Protest draws thousands in Taipei calling for end to nuclear power

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Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌, front center) (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- An annual anti-nuclear march was held on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Sunday, drawing about 2,000 people calling for an end to the use of nuclear power in Taiwan.

The protest, held on the seventh anniversary of the meltdown of the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant in northeast Japan on March 11, 2011, was organized by the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform, an organization joined by hundreds of anti-nuclear civic groups from around Taiwan.

While pressing the government to decommission nuclear power plants as soon as possible, the other purpose of the Sunday's demonstration was to prepare people for the potentially high cost of closing the nation's three operating nuclear power plants and the disposal of nuclear waste, the organizer said.

Walking with protesters, Legislator Huang Kuo-chang of the opposition New Power Party, said that as the government has already said Taiwan will be nuclear free by 2025, it should move forward with the plan, but is instead going backwards.

The recent approval of the reactivation of the second reactor at the Second Nuclear Power Plant after maintenance work is "obviously a backwards move," Huang said.

The lawmaker named the nuclear plant as one of the most dangerous power plants on Earth due to its geographic position, in an area subject to volcanic, earthquake and tsunami activities, and raised safety concerns in the wake of reported radiation leaks and explosions in the past.

Three major demands were made during the protest, including on the disposal of nuclear waste, a transition to environmentally-friendly energy sources and the decommissioning or re-purposing of nuclear power plants in the country.

Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Motion League member Chiang Ying-mei urged the government to proactively address the thorny problem of nuclear waste disposal, calling for the fast-tracking of three bills detailing the management of nuclear waste.