Thu, Dec 26, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Taos demand action on waste

EMPTY PROMISES?Representatives from the Aboriginal Tao tribe say they are fed up with the government's excuses and want the radioactive waste removed immediately


Representatives of Orchid Island's residents stage a protest at the Legislative Yuan to demand that the Cabinet not renew the land lease contract with Taipower for storing nuclear waste. The representatives also asked for a timetable for the removal of the waste.


Representatives of Aboriginal Tao (達悟) tribe from Orchid Island said yesterday that they would not agree to the extension of the lease on a interim repository for low-level radioactive waste because they'd been cheated for too long.

"We here urge President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to fulfill his campaign promise -- to relocate the waste during his presidency," said Lu Hsia (呂俠), a representative of residents of Orchid Island.

Lu also demanded a clear timeframe for the removal of the radioactive material. Currently, 97,672 barrels of low-level radioactive waste are stored at the site.

Tao people said that they were not convinced that the Cabinet's draft laws pertaining to radioactive waste management would ultimately lead to the relocation of such waste.

A draft outlining regulations on choosing the site of final repositories for low-level radioactive waste was passed by the Cabinet on Dec. 4 and was sent to the Legislative Yuan one week later for approval.

The proposed law aims to create legal proceedings which ensure both professionalism and information transparency while choosing permanent repositories sites for domestic low-level radioactive waste.

In mid-December, Premier Yu Shyi-kun vowed that the government would eventually get rid of the waste, but said that the government needs to extend the lease.

A representative of Aboriginal Tao workers, Si-Maraos, said, "Stop lying to us. Our only dream is, when we go home, the waste is gone," said , a representative of Aboriginal Tao.

Si-Maraos told the Taipei Times that one-third of the 3,000 Tao people living on Orchid Island currently work in Taiwan.

The Tao are supported by a diverse range of people from local residents, environmentalists, labor activists, professors, legislators to cultural workers.

Aboriginal Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) yesterday said that Article 15 of the controversial draft would make it possible to levy land of Orchid Island as a permanent repository.

"From now on I will not participate in the government's commissions because the government treats Tao people with no sincerity," Chin said at the press conference.

Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢), a film director, said it was his first time to speak at a press conference in favor of the anti-nuclear movement.

Hou said that the developing nuclear power industry in Taiwan was the government's hasty work and inadvertently hurt his Tao pals, whom he'd known for years since he shot a film on the island.

"It's impossible to build a nuclear-free country if the government has no long-term plan on nuclear related issues," Hou said.

Wu Wen-tung (吳文通), head of the Kungliao-based Yenliao Anti-Nuclear Self-Help Association, said that the government has sacrificed not only the Tao people on Orchid Island but also residents living near nuclear power plants.

According to Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), Taiwan's first permanent repository for low-level radioactive waste would not be available for at least 10 years after the law is passed.

Taipower officials said yesterday that once the law was established, the government would take five years to choose a location for the repositories. Taipower would spend another five-years to design and build the repositories.

The interim repository on Orchid Island was opened in 1982.

The management changed hands from the Atomic Energy Council to Taipower in 1990 under an agreement that required that all waste be relocated by the end of this year.

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