Tue, Jan 07, 2003 - Page 2 News List

AEC vows to press for nuclear storage-site regulations


Under pressure from residents of Orchid Island, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said yesterday it will press for a law outlining regulations for a final depository for radioactive waste temporarily stored on the island.

The statement comes less than a week after members of the Tao Aboriginal tribe protested once again about the low-level radioactive waste stored there.

When management of the depository, opened in 1982, was handed over from the AEC to the Taiwan Power Company in 1990, it was agreed the waste would be removed to a final destination by the end of last year.

Tao protesters said on New Year's Day that they would not agree to extend the lease because they'd been cheated for too long.

Ministry of Economic Affairs officials said the following day that they would meet with representatives of Tao Aborigines before Jan. 15 to discuss the value of the interim repository.

Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Yi-fu (林義夫) said the ministry had signed a pledge to exclude Orchid Island from a list of possible sites for a permanent radioactive-waste dump.

Officials of the AEC, the nation's nuclear safety watchdog, said yesterday that the lack of regulations for permanent repositories had delayed attempts to find a suitable site.

"We will do our best to push the passage of the law, which will become the legal basis for Taipower when it searches for sites to deposit low-level radioactive waste," council chairman Ouyang Min-shen (歐陽敏盛) said yesterday.

The Cabinet passed draft regulations on final repositories for low-level radioactive waste on Dec. 4.

The regulations were scheduled to be discussed in the Legislative Yuan yesterday, but too few legislators attended the meeting, which had to be canceled.

The proposed law would create legal proceedings to ensure professionalism and transparency in the selection of storage sites.

"No matter what, the AEC will not avoid facing challenges pertaining to radioactive waste management," Ouyang said.

Ouyang said yesterday that the latest technology could ensure the safety of repositories for low-level radioactive waste, as had been demonstrated in Japan.

"Low-level radioactive waste is manageable," Ouyang said, adding that the public should be aware of this.

He said that Taipower's plan to build a final repository in Wuchiu (烏坵), Kinmen County, was infeasible.

"How can Taipower ensure the safety of the site in Wuchiu? We AEC officials were not even invited to participate in the geological evaluation," Ouyang said.

Taipower has reportedly spent NT$700 million evaluating the site during the past five years.

According to Taipower, Tai-wan's first permanent repository site for low-level radioactive nuclear waste would not be available for at least 10 years after the law is passed.

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

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