Mon, Jul 26, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Lifetime access to healthcare sought by radiation victims


A group of people who lived in a building contaminated by radiation for more than a decade called for free access to healthcare yesterday.

Thousands of victims condemned the government for dragging its feet in enacting a ban on radioactive materials in housing construction. In the early 1980s, reinforcement bars contaminated with Cobalt-60 were used in the construction of more than 100 buildings in Taiwan. The situation was not publicly known until August 1992, when the government confirmed that several buildings in Taipei City contained radioactive material.

An investigation later suggested that roughly 180 buildings nationwide -- including office buildings and schools -- had radioactive materials. To date, it is estimated that more than 10,000 people, including short-term tenants and workers at related iron and steel works, have been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.

At a gathering of the Radiation Safety Protection Association in Taipei yesterday, spokesman Wang Yu-lin (王玉麟), who once lived in radiation-contaminated "Minsheng Villas" housing complex in Taipei, urged the Atomic Energy Council to have ensure all those who were exposed to the radiation receive adequate medical care.

Wang said that special measures dealing with radiation victims had been drafted by the council and would be reviewed by the Legislative Yuan in the September session. Wang also noted many victims feel the government lacks the will to deal with the issue, as compensation would be only given to those who developed cancer as a result of the exposure to radiation.

"Drafted measures only entitle the victims to receive a free annual health examination. This is unfair," Wang said.

Wang said what victims actually need is lifetime access to medical resources to monitoring their health and sound health education.

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