Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - Page 8 News List

No safety under new nuclear rules

By Jay Fang 方儉

Last year, Jimmy Liao (幾米) and 19 other Taiwanese illustrators issued a collection of 20 anti-nuclear illustrations titled Nuclear Disaster Is Real, Nuclear Safety Is False (核災是真的 核安是假的).

Today, the focus of Taiwan’s nuclear problem is not whether the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) will be put into operation or whether the dry cask storage site at Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門) will become operational, but rather that if the draft organic act of the Cabinet’s Nuclear Safety Commission is passed, the act will not only be unable to guarantee nuclear safety, it will guarantee that nuclear disaster will happen.

Over the past two years, several private members of non-governmental organizations have taken measurements around Taiwan with simple Geiger meters and found that radiation has increased by several times over the past two decades.

The measurements were inexplicably high at a few elementary schools.

These independent researchers say that this is the result of nuclear power plants and research institutes having incinerated about 90 percent of Taiwan’s nuclear waste over the past two decades, calling it “reducing nuclear waste volumes.”

This is the best evidence of the Atomic Energy Council’s longstanding unrestricted behavior under the guise of promoting the peaceful use of nuclear power. Constant miniature disasters and radiation leaks occuring at Taiwan’s nuclear power plants provide the only way to explain the increase in radiation, especially since most of the radiation is of the kind generated at nuclear power plants.

On Jan. 3, an alliance of non-governmental organizations and academics called on the commission to change its name from the Nuclear Safety Commission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and to act as a truly independent agency and fulfill its legal responsibility to establish a nuclear-free country as specified in Article 23 of the Basic Environment Act (環境基本法).

In the original Cabinet version, the “nuclear safety council” was to fall under the Ministry of Science and Technology — which will be the new name of the National Science Council when it is upgraded next month — but following the intervention of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and others, the council will become an “independent agency,” just like the National Communications Commission and the Fair Trade Commission.

However, judging from the council’s organic act, the council remains a government agency, but because it is said to be independent, it will also be able to evade the prying eyes and supervision of the Cabinet, the legislature and the Control Yuan.

In the future, the construction, operation, control and restarting of nuclear power plants, as well as the regulation of nuclear waste and radiation, will all be placed in the black box that is this “independent agency.” There is neither public participation nor information transparency, but only the increased power of this clique of nuclear engineers to do as they please.

This is the greatest step backward in the world for nuclear safety since the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

If the Cabinet version of the organic law for the new council is passed and the premier appoints the council members and chairperson, will they carry out their duties independently without any supervision?

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