Wed, Mar 12, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Activists slam government inaction on nuclear safety

By Tang Chia-ling and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Children join adults dressed as cartoon characters at an event organized by the Democratic Progressive Party’s women’s section yesterday in Taipei to promote an anti-nuclear running event scheduled for March 29.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

Several anti-nuclear civic groups yesterday expressed disappointment over what they called the government’s continued disregard of public concerns over the safety of nuclear power as Japan marked the third anniversary of the worst nuclear accident in its history.

Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said the Japanese government had taken several steps to prevent the recurrence of such a catastrophe, including introducing a regulation that prohibits nuclear power plants from being built on top of active fault lines and separating the regulatory body from the administrative body in charge of promoting nuclear power in its Nuclear Regulation Authority.

“The first [Jinshan] and the second [Guosheng] nuclear power plants in New Taipei City are located only 7km and 5km respectively from the active Shanchiao fault (山腳斷層), yet our government has done nothing about that,” Tsuei said.

Alliance deputy secretary-general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) said the only aspect the government had tried to improve over the past three years was its skill at promoting nuclear power.

That was evidenced by the government’s efforts to purchase keywords from several search engines in August last year based on the names of prominent anti-nuclear activists to link to a pro-nuclear Web site run by the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Energy, and its screening at movie theaters nationwide a commercial trumpeting its plan for a gradual move toward a nuclear-free homeland, Hung said.

Anti-nuclear Alliance of Fathers executive director Kobe Chih (池國平) said that although the Atomic Energy Council and Taiwan Power Co had sought to improve the seismic capacity of the nation’s four nuclear power plants and increase the height of their tsunami-protective walls by 6m, those endeavors would only “cure the symptoms, not the disease.”

“There is no way we can forecast the severity of compounded disasters,” Chih said.

“If a nuclear accident were to occur at the first or the second nuclear power plant in winter, the strong northeast winds could blow radioactive dust more than 50km from the plants, and people living outside the current 30km evacuation zone could also be forced to leave their homes,” he said.

Chih said a high-ranking official working for the New Taipei City Government told him personally last year that he had had difficulty drawing up a workable plan to evacuate 6 million people within the evacuation zones of the two plants.

“The government is perfectly aware of the possibility of a nuclear disaster occurring in Taiwan, but it has chosen to bury its head in the sand rather than acknowledging and dealing head-on with its inability to evacuate people in the event of a nuclear disaster,” Chih said.

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