Wed, Nov 21, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Groups urge Lanyu radioactivity checks

DODGY TESTS:The Atomic Energy Council said that the devices used in previous radioactivity checks by Japanese experts had been affected by electromagnetic waves

By Chris Wang and Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporters

From left to right, Japanese academic Katsumi Nakao and Democratic Progressive Party legislators Lin Chia-lung and Liu Chao-hao hold a press conference in Taipei yesterday, accusing the Atomic Energy Council of falsely claiming that radiation levels on Orchid Island are safe.

Photo: CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers and several academics yesterday told a press conference that the nuclear radiation level in Lanyu (蘭嶼), also known as Orchid Island, was a serious concern and demanded a complete investigation into potential radiation threats on the island.

Katsumi Nakao of J.F. Oberlin University and Yoh Kato of Tokyo Metropolitan University, who were invited by the Atomic Energy Council to conduct radioactivity tests on the island on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, decried the detection results announced by the council, saying the real levels were significantly higher than those reported by the council.

The council yesterday reaffirmed the safety of the island, where a nuclear waste storage facility is located, after joint readings by Nakao, Kato and five Taiwanese professors.

It said the tests done by different units all showed that readings of radiation levels were within the variation of environmental background radiation, so tourists should not be worried about visiting the island.

The council said it had invited the Council of Indigenous Peoples, the Taitung County government, local representatives and environmentalists to the island to check radiation levels between Sept. 11 and Sept. 17, and also invited specialists from Taiwan and Japan along with specialists from the council’s Radiation Monitoring Center to test the environment radiation levels on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11.

It said that while Japanese specialists discovered abnormal levels of radiation around a cement wall in Langtao Village’s (朗島) former health center, the tests done by specialists from three Taiwanese units showed that radiation levels were within safety limits.

After analyzing the radiation testing devices used by the Japanese specialists on Friday, the council said it discovered that the devices might have been affected by electromagnetic waves from mobile phone base stations, so the readings did not effectively measure non-ionizing radiation leaked from nuclear waste on the island.

Both Kato and Nakao said the radiation level at Langtao Village detected by their equipment was “unusually high,” while the council said no abnormal data had been detected.

The Japanese professors later donated their detection equipment to Lanyu residents.

Taipei Medical University professor Chang Wu-shou (張武修), who was on the research team, said the council’s detection equipment was of questionable reliability.

DPP legislators Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪), Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) and Ho Shin-chun (何欣純) accused the council of lying to Lanyu residents.

In addition, Lin said that the council had lost its credibility.

“That was why they [Lanyu residents] would rather trust the Japanese professors than the government agencies,” Lin said.

Thirty years after the storage facility was built without prior consultation and communication with Lanyu residents, the government has yet to conduct a complete investigation of nuclear radiation on the island, Lin said.

With the council’s credibility in question, Liu Chao-hao said an independent institution or research team should be brought in to conduct a thorough inspection of radiation levels on the island.

The council was accused of malpractice concerning nuclear waste repackaging in Lanyu last month.

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