In Taiwan, Anti-Nuclear Protests Draw 200,000

By Leah E. Gallant - 11 Mar 2013 18:39:39 GMT
In Taiwan, Anti-Nuclear Protests Draw 200,000

Protests across Taiwan against nuclear power; Credit: © Leah E. Gallant

On Saturday, an estimated 200,000 people participated in protests across Taiwan to demand a total ban on nuclear power. With 100,000 in Taipei alone, this marks the largest anti-nuclear protest in the country's history.

"The government has to listen to the people," said Tina Wu, 79, expressing her hopes for the outcome of the march. "We don't want nuclear power."

Protesters called for shutting down Taiwan's three active nuclear power plants, as well as ceasing construction on its fourth. They also demanded the removal of nuclear waste from Orchid Island, an 18 sq. mile island off Taiwan's southern tip, where about 4000 indigenous Tao people live.

The three-hour march filled the streets of downtown Taipei with black and yellow visuals. Volunteers distributed sashes, stickers, and signs reading "Nuclear waste out of Orchid Island, no more nuclear energy." Some marchers wore hazmat suits; others wore skull masks. Tao men in traditional dress marched in formation at the front.

Since 1982, the state-owned energy company Taipower has used Orchid Island as a nuclear waste dump site. Activists point to a rise in cancer-related deaths as evidence that nuclear waste is contaminating the island. A November 2011 report found a leakage of radioactive elements into the surrounding area, but Taipower stated that they were well within safety levels.

Proponents of nuclear power assert that given enough security measures, it provides little to no risk. They also point to nuclear power's cost efficiency.

"It makes no sense," said Bolin Mei, 50, who attended the three-hour march in Taipei. "Money isn't the most important thing. "People are the most important."

Opponents of nuclear power cite the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster, in which an earthquake and tsunami severely damaged nuclear reactor in Eastern Japan. Upwards of 100,000 residents are still displaced, and it could take decades to clean up the plant.

"For us, anything to do with Japan stands for quality, so we were all shocked," Victor Wang recalled thinking. Mr. Wang is an organizer with Coalition of Young People for Lanyu Island, one of numerous groups represented in the march. "That made us wonder, will nuclear power ever be safe?"

Follow: Twitter / Facebook / Google+ / Pinterest

More Energy News / Back to the Homepage

Topics: Nuclear