Several civic groups yesterday rallied outside the legislature, urging lawmakers not to agree to a proposal to restart operations at a nuclear power plant in New Taipei City (新北市) amid concerns that its operations would threaten the lives of millions of people in the Taipei metropolitan area.
“Stop the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant! Stop the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant!” dozens of people representing 16 civic groups chanted as they rallied outside the legislature in the afternoon before a meeting on the proposal was scheduled to take place.
The groups included the Green Citizens’ Action Alliance (GCAA), Raging Citizens Act Now, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union and the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Foundation.
Although only a few dozen people were there, they took with them a petition with more than 8,000 signatures, asking lawmakers not to allow the nuclear power plant to resume operations.
Operations at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) were suspended for mechanical inspections in March. However, an earthquake occurred at the time, causing seven of 120 screw bolts on the reactor to break, raising concerns among the public about whether the nuclear facility is safe.
“What happened at the nuclear power plant was very serious because this is the first case in the world where screw bolts on a nuclear reactor have broken,” GCAA deputy secretary-general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) told the crowd. “If something as safe as screw bolts can break under Taiwan Power Co’s [Taipower] watch, how can we trust Tai-power to keep the plant’s operations safe?”
Hung added that it was especially scary since a high-ranking member of the Taipower management team was found to be cheating during safety inspections at nuclear power facilities.
“It would be better if the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant remains shut,” Hung said.
Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅), an attorney affiliated with Wild at Heart, reminded lawmakers and the public of the consequences if a nuclear disaster like the one that occurred at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan last year happened at the Guosheng plant.
“When the nuclear disaster happened at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, people living within a 30km radius of the plant were evacuated,” Tsai said. “If that happens at the Guosheng plant, the 30km radius evacuation zone would cover most of the Taipei metropolitan area with 5.8 million residents.”
She said that Taipower has been caught several times hiding information when problems occurred at nuclear power plants.
“We don’t trust it anymore. The Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant should not be allowed to resume operations,” Tsai added.
In addition to calling on the legislature to stop the nuclear power plant from resuming operations, the groups called on the central government and Taipower to be more transparent when it comes to nuclear safety issues.