Thu, Dec 21, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Nuclear storage raises worries

BEST ALTERNATIVE Taipower maintains that the manner in which it currently stores nuclear waste is optimal, but that is not enough for nearby residents

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei County residents led by county officials yesterday threatened to take to the streets if the government fails to take care of nuclear safety issues in the county, where two nuclear power plants are in operation and one is under construction.

"The existence of the three nuclear plants is a security problem for the 3.76 million residents in Taipei County," Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) said at a press conference.

Chou, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), People First Party Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) and the residents asked the central government to meet their two demands.

The government should request that state-owned Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), the owner of the nuclear power plants, provide an evacuation plan -- based on international norms -- in case of a radiation emission incident, Chou said.

"In accordance with international norms, the plan should cover a radius of 16km to 32km from the nuclear power plant, but Taipower's current plan is just for a radius of 5km," he added.

Chou noted that Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Chang Kow-lung (張國龍), a long-term environmentalist who was a member of the anti-nuclear movement before assuming office, had in the past called for the government to adopt a 32km evacuation plan.

"The 5km evacuation plan is far below even the lowest standard. Chang should put the 32km plan into effect now that he has become EPA minister," he said.

High and low-level radioactive nuclear waste is temporarily stored in the Taipei County plant complex, with a location for final disposal yet to be determined.

Taipower has stated that the manner in which it currently stores nuclear waste is at the moment the best alternative to a permanent location for disposal.

Taipei County residents have asked Taipower to speed up the removal of nuclear waste from the county.

Lee urged Taipower to hold public meetings with residents of the county so that they could express their opinion on the storage plan.

"We will call upon the residents of Taipei County to stage a protest against Taipower and the government if they continue to ignore our demands," Wu said.

Chou said the Taipei County government had issued 240 notices to Taipower for infractions of environmental regulations, with fines totaling NT$280 million (US$8.6 million) from July until last month. These measures have failed to convince Taipower to change its ways.

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