This paper is an investigation into Taiwan’s policy on nuclear waste disposal, concentrating on the ways in which dumping sites have been chosen, and on the wider implications of those choices. The central aim was to examine whether this policy breached the distributive and procedural principles of environmental justice by discriminating against disadvantaged areas and minority ethnic groups. The paper first clarifies the meaning of environmental justice and then applies it to the case study of Taiwan’s decision announced in 2009 that Da-Ren (達仁鄉) in Taitung County (台東縣) and Wang-An (望安鄉) in Penghu County (澎湖縣) were its two favoured potential sites for the final disposal repository of radioactive waste. The findings of the research suggest that the Taiwan government and the nuclear power provider, Taipower, failed to fulfil the requirements of environmental justice in reaching this decision. The contribution of this case study to the literature on the environmental injustice of nuclear waste siting policies is fourfold. First, it adds to the growing number of studies that show how siting decisions systematically and deliberately disadvantage vulnerable communities. Second, it finds the basis of this discriminatory policy to lie in the wider pattern of inequality that exists in Taiwanese society—a pattern that is rooted in historical traditions of racial and tribal prejudice, reinforced by contemporary forms of corruption. Third, it suggests that a solution to the problem of environmental injustice in nuclear waste siting policy may have to wait until these broader practices of unequal treatment in Taiwan are addressed. Fourth, it speculates that the need for a solution to the nuclear waste problem may be a catalyst for dealing with these broader patterns of unequal treatment.
Environment, Development and Sustainability 15(6), pp.1555-1571