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September 24, 2017

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Anti-nuclear activists protest reactor at rock festival

By Kathy Chu--Only three kilometers away from the fourth nuclear power plant, the five-day Ho-Hai-Yan Gongliao Rock Festival kicked off on 7/11 in Gonliao, New Taipei City. According to the estimate, several hundred thousand people would have swarmed to this small seaside town by the end of 7/15. About two dozen young men and women among them, however, were not there for fun; calling themselves the "Anti-Nuclear Troop," they were there to launch a no-nuke campaign in this annual beach party.

Promoting a nuclear-free nation in a creative manner, the Anti-Nuclear Troop invited partygoers to line up in the shape of the Chinese character for "people" (人), as a protest to President Ma Ying-jeou.

"No one is opposed to (my) nuclear policy," said Ma in the press conference before his inauguration. Popular culture was another inspiration of their no-nuke campaign. Anti-Nuclear Troop volunteers distributed fans in the image of "V" from "V for Vendetta" to the visitors (so they could cool off in the scorching heat), as a symbolic gesture to challenge Ma's nuclear policy. They believe that the government has committed an"offense against public safety."

According to President Ma, the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which is located about 40 kilometers from the Presidential Office, will kick off operations in 2016. The plant is only 8 kilometers away from watershed of Feitsui Resevoir, the major source of drinking water for Taipei residents.

About 7 million people could die as a result of a nuclear disaster at the plant, according to one estimate.

Since the beginning of construction, the plant 's safety has been constantly questioned by domestic nuclear experts. Despite the government's efforts to play down its problems, the plant's safety supervisory committee Chairman Hsieh Der-jhy openly refused to endorse its safety last August. In June, the investigation of the Agency Against Corruption revealed a scandal at the plant — the cables purchased by Taipower, which cost taxpayers NT$4.45 million, were not radiation-resistant. The worst consequence, according to a senior Taipower staff member, would be the meltdown of the power plant.

Taiwan has three nuclear power plants in the capital region; the first and second nuclear power plants are less than 30 kilometers away from the Presidential Office. The three active nuclear power plants account for only 12.4 percent of power production, while Taiwan's emergency power supply is over 20 percent even in summer, the power consumption peak.

According to the conclusion of the Japan Congress report, the Fukushima nuclear disaster was a result of human error. Like Japan, Taiwan is also prone to massive earthquakes.

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