Thu, May 01, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Taitung protests nuclear dumping

NO NUKES Angry residents staged a vigorous protest in front of the county council building and said nuclear waste should be shared by the entire population

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

More than 200 Taitung residents demonstrate outside the Taitung County Council building yesterday against the construction of a permanent repository for low-level radioactive waste. They handed over a petition with more than 1,000 signatures of residents protesting the dumping of nuclear waste in their county. They stated that the responsibility for the waste should be shouldered by the entire population.

PHOTO: CNA

More than 200 residents of Taitung County yesterday protested against a project to build the nation's first permanent repository for low-level radioactive waste in the county's Tawu (大武) township.

Gathering in front of the county council building yesterday morning, demonstrators handed over a petition that had been signed by more than 1,000 anti-nuclear residents, urging the council to prevent radioactive waste from being stored in Taitung.

According to demonstrators, the responsibility of solving existing radioactive waste problems should be shared fairly by the entire population instead of only Taitung residents.

"We are against the storage of nuclear waste in Taitung," demonstrators shouted.

In addition, the demonstrators said, they did not want to sacrifice the environment just to be compensated for the project.

Council Speaker Wu Chun-li (吳俊立), who received the petition letter, said the city council share the anti-nuclear residents' point of view.

Wu said that the council turned down Taipower's invitation last month to join a field trip to facilities dealing with nuclear waste management in eastern and northern Europe.

"By doing so, we hope to underline the council's firm stance against the project to dump nuclear waste in Taitung," Wu said.

Hundreds of demonstrators protested later in front of the Taitung County Government building, urging Taitung County Magistrate Hsu Ching-yuan (徐慶元) to explain why he was in favor of accepting radioactive waste.

Hsu was not in the building at the time.

Residents said they suspected that several groups could be profiting from supporting the project.

Hsu said last week, when he returned from a field trip to Japan to inspect related facilities, that Taitung will not "shirk its social responsibility," if no other places in Taiwan are willing to accommodate radioactive waste.

Last month, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) promised to come up with a solution to problems relating to the removal of an interim repository on Orchid Island.

Nearly 100,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, hospitals and research institutes are stored on the island.

At that time, Hsu said that the county would accept the waste as long as nuclear safety, sound compensation and an agreement from the area's residents could be ensured.

According to Taipower, the project remains uncertain. A location would not be picked until a draft law is passed.

The law is in draft format, outlining regulations on choosing the site of final repositories for low-level radioactive waste.

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