Monday, April 28, 2014

Taiwan Rocked by Anti-Nuclear Protests

Anti-nuclear protesters have taken to the streets of Taipei to demand the end of atomic energy on the island 

Less than a month after the unprecedented occupation of the Legislative Yuan by the Sunflower Movement, riot police and water cannons were once again deployed on the streets of Taipei. But this time, the object of the protests wasn’t a controversial services trade pact with China, but rather nuclear energy, a major point of contention since the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant in Japan. 

At the center of the storm is the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant currently under construction in Gongliao, New Taipei City. Though ostensibly a much safer design than earlier generations of reactors, fears remain that the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) at the Fourth power plant is an unstable assemblage of various systems — a nuclear Frankenstein monster, if you will. Moreover, opponents of the project argue that Taiwan, a highly active seismic area, is too vulnerable to natural catastrophes, including tsunamis and powerful typhoons. Also, they argue that the small size of the island and proximity of nuclear power plants to high-density urban centers raise questions about the ability of the government to evacuate the population in case of a nuclear emergency. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here. (Photo courtesy of Hsiengo Huang)

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