Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) yesterday blasted the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) and Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) after a report confirmed Taipower’s serious nuclear waste repackaging error on Lanyu (蘭嶼), also known as Orchid Island.
“If the AEC and Taipower fail to handle nuclear waste well, nuclear safety in Taiwan is over,” Cheng told a press conference in the legislature.
Cheng on Oct. 25 accused Taipower of malpractice in its examination and repackaging of corroded waste drums at the storage facility on the island as the process was carried out in the open, which could lead to radiation leakage.
The storage facility, built in 1982 by the government without prior consultation and communication with Lanyu residents, stopped receiving nuclear waste in 1996.
The AEC denied Cheng’s accusation the same day, saying the photos the lawmakers showed at a press conference were “old photographs” and there were no safety concerns because the entire process was carried out in an enclosed area.
However, an AEC report on the incident released on Wednesday confirmed the error and the council ruled it a fourth-degree violation and reprimanded Taipower.
AEC Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) apologized for the malpractice in a budget-screening session of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday.
Tsai was lambasted by the lawmakers for covering up Taipower’s mistakes, with Cheng saying that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted since the AEC and Taipower have raised doubts about their capability to ensure safety.
The committee reached a consensus to freeze one-third of the AEC’s general administration budget and demanded that the council conduct a thorough investigation of the incident, as well as monitor local residents’ health.