Mon, Mar 12, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Thousands march against nuclear power

GO ZERO:Activists, non-governmental organizations and people from across the nation took to the streets of Taipei yesterday to urge a rethink of nuclear energy

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Participants in an anti-nuclear rally organized by non-governmental organizations mark the first anniversary of last year’s nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, by holding up banners and placards in Taipei yesterday and demanding an end to the use of nuclear power in Taiwan.

Photo: CNA

Thousands of opponents of nuclear energy from across the nation paraded in the streets of Taipei yesterday to mark the first anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

“Nuclear go zero — rethink nuclear power” was the main theme of the protest, during which participants urged the public to consider the risks posed by a nuclear disaster, nuclear waste contamination and unlimited demand for electricity.

At 1:46pm (2:46pm in Japan, when the earthquake struck), the crowd held a minute of silence for the victims of the disaster before moving from Longshan Temple MRT Station.

Organizers estimated that more than 5,000 people and more than 100 NGOs took part in the rally.

With processional troupes from religious groups leading the parade, protesters held yellow balloons with anti-nuclear slogans, banged on African drums while shouting battle cries and held green paper windmills symbolizing “green” energy as they marched through the streets.

Participants from the Humanistic Education Foundation held black and white portraits of themselves, similar to those used in funeral processions, saying there would be no tomorrow if a nuclear disaster occurred.

“Many people think that the possibility of a nuclear disaster is a distant one ... but actually the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant [in Shihmen District (石門), New Taipei City (新北市)] and the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant [in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里)] are less than 30km away from us, and the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant [in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮)] is only 40km away from the Presidential Office,” Taiwan Environmental Protection Union secretary-general Lee Cho-han (李卓翰) said.

“We are protesting today for the children of today and tomorrow,” Lee said.

A special feature of the parade was the participation of Tao Aborigines from Lanyu, who oppose the dumping of nuclear waste on the island by Taiwan Power Co (Taipower).

“Against nuclear waste, save Lanyu. Against nuclear power, save Taiwan,” the residents of Lanyu shouted, with several people in traditional dress and occasionally performing a ritual to drive evil spirits (nuclear waste) away by shouting in a low-pitched voice.

Sinan Mavivo, an anti-nuclear activist and resident of Lanyu, said that for the past 30 years the children of Lanyu had grown up under the threat of nuclear waste in their homeland, while many people on the island have been diagnosed with cancer that has very likely been caused by radiation from the waste.

“A researcher at Academia Sinica last year confirmed there was radioactive leakage near the nuclear waste storage [facility] on the island,” she said. “But Taipower keeps trying to cover-up the fact and lies about the danger.”

Residents of the island urged the government to remove the nuclear waste immediately to protect their health and suggested that health check-ups be provided for residents.

“If we don’t stop nuclear power today, tomorrow our tears will become a river,” a wheelchair-bound protester from Keelung said.

Simulating a nuclear leak in northern Taiwan for three minutes during the march, the protesters lay down on the bustling streets in front of the Taipei Railway Station while a siren went off. The skit was to show that if there was a real threat, residents would have nowhere to go.

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