President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) promise to deal with radioactive waste stored on Taitung County’s Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) is an empty one, because it fails to specify exact relocation measures and a timetable, Aborigines on the island said yesterday.
“The apology aside, Tsai did not make any specific promise to remove radioactive waste from the island. It was a pity. It was disappointing,” Orchid Island-based Tao Foundation chief executive Sinan Mavivo said.
“Tsai fudged the issue at a historic moment when she, as the head of state, delivered an apology [to Aborigines],” Mavivo said.
“Officials of previous administrations and even former presidents have delivered apologies, but none of them promised to remove nuclear waste by a specific date,” she said.
Tsai should personally lead Cabinet and Taiwan Power Co (台電) officials on a visit to the island and hold meetings with residents to discuss when and how the nuclear waste will be removed, which is the only way to achieve reconciliation and transitional justice, Mavivo said.
Tsai apologized for the government depositing low-level radioactive waste on the island in 1982 without the knowledge or consent of the Tao people, also known as the Yami.
Tsai said she would establish a task force to investigate the former administration’s decisionmaking process and submit a “truth report.”
However, former Tao Foundation president Siyaman Foangayan said Tsai’s statement was an attempt to postpone dealing with the nuclear waste issue.
“There is nothing to investigate about the nuclear waste issue. There is nothing concealed, as in White Terror-era persecution cases. Storing radioactive waste on the island is simply a misguided policy against a minority, a policy that serves to eliminate [the Tao] people,” Foangayan said.
“Without any specific promise, the apology is simply a feigned attempt at friendliness to justify the government’s rule, which is nothing different from what the former authoritarian regime did,” he said.
If the government is really sincere about dealing with the issue, it should establish a nuclear waste relocation committee as part of the Executive Yuan and the Democratic Progressive Party-dominated legislature should create a removal schedule and budget, as well as create a health evaluation and rehabilitation program, he said.
In a draft bill created by Orchid Island residents and legislators, which Mavivo gave to Tsai yesterday, residents demanded that the government draw up a compensation law.
The draft legislation asks the government to remove radioactive waste from the island within two years after the bill goes into effect and to allocate a NT$10 billion (US$316.1 million) budget to restore local ecology, local residents’ health, and social and economic development.
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