Mon, Aug 30, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Protestors throng nuclear plant

NIGHTMARE SCENARIOAnti-nuclear protesters blocked the main gate of the facility, while one questioned the wisdom of putting nuclear plants where earthquakes strike

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Holding hands to form a human chain while chanting slogans, several hundred anti-nuclear power activists yesterday blocked off the main entrance to the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Taipei County’s Gongliao Township (貢寮), calling on the government to halt the plan to fill the reactors with uranium fuel in December and to stop using nuclear energy.

“No to uranium filling!” “No to restoration of nuclear power!” Hundreds of activists — Gongliao residents and non-residents alike — shouted as they formed a human chain in front of the plant.

Behind them was the half-closed gate heavily guarded by police.

Many employees trying to go in or out of the power plant were forced to use other entrances.

Despite the occurrence of at least five incidents — some that could have triggered serious disasters if there had been uranium fuel inside the reactors — at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant since test operations started in March, the government and Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) are set to begin uranium-filled test operations in December and start commercial operation in October next year.

Before demonstrators headed to block the entrance of the plant, they held a concert featuring several independent bands and opponents of nuclear energy in the square of the main temple in Aodi Village (澳底) not far from the power plant.

Although the organizers originally planned to march from the temple to the power plant after the concert, they later asked ­participants to “take a walk” to the power plant as police officers at the scene warned that an unauthorized march would be in violation of the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法).

“When we asked Taipower about the incidents — most of which were unknown to the public until exposed by the media later — they said everything was under control and those were ‘normal’ occurrences,” Taiwan Environmental Protection Union secretary-general Lee Cho-han (李卓翰) told demonstrators.

“I wonder if they will tell us everything is ‘normal’ when the nuclear power plant explodes?” he said.

Taiwan Homemakers’ Union chairwoman Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said: “More people started to support nuclear energy, saying it produces less carbon dioxide as global warming becomes a hot issue. While that’s true, I must remind everyone that nuclear energy is something that can cause immense destruction when something goes wrong,” he said.

Members from foreign organizations such as Greens Japan and Green Energy No Nukes in Asia Pacific also came to show support.

Noting that Taiwan and Japan have both experienced earthquakes that killed thousands of people, Greens Japan member Matsumoto Namiho said: “I cannot imagine how horrible it would be if a massive earthquake hit a nuclear power plant?”

“While we can’t stop earthquakes, we can stop nuclear power plants,” she added.

The blockade ended peacefully nearly an hour later when rain suddenly started to pour, sending both demonstrators and police running for cover.

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