Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Nuclear waste site years away: official

PREMATURE OBJECTIONS:An official with the agency responsible for storing nuclear waste told angry Yilan County residents that many sites are being considered

Staff writer, with CNA

No decision has been made on the location of a permanent nuclear waste disposal site, an official said on Monday, after residents of Nanao Township (南澳) in Yilan County reacted angrily to speculation that their town was being considered.

The search remains in its initial stage, which is focused on evaluating the quality of potential “host rock” for nuclear waste repositories, said Lee Hsiao-tung (李肖宗), the head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs office responsible for nuclear waste storage.

Lee said that the high-level radioactive waste disposal plan proposed by state-run utility and nuclear power plant operator Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) is divided into five stages, with the project’s completion set for 2055.

In the current stage, set to end in 2017, the goal is to study and evaluate underground rock strata that would be suitable for hosting and storing nuclear waste, Lee said.

The second stage, aimed at choosing candidate sites and determining the most suitable one, is not to begin until 2018.

“No one can say now that Nanao is the ultimate place [for the permanent nuclear waste disposal site],” Lee said in a presentation of the nuclear waste disposal site selection plan held at Yilan County Hall.

The presentation was attended by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇), Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀), as well as government officials, Taipower executives, Yilan County officials and representatives of Yilan residents.

Nuclear power regulator the Atomic Energy Council said that several sites are being evaluated, including areas on the island groups of Kinmen and Matsu.

However, Yilan County Environmental Protection Bureau director Chen Teng-chin (陳登欽) said none of the sites that were studied in Kinmen and Matsu are suitable for a permanent disposal site because of the small scale of their rock beds.

Given that Taipower has conducted drilling tests in Hualien County’s Sioulin Township (秀林) near Nanao, all signs point to the Nanao region, which covers a river valley plain south of Suao Township (蘇澳), as the final choice, Chen added.

“Don’t even think” of that chance, Nanao Township official Chiang Ming-shun (江明順) said, adding that residents strongly oppose the idea.

Tien, an Yilan native, threatened to launch a “war” if the Nanao region is chosen as the site.

“We will fight until the end,” she said.

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