NUCLEAR FREE:Rallies are being planned nationwide — from Taipei to Kaohsiung — with organizers hoping to attract at least 220,000 participants, like they did last year
Anti-nuclear protesters around the country plan to take to the streets on Saturday, calling for an end to plans to put the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant into operation and the use of nuclear power.
The nationwide action is aimed at pushing the government to make a commitment to a no-nuke homeland, said Tsui Su-hsin (崔傃欣), secretary-general of Green Citizens’ Action Alliance, one of the participating non-governmental organizations.
Tsui said the alliance, along with several dozen civic organizations such as the Homemakers United Foundation, Taiwan Association for Human Rights and Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, would call for the scrapping of nuclear power plants.
“We hope to renew people’s passion for this issue as the anti-nuclear movement has entered a critical stage,” as the fourth nuclear plant could begin operations soon, Tsui said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs said earlier this year that safety inspections on the nearly completed power plant are expected to run through June, and that if all goes well, it could start fuel rod installation by the end of the year.
The inspections were initiated in an effort to ease widespread public concerns after the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, which was caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Construction of the fourth power plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) began in 1999, but the project has repeatedly stalled due in part to the changing political climate and rising opposition to nuclear power.
Tsui said the government should immediately stop construction of the fourth nuclear plant and speedily decommission the other three that are in operation.
It is hoped that the rallies, which are to take place in Taipei, Greater Taichung, Greater Kaohsiung and Taitung, would draw at least 220,000 protesters, on a par with the nationwide anti-nuclear march last year, Tsui said.
Taiwan Power Co, which is in charge of the country’s power plants, has insisted that the fourth nuclear plant is safe and that measures have been taken to avert a Fukushima-type disaster.
The government has said that nuclear power is needed to ensure that the nation has a steady and adequate supply of electricity.
It has also said the fourth plant is safe and necessary, especially as the other three decades-old plants will be decommissioned eventually.
In Taipei, the demonstrators are expected to meet at three locations — the plaza in front of Wellcome Supermarket in Daan District (大安), the intersection between Linsen N Road and Nanjing E Road, and National Taiwan University’s main entrance.
The marches are to start at 2pm and conclude at 5pm in front of the Presidential Office building, and are to be followed by a vigil until 9:30pm.
In Greater Taichung, the rally starts at 1pm at Taichung Civic Square, while the rally in Greater Kaohsiung begins at 2pm at Kaohsiung Aouzihdi Forest Park.
In Taitung, the event is to take the form of a march and a flea market, starting at 1:30pm at the Nanjing Civilian Plaza, organizers said.