Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-07 03:49 PM
The controversial fourth nuclear plant in Gongliao, New Taipei City, is approaching completion, causing a new upturn of public concern over its safety. In addition, March 11 also marks the anniversary of the earthquake and the tsunami which hit Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant.
At a similar event last year, Taiwan saw an estimated 220,000 people take to the streets in several cities to voice their opposition against continued nuclear energy in the country.
Saturday’s protests were originally only scheduled for Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Taitung, but on the eve of the events organizers also announced new activities in Tainan, Yilan, Miaoli and Hengchun in Pingtung County, the site of the third nuclear plant. Miaoli and Yilan would hold their protests during the morning, but most of the other marches and rallies would take place between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
In Taipei, disaster victims, social movements, youths and gay groups would start marching from a park on Nanjing East Road. A group of mostly families and artists would leave from the Dinghao Plaza in a busy eastern shopping district, while the third group, comprising animal rights activists, religious and political personalities, was expected to march from National Taiwan University, organizers said.
The destination of all three Taipei marches was Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building, where the event would end up with a massive rally including speeches and music.
In Taichung, activists said crowds would march to the city government building and form an anti-nuclear slogan in Chinese characters. They said that tests had found signs of radioactivity in the center of the city and at a nearby university, showing that even though Taiwan was not a nuclear disaster site, the public was still living under the threat of pollution.
As in other locations, the event would start at 2 p.m. and wrap up at 6 p.m. after concerts and speeches, the organizers said.
The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party has lent its support to the protests, calling for an immediate stop to the Gongliao project and to the closure of the three other nuclear power plants according to the official timetable.
The government of President Ma Ying-jeou came under fire earlier in the week for spending taxpayers’ money on commercials defending nuclear energy. Officials said safety tests on the Gongliao plant would be completed before the end of summer, but the installation of fuel rods would not be started before next year.