Tue, Jul 30, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Government panned for nuclear waste decisions

BYPASSED:Activists said the government just wants them to endorse its policies, adding that it has often delayed removal of hazardous waste from Orchid Island

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Before meeting with Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) in Taipei yesterday afternoon, members of local civic groups living near nuclear waste storage sites said that they are dissatisfied with the government’s unilateral decisionmaking process and urged it to have real negotiations with the public.

The groups — from New Taipei City (新北市), Lanyu (蘭嶼, also known as Orchid Island), and Taitung and Pintung counties — said in front of the Executive Yuan that during their first meeting with Jiang on April 3, he promised to establish a negotiation forum comprised of government and civic representatives to discuss policies for final disposal of radioactive spent fuel.

However, Taitung Anti-Nuclear Alliance Secretary-General Su Ya-ting (蘇雅婷) said there were no communications regarding the forum for several months afterward, and when the alliance finally received a notice for yesterday’s meeting, its agenda had already been set.

“We feel as if the government has already decided the policies and we are only being asked to come and endorse their plans,” Su said, while showing a copy of the meeting agenda.

“Moreover, while Minister Without Portfolio Steven Chen (陳士魁) was assigned as the forum’s convener, he has been transferred to another position, leaving us even more concerned about whether the forum can really function,” she added.

Sinan Mavivo, secretary-general of the Tao Foundation, said people living in Lanyu are very concerned about the low-level nuclear waste which has been stored on the island since 1981, but the Ministry of Economic Affairs has kept delaying its removal and refused to reconvene its steering committee for the Lanyu storage site’s relocation.

“We ask the government, Taiwan Power Co and the ministry to remove the nuclear waste immediately,” she said. “We don’t need them to talk about formulating a new schedule for relocation and related inspections; we just ask them to remove it now.”

Green Party Taiwan member Wang Chung-ming (王鐘銘) said the government has failed to finalize locations for building permanent nuclear waste repositories for the past seven years, but has kept using the matter as an excuse to postpone the promised removal of nuclear waste from Lanyu.

The party urged the government to decouple the two issues and deal with the Lanyu storage facility’s relocation immediately.

Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance chairperson Hsu Fu-hsiung (許富雄) said a dry cask storage facility for highly radioactive spent fuel waste from the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen District (石門), New Taipei City (新北市), is due to go into testing next month, but the alliance fears that salt corrosion may cause radioactive leaks because the storage site is near the ocean.

Although Taipower has claimed the site is only for temporary storage, local residents are concerned that once spent fuel rods are placed in storage, there may be no likelihood of Taipower moving them to a final disposal site, Hsu said. He added that residents should be allowed to decide whether they want the facility in the area via a referendum.

“It is a fact that disposal of nuclear waste is an intractable problem in Taiwan, so we want to tell the government that while the problem remains unresolved, it shouldn’t allow nuclear power plants to operate, as they are adding to disposal problems,” Wang said.

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