News / Asia

Anti-Nuclear Energy Activists Becoming More Vocal in Taiwan

Protesters march during an anti-nuclear demonstration in Taipei, Taiwan on March 9, 2013.
Protesters march during an anti-nuclear demonstration in Taipei, Taiwan on March 9, 2013.
Ralph Jennings
A wave of mass street protests in Taiwan has prompted the island’s government to reconsider a fourth nuclear power plant. Demonstrators at concerts and elsewhere this past weekend said the plant would threaten inhabitants of Taiwan’s north coast.

About 220,000 people turned out for loud, emotional demonstrations in Taiwan’s three biggest cities to ask that the government stop plans for the island's fourth nuclear power plant. They were the largest protests since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008. 

Safety concerns

The demonstrators said they are worried a catastrophe similar to Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown two years ago could occur on the island.

Lee Yi-chun, a 40-year-old software engineer from Taipei, says she joined a demonstration on Saturday because she fears a nuclear accident.

She says the first issue is consideration of a disaster much like that in Japan.  She says the Japanese plant had gone through a rigorous inspection and its management was not bad, but that does not mean an earthquake or tsunami will not cause damage or suddenly cut electricity to the plant, leading to a meltdown.

Taiwan's fourth nuclear plant has already felt its share of shocks. Government-run Taiwan Power Company started work on it in 1999.  The semi-official Central News Agency says it has spent about $9.3 billion on construction. In 2000, public opinion led Taiwan’s government to halt work on the power station, which is near one of northern Taiwan’s most popular beaches. But the legislature ordered the project to resume a year later. Ma’s government had tentatively planned to start operations last year.

Economic need

Taiwan has few of its own fossil fuel sources and hopes nuclear power will reduce dependency on sometimes costly imports. There have been no nuclear accidents in Taiwan and the power company has pledged that the fourth plant will be safe. Nuclear energy contributes 12 percent to the island’s total power generation capacity.

Lin Hung-chih, deputy secretary-general of the ruling Nationalist Party’s Central Policy Committee, says Taiwan cannot afford to hold back on nuclear power, especially for industrial use, as long as the island lacks other energy sources. He wants Taiwan to join France, South Korea and other countries that rely heavily on nuclear power.

He says that, without nuclear safety, there would be no fourth nuclear plant.  He questions what the island will use to replace the energy that would be provided by the fourth plant.

Protesters becoming more vocal

Taiwan’s protests against nuclear power were muted, before the Japan earthquake of 2011. When the first three nuclear plants began coming online in the 1970s, citizens accepted them as part of Taiwan’s fast economic development. Today, two plants operate alongside public beaches, attracting thousands of tourists.

But the Japan meltdown raised the intensity of anti-nuclear protests and environmental activism in Taiwan.

Taiwanese officials who face tough elections every two to four years have studied the idea of converting the fourth nuclear plant to a thermal one but say that shift would cost another $3 billion. The Taiwanese news agency says today’s cost already exceeds earlier estimates, because of suspected corruption, budget inflation and challenges by environmental groups. 

New Taipei City, where the plant is based, is urging people to speak out and the central government to listen. Last month, the government suggested putting the fourth nuclear plant to a popular vote.

Anti-nuclear activists plan to use weekend protest momentum to collect signatures for the referendum. Meanwhile, the government is trying to convince the public of the nuclear plant’s safety.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: G.R.L. Cowan from: Canada
March 14, 2013 10:39 AM
Government-bought astroturf. Even with that big of a paymaster, not enough sellouts could be found for the camera to be able to pull back.


by: Vicky Chung
March 13, 2013 8:33 PM
Taiwan is not only an island, it is a country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid