Nuke power in Taiwan? Thousands against it
TAIPEI, Taiwan - Thousands of Taiwanese marched through the capital Taipei Sunday, May 19, urging the government to halt construction of a nearly completed nuclear power plant, citing the Japanese atomic crisis.
The demonstrators chanted slogans like "No Nuke for Our Children" during the march which extended for miles as they evoked memories of the March 2011 Fukushima crisis sparked by an earthquake and tsunami.
Police estimates of the turnout were not immediately available while the organizers claimed 30,000 people took part. They said some protesters would hold an overnight sit-in outside parliament.
"The Fukushima accident told us that a nuclear power plant is very risky," Lee Chou-lan, spokesman for the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union which organised the event, told AFP.
Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In September 1999 a 7.6-magnitude quake killed around 2,400 people the deadliest natural disaster in the island's recent history.
"The government must immediately halt the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant. As various surveys show that nearly 70 percent of the people in Taiwan oppose the plant, there is no need for a referendum as guaranteed by the government," Lee said.
The controversial plant, in the coastal Kungliao district near Taipei, is about 90 percent completed and due to come on line in 2015, according to its operator the state-owned Taiwan Power Company (Taipower).
Construction began in 1999 but the plant has been the subject of intense political wrangling ever since.
In February Premier Jiang Yi-huah said for the first time that the government may support holding a referendum on its future amid growing public concern.
Taipower says the island will face power shortages without a new nuclear plant.
The three existing nuclear plants supply about 20 percent of Taiwan's electricity. But the first and second atomic plants and several other power stations are due to be shut down in the near future. - Rappler.com