Anti-nuke demonstrators demand to meet premier

By Ann Yu, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Anti-nuclear power activists staged a demonstration in front of the Executive Yuan yesterday, demanding Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) make good on his promise of an in-person meeting with them.

The protesters comprised environmental group members as well as people from northern coastal regions, Taitung and Orchid Island.

“Our premier and president proposed to meet the anti-nuclear group before the March 9 anti-nuclear demonstrations,” protest organizers said in a statement. “We have clearly stated our demands and it is now the Cabinet’s responsibility to give its response.” A Cabinet spokesperson said that the premier is more than willing to talk with the anti-nuclear groups and is arranging a time for such a meeting.

Orchid Island residents at the demonstration expressed anger over the island’s status as a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

The waste issue has been ignored for over 30 years, they said, calling it unfair for the government to dump the dangerous materials on the island. Some 100,000 barrels of radioactive waste are currently stored there.

“The government has broken its promise to remove the nuclear waste,” Orchid Island resident Sinon Mavivo (希婻瑪飛洑) said. “It is not fair that the government chose a land full of underprivileged people to store the dangerous radioactive waste.” State-owned Taipower has previously said that it will remove the waste from the island after finding a disposal site for low-level radioactive waste, but is yet to give any timeframe for the removal.

According to Peng Chi-wei (彭志煒), a Department of Planning section chief under the Atomic Energy Council (AEC), a regional referendum is likely to be held to decide on a disposal site for low-level nuclear waste this July, which would mean that the nuclear waste will be removed from Orchid Island in the near future.

Peng said that the AEC is responsible for inspecting disposal areas to ensure that waste is stored properly underground and that there is no risk of leakage or anything else that could cause damage to the environment.

In terms of safety and security, the AEC has placed numerous environmental monitoring instruments on Orchid Island and so far results have been all positive, Peng said.

Meanwhile, Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said yesterday that safety officials will begin inspections of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant on April 2, but did not respond directly when asked whether the results of the inspection could be publicized.

Chang also voiced support for lawmaker Ting Shou-chung’s (丁守中) proposal for the Legislature to create a nuclear safety inspection committee.

“Hopefully the committee will consist of members with backgrounds in nuclear energy, and not just people who strongly represent a certain side,” Chang said.