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June 23, 2017

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Mass protests planned for Fukushima anniversary

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Anti-nuclear protesters said they expected to attract 220,000 people to a series of marches across Taiwan marking the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster on March 11.

The marches, to be held in Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taitung, will be the first mass anti-nuclear demonstrations since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016.

While announcing the march at a demonstration outside the Presidential Office Monday morning, leaders from several anti-nuclear groups also demanded that regulations be established before Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) decides on a new location for storing nuclear waste.

The Green Citizens' Action Alliance's (綠色公民行動聯盟) secretary-general, Tsui Shu-hsin (崔愫欣), who organized Monday's demonstration, said Tsai had promised during the election campaign to make Taiwan nuclear free, but had so far failed to provide concrete plans or a timetable on how this would be achieved.

"The March 11 march aims to push the government to propose more proactive, productive measures to save energy and develop renewable energy technology."

The march, jointly organized by the Stop Nukes Now activist group, was expected to attract 220,000 participants this year, the most of any anti-nuclear demonstration in Taiwan since 2013, organizers said.

Aside from urging the decommissioning of Taiwan's three operational nuclear power plants, Tsui drew attention to speculation that the government was set to relax restrictions on the import of food products from regions of Japan affected by the Fukushima meltdown.

Tsui warned that without public consent and clear plans for quality control, the issue could become a hindrance to making Taiwan nuclear free.

Reports suggested that Taipower was considering Keelung, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu as potential locations to store future waste from the three operating nuclear power plants, as well as existing waste currently stored on Orchid Island.

The company refused to confirm the reports, but did say that it had submitted location proposals last year to the Atomic Energy Council, which should make its final remarks on the matter Wednesday.

Tsui said that "it's putting the cart before the horse if residents from rural areas who have never enjoyed electricity generated by nuclear power are made to pay the price."

'Public consensus needed'

North Coast Anti-nuclear Action Alliance Taiwan's (北海岸反核行動聯盟) chief executive, Kuo Ching-lin (郭慶霖), said Monday that a set of rules governing where nuclear waste dumps are located must be enacted.

"The managing of nuclear waste require full consensus from the public," Kuo said.

Later Monday, Penghu County Magistrate Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復) and Kinmen Deputy Magistrate Wu Cherng-dean (吳成典) vowed to prevent their counties becoming sites for the storage of nuclear waste.

"It will not happen during my tenure," Chen said, adding that the waste would have a severe impact on Pengu's tourism-dependent economy.

Wu said the waste-site plans showed that Taipower had "no conscience."

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