Taipower unwilling to confirm nuclear waste disposal site choices

Taipei-- State-run utility Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) declined Monday to confirm a media report that it has selected four candidate sites for disposal of nuclear waste, saying that its two reports submitted to the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) do not touch on the site issue.

According to a front-page report in Monday's edition of the United Daily News, a proposal submitted by Taipower last year about building a nuclear waste storage facility on an uninhabited island near Taiwan has gained approval from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), and Taipower has selected four candidate sites for the purpose, which are under the jurisdiction of Keelung City, the offshore island counties of Kinmen, Lienchiang (the Matsu Islands) and Penghu, respectively.

Taiwan has stored its low-level solidified radioactive waste on Orchid Island for 35 years. The site began to operate in May 1982 and stopped accepting additional nuclear waste in April 1996. Nearly 100,000 barrels of nuclear waste are currently stored in 23 trenches on the island.

The AEC, a government agency under the Executive Yuan, fined Taipower NT$10 million (US$322,400) last year for failure to honor its promise to relocate nuclear waste stored on Orchid Island and demanded that the state-run company submit two reports regarding nuclear waste disposal.

A report about its relocation plan was submitted to the AEC last year, while the outline of a feasibility study on building centralized facilities for disposal of nuclear waste was also submitted to the AEC last year, with some revisions still being made. A complete report is expected to be submitted to the MOEA in the near future.

Asked whether the state-run utility has selected any of the four possible sites for disposal of nuclear waste, Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (???) declined to elaborate, saying that the two reports do not include the site issue.

Lin said that the two reports were made public online earlier this year and reviews are scheduled to be completed by Feb. 15.

The Executive Yuan decided in November last year to set up a task force to promote making Taiwan nuclear-free and hopes the site selection will be handled by the task force after consensus is achieved in society.

However, the task force has not yet been formed.

The central government has not responded to the news report, but the Penghu and Keelung local governments named in the article on Monday expressed strong opposition to choosing sites in their localities for nuclear waste disposal.

Penghu Magistrate Chen Kuang-fu (???) said that during his tenure, he will not let such a thing happen.

Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (???) also said he strongly opposes the idea of dumping nuclear waste in Keelung.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel