Tens of thousands of people opposed to nuclear energy yesterday came together nationwide in antinuclear parades and rallies, joining an alliance of civic groups to raise awareness about perceived problems with the nation’s nuclear policies.
In Taipei, environmental activists and residents from New Taipei City’s Jinshan (金山) and Wanli (萬里) districts took the stage as crowds flocked to Ketagalan Boulevard.
Responding to this year’s theme — to “bid farewell” to nuclear energy — many held banners or props bearing elegiac messages, such as “Nuclear Energy RIP” and signs bearing the Chinese character tien (奠), a common item displayed at traditional Taiwanese funerals, to mourn the deceased.
Although the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) has been shuttered since last year after construction was halted following a safety assessment, the plant’s maintenance fees amount to billions of New Taiwan dollars every year, and the government should therefore demolish the plant, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said.
With the Jinshan and Guoshen nuclear plants in New Taipei City’s Shihmen (石門) and Wanli districts respectively approaching retirement age, problems retrieving spent fuel rods during maintenance and storage pools at the Jinshan plant nearing capacity, the government must not extend the service life of the facilities, Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance chairperson Hsu Fu-hsiung (許富雄) said.
Wu Wen-chang (吳文樟), a Gongliao resident, accused state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) of plotting to start operations of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant by browbeating Taiwanese with a power shortage.
Photo: Ke Yu-hao, Taipei Times
He said that by simultaneously carrying out maintenance at a large number of coal-fired power plants, including the Taichung Power Plant, Taipower plans to throttle the nation’s surplus electricity supply from more than 20 percent to about 3 percent, forcing the public to accept the opening of the Gongliao plant.
Tao Aborigine and Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) resident Syamen Womzas said the government has yet to honor a promise it made 12 years ago to relocate nuclear waste stored in his hometown.
“The government stored nuclear waste on Lanyu through deception. The residents never agreed to the plan. It is very unfair to us who do not use nuclear energy. We hope that the government relocates the waste soon,” Syamen Womzas said.
Piho Yuhaw, an Atayal Aborigine from Yilan’s Nanao Township (南澳), said government authorities are conducting geological assessments to set up a deep geological repository on the border of Yilan and Hualien counties, near his home.
He said the government targeted land reserved for Aboriginal people whenever the storage of nuclear waste comes up, calling it an act of bullying minorities and a violation of the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民基本法), which stipulates that the government must not go against Aboriginal groups’ will to store harmful substances on their land.
He said that nuclear waste storage is an issue, but Taiwan must not overlook the larger picture, which is to abolish nuclear energy.
To demonstrate how alternative energy sources can be effectively utilized, Lee Yung-tsung (李永宗), a wind energy researcher based in Chiayi County, set up two stationary bicycles that collected kinetic energy from pedaling volunteers and stored it in a lead-acid battery that was used to power a coffee machine and cell phone charging ports.
“Hopefully, through this device, people will understand that electricity is difficult to come by, that even after exerting so much strength, the electricity generated can only power so few household applications,” Lee said.
In southern Taiwan, led by a religious procession, about 10,000 protesters marched through downtown Tainan, demanding a nuclear-free homeland.
A local antinuclear organization called for the government to recognize the public sentiment toward abolishing nuclear plants nationwide, adding that it is the citizens’ right and obligation to fight for a green homeland and the freedom from nuclear fear.
Protesters headed by educators and parents from nearby Yunlin County also joined the rally in Tainan, saying they are fighting for the well-being of their children.
Meanwhile, about 100 antinuclear protesters amassed at four major crossroads in downtown Taitung County, calling for the government to remove nuclear waste from the county.
Activists performed a skit in which they pretended to bury the four nuclear plants in Taiwan.
Antinuclear activist and aboriginal folk musician Nabu said that the county has the potential to develop renewable energy, and Taitung citizens are firm on their antinuclear stance.
In outlying island Penghu, an antinuclear rally was joined by several environmental groups and Penghu County Commissioner Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復).
Protesters on bikes gathered in front of Taipower’s office to stage a demonstration, saying that they want to put an end to nuclear power and demand an aggressive energy policy reform.
A series of antinuclear protests were sparked soon after the Ministry of Economic Affairs listed the county’s Wangan Township (望安) among its two preferred locations for storing low-radiation nuclear waste in 2009.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient