Legislators from both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) expressed their displeasure yesterday following a presentation by Atomic Energy Council Deputy Minister Shieh Der-jhy (謝得志) on radiation risks stemming from the leak at a nuclear power plant in Japan.
Amid the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant and rising public fear of possible fallout in Taiwan, Shieh said current levels of radiation did not meet the standards that would make taking iodine tablets or seeking cover necessary.
Iodine pills will reduce 100mSv (millisievert) — a measuring unit for radiation affecting biological matter — in the human body, Shieh said.
However, at its worst, the radioactive dust affecting Taiwan has only reached a level of 7mSv, -making the tablets currently unnecessary, he said.
“Ingestion of iodine tablets is harmful to the body, so don’t take any unless you have to,” Shieh said.
The council had utilized a sophisticated computer programs to analyze possible scenarios involving the explosion of nuclear reactors at both the Fukushima Dai-ichi and Dai-ni power plants, Shieh said. Analysis showed that by the time radioactive dust traveled the 2,200km between Fukushima and Taiwan, it would have been diluted by a factor of 1 million.
“This would have an effect, yes, but not enough to justify adopting protective measures,” Shieh said.
Turning to safety in Taiwan’s nuclear plants, Shieh said safety plans were reviewed every five years.
“Taiwan Power [the operator of the nuclear power plants] has already submitted this year’s plan and we are in the process of reviewing it right now and,” Shieh said.
However, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said that Shieh’s answers were inadequate.
Why is it that despite the council’s claims to have distributed iodine tablets to every household near a nuclear power plant, “nobody has them?” he asked.
Shieh said the tablets could be found at the borough warden’s office, county government bureaus or have already been distributed to households.
Meanwhile, KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) said the “maximum 5km radius” for evacuations quoted on the council’s Web site was misleading.
“Residents in Fukushima within a 20km to 30km radius have been evacuated, so why are we sticking with 5km?” he asked.