The Atomic Energy Council (AEC) yesterday said it would seek “all possible judicial remedies” to overturn a Supreme Administrative Court ruling exempting Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) from paying a NT$30 million (US$1 million) fine for failing to remove low-level nuclear waste from Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼).
“It was regrettable that the court ruled in favor of Taipower,” the council said. “The court apparently cited the wrong regulations and failed to take into account key evidence that could affect the ruling. We believe that certain issues remain unexplained and unclarified through judicial procedures, and on May 5, we filed an appeal to overturn the ruling.”
“As the producer of nuclear waste, Taipower should properly dispose of it based on a designated timeline. We will exhaust all judicial remedies to prevent the power company from leaving the nuclear waste for the next generation,” it said.
As the state-run company failed by the end of March 2016 to propose sites for relocating the nuclear waste on Orchid Island, the council fined Taipower NT$10 million in August 2016. In November 2017, it fined Taipower NT$30 million for years of inaction regarding the disposal of the nuclear waste.
In its defense, Taipower said that the Ministry of Economic Affairs had in 2012 announced that Taitung County’s Daren Township (達仁) and Kinmen County’s Wuciou Township (烏坵) were potential storage sites for low-level nuclear waste.
However, the two county governments have refused to hold referendums on the ministry’s proposal, it said, adding that the ministry should not be blamed for the delay in relocating the nuclear waste.
Taipower said that it did not break the law when it dismissed an ad hoc task force that was created to communicate with the residents in Taitung County, allowing them to return to work at its nuclear back-end management department.
The task force was dismissed in response to the ministry’s plan to reform state-run corporations, it said, adding that the move was also approved by the ministry.
The company was exempted from the NT$30 million fine after the Taipei High Administrative Court and Supreme Administrative Court ruled in its favor.
The Supreme Administrative Court said in its ruling that the timeline for communicating with the residents should be determined based on progress made in selecting potential nuclear waste storage sites, over which Taipower had no control.
“Even though the ministry approved Taipower’s proposed sites, the implementation and progress of the plan cannot be completely decided by Taipower, nor does the ministry have the right to order Taipower to cooperate,” it said.
As for Taipower’s NT$10 million fine, the Taipei High Administrative Court in April 2018 ruled that the company was exempt from paying it.
After the verdict was appealed, the Supreme Administrative Court in December 2019 abolished the Taipei High Administrative Court’s ruling and returned the case to the High Administrative Court for a retrial. The High Administrative Court has yet to hand down a verdict in the second trial.
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