Thousands of people braved the cold and rain around Taiwan today, Saturday March 12, 2016, the day after the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster to protest against the continuing reliance on nuclear power, the plan to develop a fourth nuclear reactor, and the use of Orchid Island as a storage site for the nuclear waste generated in Taiwan.
Taiwan has three operating nuclear power plants and a fourth has been stalled in development for many years. Like Japan, Taiwan is prone to earthquakes, tsunami, and typhoons. Unlike Japan, Taiwan has an abysmal record when it comes to safety and enforcement of standards and regulations.
Protesters gathered in Taipei, Taichung, and Taitung to draw attention to the threat posed by the power stations, and the injustice of using Orchid Island as a nuclear waste storage site.
Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) is an island off the eastern coast of Taiwan and home to the Tao aboriginal people. Since 1982 the island has been used as a convenient place to store Taiwan’s nuclear waste. Around 45,000 barrels of nuclear waste has been shipped to the storage facility every year, while the native people’s protests have gone unheeded in the Han-dominated legislature.
The nuclear waste on Orchid Island is stored in barrels which have become rusted due to the salt-laden atmosphere, and barrels have been shown to have not only deteriorated, but tipped over.
Yesterday, on the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, Premier Simon Chang (張善政) apologized about the failure of his government to deal with the nuclear waste issue. It was pointed out by New Power Party (NPP) lawmaker Hsu Yung-ming, that the Tao people were misled to believe the facility being built on their island was a fish cannery, and had never agreed to become a dumping-ground for Taiwan’s nuclear waste.