(June 27, 2003) Around 200 residents of the Taiwanese Kungliao village in Taipei County demonstrated on 20 June near the site of the "fourth nuclear power plant" (Lungmen) to demand a halt to the arrival of a reactor from Japan. For several years now anti-nuclear activists have fighted the construction of the nuclear power plant, helped by Kungliao fishermen.
(589.5524) WISE Amsterdam - The reactor vessel and related equipment for the first (of two) reactor was carried from a military port in Japan's Hiroshima Prefecture by a Dutch ship ('Happy Buccaneer', Mammoet-company). Taiwan Power Company will place the reactor temporarily in a warehouse at the construction site. The plant's commercial operation will be launched in July 2006, said Taiwan Power Company. According to anti-nuclear activists the reactor design, an Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), has been used in the Japanese Kashiwazaki NPP, which experienced several accidents.
Taiwan currently operates three nuclear power plants with each two reactors at a site (Chinshan, Kuosheng and Maanshan).
Construction of the disputed Lungmen plant was abruptly halted in October 2000 by the administration of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) shortly after President Chen Shui-bian came to power in May that year (see WISE News Communique 538.5217: "Taiwan: Lungmen cancellation announced, political row continues").
The administration however ordered a resumption of the construction February 2001 after encountering an enormous backlash from the opposition camp (Kwomintan Party) (see WISE News Communique 543.5245: "Taiwan: two sides to the nuclear coin").
A new 'Environmental Basic Law', passed by Parliament in November 2002, requires the government to turn Taiwan into a 'homeland free of nuclear energy' (see WISE News Communique 559: "In brief"). But, the government doesn't mention a date for a final phaseout of nuclear energy. Building a nuclear-free Taiwan has long been a top priority of the DPP and was one of Chen's election promises three years ago.
But now the government is promoting the idea of building a nuclear-free homeland but still goes on constructing the Lungmen reactors at the same time. The DPP government now studies the feasibility of holding a referendum to decide the future of the plant.
To help raise public awareness and give the people a better understanding of what it means to be a 'nuclear-free homeland', the Government Information Office, some Ministry's, the Atomic Energy Council and others formed a Committee for Disseminating Information on Establishing a Nuclear-free Homeland.
As no dates have been laid down for a final phaseout, construction of Lungmen is still continuing and no referendum has been held, the Taiwanese nuclear industry proceeds with its plans for Lungmen and neglects the wish for a nuclear-free Taiwan. On 28 November 2002, the head of the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) announced that Taiwan won't become nuclear-free until 2061, based on the earliest time that Lungmen could be decommissioned (after 45 years of operation).
Resistance against the Lungmen plant has been strong. Taiwan's first anti-nuclear demonstration against it took place in 1987 when hundreds of people sat in front of the Taipower building to protest plans to build Lungmen.
Building Lungmen leads to a negative impact on the ecological systems of nearby coastal areas also because of the construction of a wharf to facilitate construction of the plant. Environmentalists are convinced that the marine habitat of Yanliao (lying within a marine resource conservation area immensely rich in both the number of species and their populations) will be devastated and that the three-kilometer golden beach of fine quartz sand which runs from Yenliao to Fulung, one of the priceless ecological and tourist resources of the northeast coast, may be lost along with it.
Meanwhile protests are continuing. Anti-nuke activists marched on 23 June from Taipei's City hall to the Longshan Temple in Wanhua District marking the completion of a nine-month island-wide drive over more than 1,000 kilometers to get the fate of the plant back on the political agenda.
With this march concluded, the activists plan to stage a sit-in protest in front of the Presidential Office on 4 July to pressure President Chen Shui-bian to fulfill the promise he made during the 2000 presidential election to halt construction of Lungmen. The anti-nuclear activists, who organized the Association for a Referendum on Lungmen, also plan to visit nuclear power stations island-wide to promote their anti-nuclear message.
Even te U.S. starts interfering with the issue. Two Chinese-language newspapers reported that the U.S. has warned Taiwan not to hold a referendum on Lungmen. The United Daily News and Apple Daily reported that Douglas Paal, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, said Washington opposed the referendum, planned to coincide with next year's presidential elections. President Chen Shui-bian respondend by saying that "only Taiwan's 23 million people have the right to decide Taiwan's future".
- Government Information Office, 14 February 2001
- Sinorama Magazine, 27 March 2001
- Taipei Times, 28 November 2002, 20 and 23 June 2003
- China Post, 20 and 21 June 2003
Contact: Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), #29, Lane 128, section 3, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, Taiwan
Tel: +886 2 363 6419 Fax: +886 2 362 3458