Groups opposed to nuclear energy yesterday urged the Atomic Energy Council to revoke a construction permit it issued to Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) to build a radioactive waste dry storage facility in New Taipei City, following a Supreme Administrative Court ruling that the construction project does not meet environmental regulations.
Local residents filed two lawsuits in 2014 and 2015 against the construction project, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association lawyer Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅) told a news conference in Taipei.
While they lost one lawsuit challenging the legality of the construction permit in January, they won the other on the legality of the project’s environmental impact assessment approval last month, Tsai said.
According to the May 23 ruling, Taipower has modified its construction plan, which would no longer meet the requirements detailed in its environmental impact assessment report, she said.
The residents plan to file for a retrial on the legality of the construction permit with the Taipei High Administrative Court, which had ruled in favor of the company on the grounds that the project had passed an environmental impact assessment, she added.
“However, we would like to urge the council to take the initiative and revoke the construction permit for the facility according to Article 128 of the Administrative Procedure Act (行政程序法) to prevent more judicial resources from being wasted,” Tsai said.
Under Taipower’s plan, the facility is to be built inside the compound of the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里) and used to store the plant’s spent fuel rods after it is decommissioned.
Residents are concerned that the company might not have the appropriate technologies and personnel for radioactive waste management to ensure their safety, said North Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance chief executive Kuo Ching-lin (郭慶霖), who lives between the Guosheng plant and the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen District (石門).
“My house is 7km from the Jinshan plant and 5km from the Guoshang plant,” Kuo said.
The plan to store the waste in dry casks outdoors means it would be exposed to the elements, he said.
Taipower’s choice of concrete casks, instead of metal ones, further increases the risks, as changes in their content’s radioactivity cannot be detected, he added.
“We hope Taipower can suspend its plan to build an outdoor storage facility and re-evaluate the possibility of building only indoor ones, which are safer,” Kuo said.
If Taiwan is serious about building a “nuclear power-free homeland” by 2025, it must have better technology for radioactive waste disposal, he said.
New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) — a New Taipei City resident and one of the plaintiffs — said the government has handled the matter irresponsibly.
“The way the executive branch has been handling the matter shows it could not care less. Officials ignored the requests of residents, forcing them to seek help from volunteer lawyers and spend years filing lawsuits, only to be granted a fraction of the justice they deserve,” Huang said.
He urged the government to take concrete action to ensure the safety of local residents and called on two New Taipei City mayoral candidates — New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of the Democratic Progressive Party — to state their views on the issue.
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