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Tue, Nov 27, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Greens challenge Cabinet on nuclear waste exports

POLICY WANTED Environmentalists are attempting to force the Chen administration to explicitly state that Taiwan will not export radioactive materials to Russia


Members of the Green Party yesterday criticized the Cabinet's reluctance to face controversy over Taiwan's attempt to export nuclear waste to Russia.

The party said that at the very least, an official government announcement about its attitude on the issue should have been released.

Kao Cheng-yan (高成炎), the party's legislative candidate in Taipei City's southern district, yesterday was slated to meet with Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), the Cabinet's secretary-general, seeking a government clarification of its position on the issue of exporting nuclear waste to Russia. The practice was legalized earlier this year and, in fact, Russia encourages the practice as a source of much needed revenue to support its ailing nuclear energy sector.

Chiou was unexpectedly unavailable so Kao instead met with Chiou's secretary.

Kao said that a clearly expressed policy on the issue was important.

He said the Green party hoped the Cabinet would try to end the notoriety Taiwan's attempt to export its nuclear waste to Russia has attracted.

Green Party Taiwan spokesperson Lai Fen-lan (賴芬蘭), said yesterday that anti-nuclear activists are extremely disappointed by the Cabinet's reluctant response to the issue. There was also dismay that the issue had given Taiwan a bad name overseas.

In early November, members of the Green Party, accompanied by activists from Russia, Japan and South Korea, visited several government agencies, including the Atomic Energy Council, the Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At that time, activists asked for an official statement from the government, to clarify that Taiwan would not ship nuclear waste overseas.

However, all of these government agencies said they were unaware of Taipower's intention to export radioactive waste. Meanwhile, Taipower said no negotiations were taking place between the company and Russia.

On Nov. 12, Russian activists held a press conference in Moscow condemning the Taiwanese government's vague position. Anti-nuclear activists have yet to receive a clear response from the Taiwanese governement.

Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman for Ecodefense, said last week that the problem faced by Taiwan and Russia was that the nuclear power industry poses a serious threat to democracy.

In Russia, Slivyak said, over 90 percent of people expressed opposition to the import of nuclear waste, but were ignored by the government.

"Problems that the nuclear industry poses to the world are similar in many countries. It's very important that activists in different countries exchange their experience in combating these problems," Slivyak said.

Meanwhile, anti-nuclear activists in a number of countries that have nuclear power plants or nuclear material processing facilities are working together to exert renewed pressure on their respective governments to reconsider problems caused by poor nuclear waste management.

Ban Hideyuki, co-director of the Tokyo-based Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, paid visits to several governmental agencies in Taiwan in early November but was disappointed by what he said was government reluctance to take any steps on the matter.

Hideyuki is organizing an international meeting in Japan with activists from around the world, including members of Taiwan's Green Citizens' Action Alliance.

At the meeting, which is scheduled for this Friday, activists pllan to discuss nuclear-related issues, including radioactive waste management.

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