On the eve of World Environment Day, environmental groups yesterday staged a demonstration urging the president to rethink the nation’s nuclear power policy.
The Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), together with 13 civic environmental groups and legislators, gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei with yellow banners that read: “I love Taiwan, not nuclear disasters.”
They said that World Environment Day was set up to remind people to pursue economic development and improvement in quality of life under the premise that the environment cannot be sacrificed.
The nation’s unchanged nuclear power policy is in contrast with the government’s promotion of World Environment Day, TEPU secretary-general Lee Cho-han (李卓翰) said, adding that nuclear power harms the environment and departs from the goals of sustainable development.
They protested against prolonging the life of the nation’s three operating nuclear power plants and the construction of a fourth plant. They also called for all nuclear power plants to be thoroughly re-evaluated and shut down immediately if they fail to pass safety inspections.
“According to the weekly journal Nature, Taiwan has two nuclear power plants with more than 3 million people living within a 30km radius ... and if a level-seven nuclear crisis were to happen in Taiwan, it would destroy the nation,” said Wang To-far (王塗發), an economics professor at National Taipei University.
Wang said that while Germany has decided to shut down all its nuclear plants by 2022 and other nations are reconsidering their nuclear policy, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should do the same.
Wild at Heart Legal Defense Foundation chairman Robin Winkler said the Ma administration was irresponsible, as it was afraid of offending businesses on World Environment Day.
If the government will not stand up to protect the people, then the people will have to find ways by themselves, he said.
Coinciding with World Environment Day, the Environmental Education Act (環境教育法) comes into force today.
The law, passed last year, obligates the central and local governments to set up environmental education funds and establish authentication systems for environmental education agencies, personnel and facilities.
Staff at government branches of all levels, including the president and the premier, and employees of state-run enterprises are required to take four hours of environmental protection classes each year.
People who disobey the law could be fined at least NT$5,000 or forced to shut down operations and take up to eight hours of environmental education lessons.
To celebrate World Environment Day, the Environmental Protection Administration is inviting the public to log on to its “EcoLife” Web site (http://ecolife.epa.gov.tw), which offers tips on how to save electricity, reduce carbon emissions and other information on environmental protection.
A series of activities promoting environmental awareness will also take place nationwide today, includes beach clean-ups, lectures, second-hand book sales, eco-friendly markets, as well as hiking in Miaoli County and a film display at the Wugu Wetland Ecological Park education center.
For details of the activities, visit the official Web sites of the local governments.