Nuclear waste is the material that nuclear fuel becomes after it is used in a reactor. It is dangerously radioactive and remains so for thousands of years.
Four years after the first Taiwanese nuclear power plant was built in 1970, the Taiwan Atomic Energy Council decided to dump its nuclear waste at Orchid Island (Lanyu), where the indigenous Tao people (Yami) have lived for generations. More than twenty years have passed, the radioactive waste barrels have eroded with rust and it seems that no one is ready to take care of the problem.
There are two nuclear waste storage sites [zh] on Orchid Island. Every week, boats from Taiwan bring the radioactive waste to Orchid Island dumping 45,000 barrels of waste on the beautiful island annually.
These nuclear waste storage sites have changed the fate of Tao people forever. In a campaign page [zh] on the public television website, Tao people demanded that the government return a peaceful childhood to their children:
According to an in-depth report [zh] Tao people were ignorant of the construction of nuclear waste site:
When the Tao people finally learned the danger of nuclear waste in 1987, they began to protest against the nuclear waste and the battle has been going for more than 20 years. In 1995, they announced the “Declaration of expelling the nuclear waste demons” [zh]:
Below is an excerpt of a documentary ‘The borderland‘ [zh]. It shows the life and culture of Tao people on Orchid Island and this video clip from 1:20 to 2:58 shows some precious historical photos about Tao people's protest against the nuclear waste storage sites in 1987:
On December 31 2002, Tao people managed to terminate the contract with the Taiwan Power Company. However, the Taiwanese government has no plan to remove the nuclear waste from the Island. The next round of battle for Tao people since then has been to press the government to solve the waste problem.
Below is special coverage of the nuclear waste problem in Orchid Island. The reporter interviewed the environmentalists, government and protesters, but not a single party could provide a viable solution to the problem:
In 2008, 26 years after the first barrel of nuclear waste was stored on Orchid Island, the government finally took action to conduct a thorough security inspection of these nuclear waste barrels. According to a local news report reposted in the Orchid Island e-news website [zh], the result was worrisome. The inspectors assigned by the Taiwan Atomic Energy Council found out that:
Who should take care of the nuclear waste? Who should be responsible for the nuclear waste? Where should the nuclear waste go? Blogger Annpo pointed out [zh] that the problem of nuclear waste cannot be neglected in the review of energy policy in Taiwan, in addition to the safety of nuclear power plants [zh]: