three basic facts: First, like Japan, Taiwan is located on a major seismic fault and no design will be safe enough to withstand a major shock, as we saw in Fukushima.
Second, Taiwan is a small and densely populated place: The Taipei metropolitan area (with about 7 million people) is only 40km from Gongliao, while the city of Keelung is only 20km to the northwest of the nuclear plant. In case of a catastrophic event, it will be impossible to evacuate that many people in a short time.
Third, because of its size, Taiwan has inadequate facilities to store nuclear waste. At present, much of the nation’s nuclear waste is stored on Lanyu (蘭嶼) — also known as Orchid Island — off the southeast coast of Taiwan, literally in the backyard of the Yami people. Unless Ma and the Taiwan power Co bosses agree to store the nuclear waste in their own backyard, nuclear power should be phased out sooner rather than later.
Mei-chin Chen is a commentator based in Washington.