Sat, Sep 29, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Activists demand survey of Lanyu radiation levels

PARADISE LOST?Professors warn that radiation levels pose a threat to both residents and visitors of the island and may cause cancers and cardiovascular diseases

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Environmentalists yesterday called on the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) to conduct a thorough survey around Lanyu (蘭嶼, also known as Orchid Island) as a report released by Japanese academics shows that an unusual amount of radiation has been found on the island and that the nuclear waste storage facility on the island may be leaking.

“Two Japanese academics have found unusual levels of radiation at more than 10 locations around Lanyu, with the level at one location as high as 500 times more than the environment background value — this shows that the issue of radioactive pollution is very serious on the island,” Peter Chang (張武修), a professor at Taipei Medical University’s School of Public Health, and the chairman of the National Association for Radiation Protection, told a news conference yesterday.

“We hereby call on the AEC to conduct a throughout survey on radiation levels on the island,” he added. “This is not only for the safety and health of residents, but also for protection of tens of thousands of visitors to the island.”

He said that exposure to such levels of radiation may increase the risk of residents and visitors getting cardiovascular diseases, cancers, or giving birth to deformed babies.

Chang was referring to a report released by Tokyo-based J.F. Oberlin University professor Katsumi Nakao and associate professor You Kato from Tokyo Metropolitan University’s Division of Radiological Science.

The two Japanese academics conducted a three-day survey of the island from late last month to early this month and formally released their results in Tokyo on Thursday.

Tao Foundation executive director Sutej Hugu urged the AEC to mark polluted areas, inform residents about the risks, discover the source of the radiation, inspect the nuclear waste storage facility, find out those who should be held responsible for the leak, remove the storage facility and thoroughly clean the site.

In response, AEC Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) said at a separate setting that the council did not find unusual levels of radiation during its latest survey, which was carried out earlier this month.

He added, however, that to allay worries from the public, the council would conduct another survey next month and will invite lawmakers to travel along.

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