Tue, Dec 15, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Protesters back renewable energy

NO TO NUCLEAR POWER The demonstrators also protested a proposal to extend the operating life of the Jinshan nuclear power plant by 20 years

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTER

A group of children, led by representatives from environmental groups, roll a mock nuclear waste barrel toward the entrance of the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday during an anti-nuclear protest. The demonstrators urged the government to build a nuclear-free Taiwan.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Executive Yuan yesterday to urge the government to focus on the creation of renewable energy instead of relying on nuclear power.

The group, led by officials from the Green Party and the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), demanded the government scrap a proposal to extend the operating life of Jinshan (金山) nuclear power plant as well as plans to build a fourth plant.

“The government should stop pushing nuclear power under the guise of lowering carbon emissions. It is not an alternative for real sustainable energy sources,” Green Party spokesman Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said. “Nuclear power is a dying trend.”

Pan said that authorities have yet to achieve public consensus on the issue and he slammed the Ma government for ignoring public opinion and refusing to implement large-scale development for sustainable and clean alternative energies, such as solar, wind and tidal power.

“The public should be wary of recent media reports saying nuclear power is a lesser evil than global warming,” TEPU secretary-general Lee Cho-han (李卓翰) said.

Lee was referring to a Washington Post article last month that cited environmentalists, including former Greenpeace campaigner Steven Tindale, as saying that nuclear power was a necessary tool to combat emissions increases.

“It really is a question about the greater evil — nuclear waste or climate change,” Tindale was quoted as saying in the article.

“But there is no contest anymore. Climate change is the bigger threat, and nuclear is part of the answer,” he was quoted as saying.

Tindale had previously led Greenpeace protests against the construction of nuclear power plants in the UK.

Hong Kong-based Greenpeace representatives said Tindale made the comments after he had left the organization and the group was still firmly opposed to the development of nuclear power.

“Nuclear power is not the answer to global warming,” Greenpeace representative Chow Yuen-ping (周婉蘋) told the Taipei Times.

“[In Taiwan] as in other parts of the world, nuclear power is taking resources away from real solution — as a result, Greenpeace continues to oppose nuclear power,” Chow said.

Protestors chanting “We want our children to live in a nuclear- free world” and “Don’t nuke the environment,” were met by scores of police officers at the main entrance to the Executive Yuan.

The activists also highlighted concerns about the safety of state-owned Taipower’s proposal to extend the operating life of the Jinshan nuclear reactors by 20 years to 2038.

Atomic Energy Council officials have said the proposal was safe and similar extensions have been implemented in the US and Japan.

“The [Jinshan plant] is 100 percent safe — we do not foresee any problems in extending its operating life for another 20 years,” Department of Nuclear Regulation director Chen Yi-bin (陳宜彬) said.

Chen said his department expects to complete a safety analysis of the Jinshan extension proposal by July 2011.

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