(May 17, 2002) Expressing their wrath at the government's failure to remove nuclear waste from the island, the Tao tribe of Orchid Island launched an island wide protest on 1 May 2002 to demand that Taiwan's government set up a solid schedule and promise to remove nuclear waste from the island.
(568.5407) Green Party Taiwan - The temporary repository of radioactive waste in Orchid Island was opened in 1982, and has already stored 97,672 barrels of low-level radioactive waste, which accounts to 57% of total production (see WISE News Communique 387-8, "Orchid Island: Taiwan's Nuclear Dumpsite").
Taiwan's anti-nuclear organizations have launched campaigns to support the Orchid Island residents. On 3 May 2002, in front of the Legislative Yuan, representatives of environmental NGOs denounce the failure of the relocation project as disrespecting environmental justice. The living standard of Orchid Island residents is much lower than that in Taiwan, and for them nuclear power is unnecessary and unwanted. However, Orchid island residents have to bear the risk of nuclear waste produced from the main island of Taiwan.
Anti-nuclear organizations demand that Taiwan's government remove the nuclear waste from Orchid Island. The relocation project must not be postponed because of the difficulty of finding a final storage site. It is proposed by anti-nuclear organizations that the government should relocate the nuclear waste to a military area or a nuclear prohibited site.
After the immediate response of the government to the aborigines' protect on 1 May, residents nearby the first, second and third nuclear power plants launched protests as well. Those residents are concerned that their health may have been threatened by the nearby high level radioactive waste storage and nuclear fuel. The fisheries living nearby the second nuclear power plant have even demanded that Taiwan Power Company pay them 26 billion NT dollars (US$730 million) in compensation.
Anti-nuclear organizations consider that the problem of nuclear waste is due to the mistaken nuclear energy policy of the government. Since the Progressive Democratic Party (DPP) became the ruling party, attempts had been made to correct the mistaken nuclear energy policy when the Executive Yuan announced a halt to the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant on 27 October 2000 (see WISE News Communique 538.5217, "Taiwan: Lungmen cancellation announced, political row continues"). However, the boycott of the opposing parties in the Legislative Yuan resulted in a resolution reinstating the project, forcing the government to resume construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant on February 14, 2001 (see WISE News Communique 543.5245, "Taiwan: Two sides to the nuclear coin").
Any foreign negotiation with North Korea, Russia, China or even the Solomon Islands in seeking the final storage site for nuclear waste would never provide a solution, if the opposing parties continually insist on the mistaken nuclear energy policy. Withdrawing the nuclear energy policy is the only way to resolve the problem. Therefore, anti-nuclear organizations call on the government and opposition parties to address the welfare of the people by halting the fourth nuclear power plant as soon as possible. It is also essential to decommission the three already built nuclear power plants, letting all the people enjoy a nuclear-free Taiwan and live without any risk of nuclear waste.