Wed, Mar 09, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Experts call for legislation to move radioactive waste

‘CASH MACHINE’:The head of an Orchid Island group said funding for health inspections on the island went to epidemiology research instead of toward healthcare

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin, second left, standing, and others attend a panel in Taipei yesterday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster and the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Photo: Yang Mian-chieh, Taipei Times

Experts said legislation on nuclear waste policy is the first step to realize an overdue promise to relocate low-level radioactive waste stored on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), as issues of radioactive waste took center stage at a panel discussion at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

The panel, held ahead of an annual anti-nuclear parade on Saturday, was hosted by the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform to mark the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster and the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said nuclear waste treatment is at the heart of this year’s anti-nuclear campaign, because there is still no consensus on the issue between major parties and the public, even though years of campaigning have resulted in growing support for nuclear-free development and the sealing of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮).

Orchid Island-based Tao Foundation chief executive Sinan Mavivo said Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) has continued to illegally run a nuclear waste depository on the island long after the expiration of a lease between the company and the Lanyu Township Office.

Island residents began to demand relocation of the site in 1991, and in 1999, when former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was still a presidential candidate, a promise was made to complete the relocation by 2002, but nuclear waste has remained there and authorities have not taken any action, Mavivo said.

“Removing nuclear waste from Orchid Island will not be accomplished unless the Legislative Yuan passes the necessary laws and establishes a removal budget. Anything else is fake,” Mavivo said.

Following requests to conduct a health inspection of island residents, the Ministry of Health and Welfare allocated a NT$64 million (US$1.95 million) budget, which was later used to fund epidemiology research, but no residents have received a health examination funded with the ministry’s money, she said.

“It is as if Orchid Island has become a cash machine, and the money is shared between the Taiwanese government and its research agencies,” she said, asking the legislature to pass a compensation bill and to establish healthcare and tracking programs.

Tokyo-based Taiwanese writer Liu Li-erh (劉黎兒) said more than 300,000 people were evacuated from Fukushima when the disaster happened, and there are 100,000 people who refuse to return to the prefecture due to doubts over the effectiveness of a government-funded decontamination program, even after trillions of yen have been spent on cleanup.

Taipower has underestimated the cost of radioactive waste management, as a bundle of spent fuel rods costs tens of millions of New Taiwan dollars, and there would be 23,000 used fuel rods that require storage in 2025 when the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County is scheduled for deactivation, she said, calling for an earlier decommissioning of nuclear plants before a disaster occurs.

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