Three months after the nuclear crisis began at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, environmental activists in Taiwan gathered at major train stations and in front of the legislature on the weekend to promote their vision of a nuclear-free Taiwan.
The series of rallies across the nation was organized by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), a civic group that has dedicated itself to opposing nuclear energy for more than a decade.
In spite of the high temperatures and afternoon thundershowers, activists, wearing straw hats and raincoats, stood in front of Taipei Railway Station to pray in silent tribute to the victims of the powerful earthquake and tsunami that stuck Japan on March 11, sparking a nuclear crisis.
“We [Taiwan] sit on earthquake faults, too, and Taipei is located within a 30km-radius area from the No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear power plants,” said Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉), a professor of atmospheric sciences at National Taiwan University.
“We are one of the most densely populated areas located near nuclear power plants. Where can we run to if an accident occurs?” she asked.
In front of Tainan Railway Station, people held posters that read: “Anti-Nuclear, Save Taiwan, Save Our Offspring” and “I love Taiwan, not nuclear disasters.”
Specialists and legislators also gave anti-nuclear speeches, distributed flyers to passersby and asked them to sign a petition to support the abolition of nuclear power.
In addition, a campaign by TEPU to collect photographs of people holding anti-nuclear posters at the nation’s 233 train stations continued yesterday, with the objective of forming a “Taiwan anti-nuclear map” on the Internet.
Last night, the Green Citizens’ Action Alliance (GCAA), another environmental organization, called for an emergency gathering in front of the legislature to protest the government’s plan to continue construction at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).
In addition to banners reading: “The people will not pay for it. The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant isn’t safe,” candles were lit on sidewalks for Japanese victims and to mark the launch of the vigil.
After GCAA representatives spoke about their concerns and demands, young people performed anti-nuclear songs they had composed.
The GCAA said the -construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, also known as the Longmen plant, was a patchwork by Taiwan Power Co, which has “deliberately altered the original design,” adding that it would be much more dangerous than the existing plants.
The GCAA said the government should, at the very minimum, stop all work at the plant and make a thorough safety inspection before it pushes the legislature to pass the budget, adding that the legislature, which exists to protect the interests of taxpayers, should protect them rather than put them at risk.
They called on legislators on both sides of the aisle to work together to eliminate the NT$14 billion (US$486.5 million) budget plan for the “dangerous” Longmen power plant.
The activists vowed to mobilize crowds and besiege the legislature this morning to urge for the budget to be canceled, while a review and negotiations on the project take place inside.