Sun, May 24, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Tribes protest nuclear waste plan

CONTAMINATED The chief of Daren Township welcomed the proposal to build a nuclear waste facility because of the NT$5 billion in promised compensation

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Aborigines of the Paiwan tribe protest against the planned storage of nuclear waste at the Nantian tribal area in Taitung County’s Daren Township.


Led by a royal descendant of an ancient line of Aboriginal Paiwan kings, residents and environmentalists yesterday staged a parade in Daren Township (達仁), Taitung County, to protest Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) plan to build a storage facility for nuclear waste there.

Taipower announced in March that Daren Township and Wangan Township (望安), Penghu County, were the two candidate sites for the nuclear waste dumping ground.

Opposed to the plan, more than 100 Paiwan and Puyuma Aborigines and environmentalists rallied outside a local elementary school yesterday morning, where they were blessed by Paiwan elders in a traditional ritual before they departed. The demonstrators then carried a cross on a two-hour march to the site selected for the facility.

After arriving at the site, the demonstrators erected the cross and made a smoke signal to inform their ancestral spirits of their determination to defend their ancestral homeland.

While officials and residents in Wangan have already voiced strong opposition to the proposal, Daren Township chief Chang Chin-sheng (張金生) and some residents welcomed the idea of building a nuclear waste site, saying the promised NT$5 billion (US$153 million) in compensation would help develop Daren.

The final decision has not been made.

“Lanyu Township [蘭嶼] in Taitung County has already been storing nuclear waste from around the country for more than 20 years. How can Taiwan Power Co and the Ministry of Economic Affairs continue to force us to take this highly contaminating and dangerous nuclear waste?” asked Lai Chin-feng (賴金風), convener of the Daren Alliance Against Nuclear Waste, adding that the township chief did not represent all Daren Township and Taitung County residents, nor did he represent all of the Paiwan tribe.

“This region has long been a traditional domain of the Tacupul Kingdom, and it’s the job of all descendants of Tacupul to defend it,” said Sauljaljuy Ruvaniyaw, a member of the Ruvaniyaw family — the royal family of the Tacupul Kingdom that ruled in Daren and its neighboring areas hundreds of years ago.

“This is our home and our country — you have no right to invade it and have no right to ask me why we don’t want nuclear waste here,” Ruvaniyaw said. “Just like a robber has no right to ask why the owner of the house won’t leave.”

“The grandparents of my grandparents lived here, they hunted here, they gathered food here, they fished here and they farmed here. That’s what the grandchildren of my grandchildren will do here, too,” she said. “I am Sauljaljuy Ruvaniyaw, the ruler of the Paiwan Kingdom of Tacupul.”

The rally and the march are only the beginning of the mobilization against the nuclear waste dumping ground, Ruvaniyaw said.

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