A massive earthquake and series of tsunami triggered 2011’s Fukushima nuclear disaster and exposed major shortcomings and widespread complacency in safety and preparedness but the shockwaves reverberated well beyond Japan.
Further along the fault lines of the Pacific Rim of Fire lies Taiwan – another heavily industrialised, modern economy highly reliant on nuclear power. On the mainland, home to three nuclear power-plants (with another on the way) concern is growing about the threats posed by reactors on shaky ground. And because of its disputed nationhood, Taiwan can ship its waste for processing overseas, so the occupants of a little Taiwanese island are also up in arms about the dumping of waste on their beachfront.
30 years ago the indigenous Tao were told their island home had been chosen as the location of a fish cannery and with it would come employment and economic growth beyond their subsistence existence. Instead, they got a nuclear waste facility and they now worry about the impact of a growing stockpile of waste on their farms and fishing grounds. Tens of thousands of the barrels of waste are now corroding and the islanders are not happy.
“More than 70,000 barrels, it sounds scary just saying that figure. There should not be a leak in a single barrel. Even a leak in a single barrel, doesn’t that pose a huge risk to us?” Lin Shih-Lan, Tao leader
The government is now promising to hold a referendum on its future. But if the reactor doesn’t go ahead, the country’s nuclear future is in question, along with the $9 billion already spent on the plant. And the state owner power company, Taipower, would face bankruptcy and any undertaking to relocate the nuclear dump from Orchid Island would vaporise.
Read more and the transcript at Standing on Shaky Ground: Taiwan