The protesters had been occupying a main Taipei boulevard since
Sunday, demanding the government scrap plans to begin operation of
Taiwan's nearly completed fourth reactor.
"Anti-nuclear public opinion is very high," said 26-year-old
protester Huang Ting-chiao. "The government should respond to the
public's desires as soon as possible."
Taiwan sits on the so-called ring of fire region of seismic activity
around the Pacific Ocean and many of the island's residents are
alarmed at the prospect of an earthquake triggering a disaster like
the one at Fukushima in Japan that followed an earthquake and
tsunami in 2011.
Tens of thousands of people had gathered on Sunday before the
government announced it would halt construction pending a public
Despite that, hundreds of protesters remained out overnight and
police used water cannons to clear them in the morning.
"Many people had hoped for a complete abandonment of the fourth
nuclear plant," the government said in a statement issued later on
"Under this scenario, rising electricity prices are unavoidable."
Media reported several people were injured but police denied that.
On Friday, Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou refused opposition
demands for an immediate referendum on the future of the plant, but
reiterated that the government would hold such a vote before the
facility starts operations.
[to top of second column]
Taiwan's three operating nuclear power stations would have to remain
in operation for longer if the fourth one does not start generating
power as planned, the Economics Ministry has said.
Taiwan's first nuclear plant is set to be decommissioned from
2018-19, while the second is set to close between 2021 and 2023.
Some 40 percent of the island's electricity is generated by coal, 30
percent by natural gas and 18.4 percent by nuclear power, according
to the Economics Ministry.
(Additional reporting by Damon Lin; editing by Robert Birsel)
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