More than 200 residents of Taitung County yesterday protested against a project to build the nation's first permanent repository for low-level radioactive waste in the county's Tawu (大武) township.
Gathering in front of the county council building yesterday morning, demonstrators handed over a petition that had been signed by more than 1,000 anti-nuclear residents, urging the council to prevent radioactive waste from being stored in Taitung.
According to demonstrators, the responsibility of solving existing radioactive waste problems should be shared fairly by the entire population instead of only Taitung residents.
"We are against the storage of nuclear waste in Taitung," demonstrators shouted.
In addition, the demonstrators said, they did not want to sacrifice the environment just to be compensated for the project.
Council Speaker Wu Chun-li (
Wu said that the council turned down Taipower's invitation last month to join a field trip to facilities dealing with nuclear waste management in eastern and northern Europe.
"By doing so, we hope to underline the council's firm stance against the project to dump nuclear waste in Taitung," Wu said.
Hundreds of demonstrators protested later in front of the Taitung County Government building, urging Taitung County Magistrate Hsu Ching-yuan (
Hsu was not in the building at the time.
Residents said they suspected that several groups could be profiting from supporting the project.
Hsu said last week, when he returned from a field trip to Japan to inspect related facilities, that Taitung will not "shirk its social responsibility," if no other places in Taiwan are willing to accommodate radioactive waste.
Last month, President Chen Shui-bian (
Nearly 100,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, hospitals and research institutes are stored on the island.
At that time, Hsu said that the county would accept the waste as long as nuclear safety, sound compensation and an agreement from the area's residents could be ensured.
According to Taipower, the project remains uncertain. A location would not be picked until a draft law is passed.
The law is in draft format, outlining regulations on choosing the site of final repositories for low-level radioactive waste.