Tens of thousands of people braved the rain yesterday afternoon to take part in nationwide demonstrations calling for an end to nuclear power plants in Taiwan.
The protests, staged three days ahead of the third anniversary of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in Japan, took place simultaneously in Taipei, Greater Taichung, Greater Kaohsiung and Taitung.
The National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform — the event’s organizer, an alliance of more than 100 civic groups — demanded that the government immediately halt construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) and remove nuclear waste from Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼).
The group asked lawmakers to cut the budget allocated for the new plant, pass a resolution calling for an end to nuclear power and amend the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to lower the referendum threshold.
In Taipei, a woman using a wheelchair held a handmade sign that read: “In a nuclear disaster, people in wheelchairs cannot escape,” while gender and gay rights advocacy groups held rainbow-colored signs that read: “We want orgasms, not nuclear waste” and “We may not have the same sexual preference, but we have the same anti-nuclear opinion.”
Dozens of young people danced to loud electronic dance music as they paraded while shouting: “My electro music does not want to use electricity generated by nuclear energy; my party does not fear oppressive authority.”
Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times
“How can I not stand up today,” said a 76-year-old fisherman surnamed Lu (盧) from New Taipei City’s Jinshan (金山), adding that he has lived in Jinshan all his life, with his home only about 5km from the plant, between two operating nuclear power plants.
“I didn’t know there were so many spent fuel rods in the plants until we had the chance to visit one of them, and I became worried, because the spent fuel pools are almost full. Will they take the fuel rods out of the water?” Lu said. “We have nowhere to run to if a disaster occurs and Taipei will be in danger.”
A highlight of the parade yesterday took place at the intersection of Zhongxiao W Road and Zhongshan S Road, where a group of residents living near nuclear facilities, young people, artists and civic groups stopped traffic by lying or sitting down on the road, as a fake nuclear accident siren sounded.
Photo: Hsu Kuo-chen, Taipei Times
The action prompted police intervention.
Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said that since the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, annual anti-nuclear parades in Taiwan held in 2011, 2012 and last year all showed that most of the public are against nuclear power.
“The government is still stubbornly ignoring public opinion. When it wanted to push nuclear power, it said the policy was already decided and it was only acting according to the law, so people living near the facilities had no right to refuse. Now the government is using our tax money to threaten and lie to us, when it should communicate with the public and let us decide,” she said.
Tsuei said this year will be the beginning of a “citizens won’t cooperate” movement, which would make an oppressive government understand that “Taiwan doesn’t want nuclear power, the people can decide their own future.”
According to the event’s organizers, the Taipei protest drew more than 80,000 people, while other rallies held simultaneously across the country had a combined turnout of more than 50,000.
The nation has three active nuclear power plants that generate about 20 percent of its electricity.
The state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) yesterday said that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant will meet the highest safety standards before beginning operations.
Taipower vice president Chen Pu-tsan (陳布燦) said a safety review of the plant’s 126 systems is expected to be completed by the end of June, after which a report will be submitted to the Atomic Energy Council for review.
Chen stressed that passing safety inspections is just one of 75 requirements that the power plant needs to meet before fuel rods can be installed in its No. 1 reactor.
Additional reporting by AFP and CNA
TAIWAN PROTECTION MEASURE: US Army General Charles Flynn would not say where in the Asia-Pacific the missiles would be sent, but only that they would arrive in 2024 The US is to send medium-range missiles including the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) and Tomahawk to the Asia-Pacific next year to deter a Chinese attack on Taiwan, US military news Web site Defense One reported. The report cited comments US Army General Charles Flynn made during the annual Halifax International Security Forum on Nov. 19. “We have tested them and we have a battery or two of them today,” Flynn was quoted as saying. “In 24. We intend to deploy that system in your region. I’m not going to say where and when. But I will just say that we will
LOYALTY: The 10 active and retired soldiers betrayed the nation and its people by leaking and passing on military secrets to China, the High Prosecutors’ Office said Ten former and current military officers were yesterday indicted on charges of spying for China, including two who allegedly filmed themselves pledging loyalty to Beijing. The High Prosecutors’ Office requested life imprisonment for the suspects in light of the severity of the crime. The 10 active-duty and retired officers included members of the 601st Brigade of the Aviation Special Forces comprising attack helicopter squadrons and elite combat units in charge of defending northern Taiwan, including Taipei. The other suspects came from Huadong Defense Command, in charge of defending the eastern coast; Kinmen Defense Command, in charge of defending Kinmen and Matsu; and one
NO FREE LUNCH: Taiwanese joining the trips to China met TAO and United Front Work officials who urged them to vote for candidates who support closer ties with Beijing The Ciaotou Prosecutors’ Office in Kaohsiung yesterday released two suspects on bail who have been accused of recruiting Taiwanese to join tours to China funded by Beijing and in which they were urged to vote for pan-blue candidates in January’s presidential and legislative elections. The pan-blue camp generally refers to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the People First Party, the New Party and the Young China Party, which support closer relations with China. Prosecutors said that a man, surnamed Cheng (鄭), and a woman, surnamed Yeh (葉), who are members of the China Pan-Blue Association, recruited Taiwanese tourists to join tours arranged
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday slammed a proposal by New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, to permit a “significant number” of Chinese students to study and work in Taiwan, saying it would be detrimental to young Taiwanese. At an event on Monday hosted by nine major industrial and business groups, Hou said that if elected, he would reinitiate cross-strait dialogue on the premise that Taiwan’s dignity would not be compromised and that the talks would be held in good faith. The talks would include lifting a ban on Chinese tour groups and