Nearly 59 percent of people polled in April by Taiwan’s Commonwealth magazine, a politics and economics publication, said they wanted the fourth nuclear power plant stopped because they fear a disaster akin to Japan’s 2011 Fukushima earthquake and reactor meltdown. Like Japan, Taiwan sits in a highly seismic area.
Taiwan’s Nuclear Future and Authoritarian Past The intense debate in Taiwan over nuclear power has echoes of a less democratic past. The Diplomat, By Brent Crane May 21, 2014 Last August, chaos erupted in Taiwanese parliament. Opposing lawmakers thrust hard-clenched fists at one another while fervent activists tossed opened water-bottles from the stands like Molotov cocktails. Politicians and otherwise civilized men wrestled like teenage boys on the floor amid shouts, screams and camera flashes.
The Legislative Yuan had initially assembled to discuss the conditions of a national referendum deciding the fate of Taiwan’s fourth nuclear power plant in Gongliao, New Taipei City. The controversial plant, known ominously throughout the country as Nuke 4, remains a rallying cry for opponents of one of Taiwan’s most charged political subjects: nuclear power. The debate has been energized in recent weeks after former opposition party leader and staunch nuclear energy opponent Lin Yi-hsiung went on hunger-strike in protest of the government’s unwillingness to make concessions with Taiwan’s antinuclear lobby. On the surface, the conflict appears rather black-and-white: it’s the safety-conscious, environmentalists and academics versus the pragmatic economists and government bureaucrats. But the nuclear power debate in Taiwan is about much more than just safety and economics. It’s about reconciling Taiwan’s autocratic past with its democratic present……….
On the Taiwanese political front today, only reunification is as hotly debated as nuclear energy. The antinuclear camp, which polls suggest finds support from up to 70 percent of the 23 million Taiwanese, advocates full denuclearization of the island. Simply put, their biggest beef with nuclear power in Taiwan is that it poses too great a safety risk. The disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011 represents the type of nightmare scenario that antinuclear activists conjure up when they denounce the energy source. After all, Taiwan is highly prone to typhoons, tsunamis and earthquakes. In late September 1999, for instance, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake killed 2,415 people in central Taiwan, injuring more then 11,000. Last September, Typhoon Usagi left Taiwan with 35 dead and with more than $4.33 billion in damages. The list goes on. And Taiwan’s compact size ensures that any plant destruction or malfunction on the scale of the Fukushima fiasco would be disastrous for the island, whose densely packed urban centers are never too far from any of the country’s four plants.
Yet despite the risks, the ruling KMT party remains firmly pro-nuclear, and has proven resilient in weathering the antinuclear storm. ……In true Jeffersonian fashion, the electorate, though hollering at an often unresponsive government, are demanding that their voices be heard. And with the ebb and flow of the youth-led Sunflower Movement, a government accountability project akin to Occupy Wall Street, Taiwan’s political atmosphere has been particularly energized lately………
Opposition to Nuke 4 has galvanized tens of thousands of Taiwanese to hold demonstrations throughout the country in recent years. Clearly, the anti-nuclear camp is no longer a fringe element. On the contrary, opposition to nuclear power has become a household inclination, with some studies showing 55 percent to 70 percent of the population anti-nuclear………
Of course, shifting an entire country from autocracy to democracy is no easy task. But Taiwan’s nuclear energy debate is a reminder that its transition isn’t yet wholly complete. http://thediplomat.com/2014/05/taiwans-nuclear-future-and-authoritarian-past/
the only sane thing is to stop making the stuff
Taiwan in talks with China, France for nuclear waste deals Global Post 12 May 14, Taiwan has been talking with China and France over the possibility of managing the island’s radioactive nuclear waste, Taiwanese officials said Monday.
Hwang Jung-chiou, chairman of the state-owned electric power utility Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), told Kyodo News that they have been in contact with France with the intention of sending shiploads of spent fuel rods there for reprocessing, adding that Taiwan has obtained consent from the United States. A civil nuclear agreement between Taiwan and the United States, renewed in December last year, allows the transfer of nuclear waste from Taiwan to France and other countries or destinations agreed upon by Taipei and Washington for storage and reprocessing.
Hwang made the remarks after the construction of an interim dry storage facility for spent fuel rods his company plans to build in New Taipei City hit a snag.
The water pools at the First Nuclear Power Plant in Chinshan, 41 kilometers away from the capital Taipei, are nearing full capacity.
Taipower is building an above-ground facility at the reactor site for storing the used fuel before a deep geological disposal site is available.
Taipower’s plan is to begin building the final repository in 2044 and commence operation in 2055.
However, local opposition to the interim facility has forced the New Taipei City government to hold off from giving a green light to the proposal……..
Apart from talking with France on reprocessing high-level radioactive waste, Hwang said they are also talking with China over the possibility of disposing low-level nuclear waste there.
Taipower began to ship low-level radioactive nuclear waste to an underground storage site on Orchid Island off Taiwan’s southeastern coast three years after Taiwan’s first nuclear power plant came online in 1979.
Over 97,000 barrels of such waste were shipped to the island, which is home to some 4,000 Tao Aboriginal people, before they began to disintegrate in 1992, leading to efforts to replace the eroded containers with new ones beginning in 1996.
While Orchid Island is a temporary disposal facility, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has announced that Wuciou Island in the Kinmen archipelago, near the coast of mainland China, and Daren Township of Taitung County in eastern Taiwan have been chosen as possible sites of permanent storage.
However, strong opposition has made the two local governments reluctant to hold regional referendums on the issue. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140512/taiwan-talks-china-france-nuclear-waste-deals
Officials downplay nuclear plant flaws GLOSSING OVER FAULTS:A ‘Liberty Times’ report said a Taipower employee alleged that a report on the safety of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant omitted the plant’s flaws Taipei Times By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter, with CNA 12 May 14, Officials yesterday sought to play down leaked test results indicating possible flaws in a containment structure of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, saying the problem will be fixed as part of ongoing tests and inspections.
Taiwan Power Co (Tai-power, 台電) chairman Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) said that finding and sealing leaks in the primary containment structure of the plant’s first reactor were normal steps in safety inspection procedures.
Hwang said similar leaks were discovered during inspections carried out on the nation’s first, second and third nuclear power plants, all of which are operated by the state-run Taipower.
The company is also responsible for the nearly completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮).
Answering questions at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee, Atomic Energy Council (AEC) Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) said the council would strictly review Taipower’s safety reports on the plant to ensure the leakage rates of the reactor containment building are within safety standards.
Tsai’s remarks came in response to a report by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) yesterday which said it received an anonymous report from a person who identified himself as a worker at the plant saying that during the integrated leak rate test (ILRT) and structure integral test (SIT) conducted at the plant’s No. 1 reactor from Feb. 26 through March 5, leakage rates were found to be too high.
The company had reported them as normal.
Meanwhile, outside the committee meeting room, Green Citizen Action Alliance deputy secretary-general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) criticized Taipower for claiming that the structure had no problems in its publicized safety test report on its Web site last month.
He alleged that the company only reported the good parts, but not flaws, which he said should be considered lying to the public…….http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2014/05/13/2003590217
China nuclear plants a threat to Taiwan: NSB chief By Joseph Yeh, The China Post May 6, 2014, TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan is at risk of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents as more than a dozen nuclear power plants are located along coastal areas of the Chinese mainland, National Security Bureau (NSB, 國安局) head Tsai De-sheng (蔡得勝) said yesterday……As the island of Taiwan is located close to the Chinese mainland, the NSB head said Taiwan is at high risk of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents if an incident similar to Japan’s Fukushima incident in 2011 occurs on the other side of the Taiwan Strait……
Once a nuclear disaster or radioactive incident occurs, Tsai said, the NSB will escort national leaders and senior Cabinet members to a safe house as soon as possible. An annual drill has focused on having national heads evacuate in case of emergency, he added.
Tsai made the comments in response to lawmakers’ questions on the government’s nuclear disaster response measures during the Legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting yesterday.
Speaking during the same session, Defense Minister Yen Ming (嚴明) said the military will immediately relocate important military facilities and installations once a nuclear accident happens.http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2014/05/06/407029/China-nuclear.htm
Hunger Striker Ends Fast, but Not Fight, Against Nuclear Power in Taiwan NYT, By AUSTIN RAMZY MAY 1, 2014, A former head of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party has announced that he is ending his hunger strike, but not his campaign, against nuclear power on the island.
The former leader, Lin Yi-hsiung, 72, began his protest on April 22, and it drew attention from Taiwan’s leaders and from protesters, who converged on central Taipei in recent days to say they were inspired by Mr. Lin’s sacrifice.
In announcing the end of his fast on Wednesday, Mr. Lin thanked protesters for their recent campaign against nuclear power.
“Over the past half month, the people of Taiwan’s outstanding display has been unprecedented, which leaves one feeling moved, full of admiration and deeply appreciative,” he wrote in a blog post.
On Monday, the government announced that it was halting work on the Lungmen nuclear power plant in northeast Taiwan, about 20 miles outside Taipei, pending a referendum on its future. The project, known as No. 4, was started more than a decade ago and has cost more than $9 billion………
The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan has raised concerns among many people in Taiwan about the safety of nuclear power, particularly with a plant that is near the ocean and the island’s largest urban area.
After Sunday’s demonstration, which the police estimated drew 28,500 people and organizers say had as many as 50,000, a smaller number of protesters converged on a main street near Taipei’s main train station. They were forcibly removed by the police using water cannons.
With the halt to construction on the plant and the end of Mr. Lin’s hunger strike, the momentum for antinuclear demonstrations has ebbed somewhat. But smaller protests have continued outside the legislature building this week, and Mr. Lin has called on his supporters to continue pushing for the shutdown of Taiwan’s three other nuclear power plants.
“If work on No. 4 doesn’t resume, it’s no longer an issue,” he wrote. “Nuclear opponents should take a step forward to ensuring the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 nuclear power plants are closed on schedule.” http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/hunger-striker-ends-fast-but-not-fight-against-nuclear-power-in-taiwan/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
Taiwan uses water cannon to disperse anti-nuclear protesters The West Australian, 28 April 14, Taipei (AFP) - Taiwan police on Monday used water cannon to dislodge hundreds of demonstrators blocking a main road in the capital to demand the scrapping of a controversial nuclear power plant.
An estimated 28,500 anti-nuclear demonstrators had blockaded one of Taipei’s busiest streets Sunday, forcing the ruling Kuomintang party to yield and halt construction work at the nearly completed plant.
The concession prompted many demonstrators to leave but hundreds remained, causing police to use water cannon to disperse them on Monday morning…….
A Kuomintang spokesman announced Sunday there would be no further work on this reactor. After safety checks, it would be sealed.
“Construction of reactor two will be terminated,” the spokesman said. “In the future, any such commercial operation will be decided by a referendum.”
The government has already offered to hold a referendum on the future of the power plant, but opponents say the vote’s proposed terms would be too restrictive.
Protest organisers said they would keep watching to see if the government fulfils its promises……..
Like Japan, Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes. In September 1999 a 7.6-magnitude quake killed around 2,400 people in the island’s deadliest natural disaster in recent history……https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/world/a/23032473/taiwan-uses-water-cannon-to-disperse-anti-nuclear-protesters/
Taiwan to halt construction at fourth nuclear power plant The Taiwan government will halt construction at the island’s fourth nuclear power plant as local opposition to atomic energy continues to mount. Australia Network News 28 April 14
President Ma Ying-jeou’s Kuomintang party says a decision has been made to seal off the plant’s first reactor after the completion of safety checks.
And construction of the second reactor will be halted immediately.
The move is the latest sign of pressure on Mr Ma’s administration from opposition parties and anti-nuclear activists, who are concerned about the safety of such facilities in earthquake-prone regions of Taiwan following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Taipei over the weekend, urging the government to abandon nuclear energy……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-28/an-taiwan-nuclear-protest/5414294
Academics take to the streets against nuclear generation, Taipei Times, 25 April 14 By Loa Iok-sin / Staff reporter About 100 academics yesterday staged a silent march from Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building to Gikong Presbyterian
Church, where former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Lin Yi-xiong (林義雄) has been on a hunger strike since Tuesday, to urge the government to give up nuclear energy.
“Nuclear power is the most negative product of capitalism and imperialism, it’s a disaster for the disadvantaged,” said Cheng Fei-wen (鄭斐文), an associate professor of sociology at Tung Hai University. “When nuclear disaster occurs, it is the poor, the aged and children who will suffer the most. Even today, the Tao people on Orchid Island still suffer from nuclear waste storage,” he added.
National Chung Cheng University professor Chen Ruey-lin (陳瑞麟) said Taiwan was located in the so-called “Ring of Fire,” where frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean.
“I don’t think Taiwan is qualified to use nuclear energy,” he added…………
Taiwan Association of University Professors president Lu Chung-chin (呂忠津), who teaches electrical engineering at National Tsing Hua University, said the government should not continue to threaten the public by saying that there may be a power shortage without the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
“It would be better if the government could use this critical time to develop a green energy system for our future,” he said.
The group marched in silence to the church after tying yellow ribbons with the slogan: “Stop the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant; return the power to the people” on police barricades that barred them from getting close to the Presidential Office Building…….http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2014/04/26/2003588934
In Taiwan, an Anti-Nuclear Activist With Unusual Pull WSJ China Real Time, 23 April 14 Jenny W. Hsu.A high-profile Taiwanese anti-nuclear activist began a hunger strike on Tuesday to protest construction of the island’s fourth nuclear power plant, in what could become another challenge for the already beleaguered President Ma Ying-jeou.
Lin Yi-xiong, the former chairman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and a longtime anti-nuclear activist, vowed to sustain on only water until the government suspends construction of the northern Taipei plant.
Less than 24 hours after Mr. Lin began his strike, both Mr. Ma and Premier Jiang Yi-hua tried to visit him, only to be turned away. Hunger strikes aren’t uncommon in the oft-fractious island, but Mr. Lin is the first striker who has received personal attention from the president and the cabinet leader…….
Analysts say that given his clout and the public’s already-ballooning opposition to nuclear power, Mr. Ma’s ruling Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, would face more arduous battles ahead of local elections later this year if Mr. Lin dies as a result of his hunger strike.
Mr. Ma—whose approval rating is currently 14%, according to a poll by Taiwan Indicator Survey Research—relied on his accommodative China policies to win re-election in 2012. But these same policies have also become his Achilles heels recently, with more people questioning whether the warmer trade ties with China have benefited Taiwan’s average workers……At 73, Mr. Lin is regarded across party lines as one of the most influential political figures in Taiwan since the 1970s. As a dissident, he was jailed multiple times during the island’s martial law era (1949-87).
In 1980, while Mr. Lin was imprisoned as a dissident, his mother and his seven-year old twin daughters were found stabbed to death in the basement of their home. His oldest daughter survived the attack with severe injuries. The case remain unsolved, and the house, which has been turned into a church, is where Mr. Lin is staging his fast…….Other anti-nuclear activists plan to join Mr. Lin in protest by staging a demonstration in front the Presidential Office on Saturday.http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/04/23/in-taiwan-an-anti-nuclear-activist-with-unusual-pull/
Taiwan anti-nuclear activist starts hunger strike The West Australian, Taipei (AFP) 22 April 14 - Former Taiwanese opposition leader and anti-nuclear activist Lin Yi-hsiung Tuesday launched an indefinite hunger strike in protest at a nearly completed nuclear facility, while some of his supporters clashed with police.”It’s very meaningful to be doing something good for Taiwan — I feel very calm,” Lin told a crowd of reporters and supporters before he began the hunger strike.
He added he had been forced into the situation because the authorities had ignored public opinion on nuclear power. He said the majority of people in Taiwan were against a fourth nuclear power plant.
Lin, who led the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) from 1998-2000, has devoted himself to battling the island’s nuclear power policy in the past two decades.
“If anything unfortunate should happen to me, I want my family and friends to know that (those in power) murdered me,” the 72-year-old said before entering a church in Taipei to begin his indefinite fasting.
Outside parliament, dozens of protesters briefly clashed with the police as they attempted to surround the building in a show of support for Lin. They unfurled a large yellow banner reading “Salute chairman Lin Yi-hsiung, stop building fourth nuclear (plant)”, and held placards calling for the project to be terminated.
“If Lin Yi-hsiung loses his life, it is the evil government who have caused it,” said the group’s leader Tsai Ting-kuei………
Premier, DPP head fail to reach consensus over nuclear plant, Focus Taiwan Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah and the leader of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) failed to reach a consensus on the future of the controversial fourth nuclear power plant during a meeting Monday.
The premier said he could not unilaterally announce the halt of the construction of the plant, and the two disagreed on whether a referendum on the project should follow the threshold set in Taiwan’s Referendum Act or use another formula.
Jiang supported maintaining the law’s requirement of a 50 percent turnout for a referendum to be valid, while DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang favored dropping the turnout threshold and having the vote decided by a simple majority.
During the nearly 90-minute meeting, Su expressed the hope that the Executive Yuan would stop the plant’s construction by issuing an executive order……..http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201404210044.aspx
Taiwan returns radiation-contaminated containers to Japan Global Post 28 Aug 13 Fifteen radiation-contaminated containers from Japan have been sent back since Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011, Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council told Kyodo News on Wednesday.
The council said once a container is detected contaminated with radiation at Kaohsiung port, the importer is given a choice to either clean the container if it wishes to see the container enter Taiwan or not clean the container, which will then be sent back to where it came.
The Liberty Times reported in its Wednesday issue that Kaohsiung Customs has detected 226 containers contaminated with radiation coming from or routed through Japan since March 2011.
Kaohsiung Customs are the island’s only seaport equipped with radiation detection monitors that screen more than 95 percent of all container traffic…… http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/130828/taiwan-returns-radiation-contaminated-containers-japan
Taiwanese Government Alters Search Results to Favor Nuclear Energy Policy Global Voices Advocacy, by Oiwan Lam 14 August 2013 For several months, activists in Taiwan fighting to prevent the launch of operations at a nuclear plant they argue would be hazardous for public health and the natural environment. Alongside mobilizing public support and lobbying government officials, they are now facing a new challenge: search engine censorship. Over the last few days, searches run on Yahoo! Kimo for the names of various anti-nuclear activists have yielded links to Nuclear Safety, Taiwan Energy [zh], a website run by the Bureau of Energy and Ministry of Economic Affairs, as their top result.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Economic Affairs admitted to Taiwan Apple Daily [zh] that the government had spent 100,000 Taiwanese Yuan (equivalent to USD3500) to alter the search results for 92 keywords on Google and Yahoo! Kimo, the country’s most popular search engine. Among the 92 keywords, 63 are related to nuclear energy and 29 are the names of individuals, many of whom are anti-nuclear activists.
The website Nuclear Safety, Taiwan Energy presents scientific evidence aimed at convincing the public that nuclear energy is safe and the island’s fourth nuclear plant meets international safety standards………… Continue reading
Showdown looms in legislature over nuclear plant vote, Focus Taiwan 2013/08/01 Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) Leaders of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) caucus in the Legislative Yuan vowed Thursday to push for a vote on holding a referendum to decide the fate of Taiwan’s fourth nuclear power plant, as opposition lawmakers prepared to block the procedure.
DPP caucus whip Wu Ping-jui said his caucus made a decision to enter the floor early in order to occupy the podium overnight. Wu said his colleagues will not “give an inch” if a motion is called Friday, as announced by the KMT majority…………
Meanwhile, as a showdown loomed in the Legislature, activists stepped up their anti-nuclear protests around Taipei Thursday……
It mentioned the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan as an example, saying that compensation for the 2011 disaster has so far reached 2.64 trillion yen (US$26.77 billion). The nationalization of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. means that taxpayers have to cover the losses, it added.
Taipower, on the other hand, would not be able to cover such losses, the groups said……….. http://focustaiwan.tw/news/asoc/201308010027.aspx
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