Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear dumping inquiry inconclusive

Staff Writer, with CNA

Investigations into allegations that an Italian businessman helped North Korea to dump radioactive nuclear waste in the ocean near Taiwan have been inconclusive, the Atomic Energy Council said on Friday.

Italian media cited declassified documents from an Italian intelligence service as saying that Giorgio Comerio, who is suspected of trafficking nuclear materials, allegedly disposed of 200,000 barrels of North Korean radioactive waste in the ocean near Taiwan in the 1990s and was paid US$227 million.

Council Vice Minister Chiou Syh-tsong (邱賜聰) said that the reports could not be confirmed and could be a mistake on the part of the Italian intelligence service, as state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) in the 1990s planned to ship 200,000 barrels of radioactive waste to North Korea.

However, Chiu said the possibility that the barrels were dumped near Taiwan could not be ruled out and the council would continue to push for radiation monitoring in the Taiwan Strait.

Based on the available information, “we could not rule out the possibility of dumping and will continue to monitor the Taiwan Strait,” Chiu said.

According to council data, radiation levels in waters near Keelung and Kaohsiung are normal.

Radiation tests of marine life offshore and in fish markets have also been normal, but the council does not have information on radiation levels in the Taiwan Strait, Chiu said.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency has not detected abnormal levels of radiation in the Taiwan Strait, Chiu said.

Chiu said that the council has not seen the declassified documents from Italy, but personnel stationed overseas have continued to work on the matter.

He said that Taiwan has not sent any radioactive waste overseas and all waste is stored on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) or within the nation’s three operational nuclear power plants.

A civic group accused the council of trying to hoodwink the public.

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