About 10,000 protesters nationwide are expected to take to the streets today — the first anniversary of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami disaster — to demand that the government scrap plans for ongoing nuclear plant construction.
Organizers said yesterday that the “Bidding Farewell to Nuclear Power Parade” is being held to commemorate the tragedy of the magnitude 9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that caused the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to fail, plunging Japan into the worst nuclear crisis in its history.
Amid global concerns over nuclear safety, the parade will also build on local momentum created at April’s successful “Sunflower No Nuke Action,” in which more than 16,000 people across Taiwan participated.
“We want the world to never forget the hard lessons it has learned,” said Tsui Su-hsin (崔傃欣), a spokeswoman for the organizers.
According to Tsui, the protests are scheduled to take place in Taipei, Greater Taichung and Greater Kaohsiung, where about 100 civic groups will urge the government to decommission the existing three nuclear power plants as soon as possible and stop construction of the fourth nuclear plant in Wanli (萬里), New Taipei City (新北市).
Protesters will also call on the government to implement energy-saving policies and remove the radioactive nuclear waste stored on Lanyu (蘭嶼, also known as Orchid Island) off the coast of southeastern Taiwan, she said.
The planned simultaneous protests suggest that the state-run Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) safety checks do not seem good enough to quell the unease among members of the public.
The company said on Friday it had finished a comprehensive safety assessment of the country’s four nuclear power plants, with some machines and areas which were not due to be checked having been examined as well.
“With the approach of the first anniversary of the Japanese nuclear crisis, we’d like to assure the public that our plants are safe,” said Tsai Fuh-feng, director of Taipower’s Department of Nuclear Generation.
Besides regular checks, the three operating nuclear power plants and the one under construction all passed stress tests, which are required in European countries, he said.
Although there are still some parts of the plants that need reinforcement, Tsai said all the plants are “safe enough to counter a devastating disaster similar to the one that happened in Japan.”
After the March 11 incident in Japan last year, Taipower reviewed its safety procedures and came up with an “ultimate response guideline” specially tailored for Taiwan, to cope with similar compound disasters, Tsai said.
Following the guideline, the company can respond immediately and take critical action within an hour after a disaster, he added.
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