Sun, Mar 15, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Crowds protest nuclear power across the nation

PEOPLE POWER:From Taipei to Tainan, all ranks of society expressed their shared desire for a nuclear-free homeland and advocated renewable energy technology

By Sean Lin and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter and staff writer

A woman dressed as the Pink Panther cartoon character carries a “No Nukes” sign and an inflatable globe in an annual antinuclear protest in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: EPA

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.

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.

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