FEATURE: Lanyu’s residents grudgingly accept nuclear storage via Taipei Times

The Tao Aborigines of Lanyu (蘭嶼) — also known as Orchid Island — are once again taking to the streets to voice their opposition to a nuclear storage facility on their island, calling for its immediate removal. While it may appear that the removal of nuclear waste is the only thing the Taos want, the real situation is much more complicated, as Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) is exerting considerable effort on the resource-scarce island to minimize opposition.

“We love Lanyu. We don’t want nuclear waste,” hundreds of Taos and their supporters shouted out loud as they marched on the streets of Taipei on March 11 — the first anniversary of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, which led to the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant — during a demonstration against nuclear power.
Before the March 11 demonstrations, hundreds of Taos also organized their own demonstration in front of the nuclear waste storage facility on the island on Feb. 20.
“The first shipment of nuclear waste came to the island in 1982, the year I was born,” Si Ara’n said. “I grew up watching adults on the island fighting against nuclear waste. When I was little, I didn’t know what they were doing, but now I understand why the elders fought against it.”


In the late 1970s, the Taos on Lanyu were informed that the government would build a canned fish product factory on the island to provide jobs, only to find out that the factory was a nuclear waste storage facility, which left behind feelings of deception among most residents there.
Although sentiment against nuclear waste on the island remains strong, the passion among many has gradually faded away over the past three decades, as they begin to accept the existence of nuclear waste on the island and eye the “benefits” that it brings.


Si Matospo, a Lanyu resident who has worked at a local community organization, said although the amount of compensation may seem huge, it is not easy for residents to claim.
“For example, though the six villages on the island are entitled to a NT$20 million compensation for community development, those who wish to obtain it must apply for it through community development organizations with carefully written proposals,” Si Matospo said. “Unfortunately, not many people are able to write proposals and thus not many people can actually get the money.”
Liklun, a 49-year-old woman from Imourud Village — administratively known as Hongtou Village (紅頭) — said it was time for the Taos to wake up.
“Taipower built the storage facility through a lie. We need to think beyond our generation, think of our children and grandchildren,” she said.
When asked whether she thinks the NT$1.7 billion compensation from Taipower was helping the island, she responded with a question: “Look at the condition of the roads on this island — do we look like a place with NT$1.7 billion invested in development?”
Sinan Mavivo, an anti-nuclear waste activist, agreed.
“Taipower contaminates our island with nuclear waste and it also contaminates our minds with money,” she said. “They are trying to make us think that we cannot live without nuclear waste.”

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