Taipei, April 17 (CNA) State-owned Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) said Tuesday that it will halt a geological exploration project in Hualien County following allegations that the company intends to store radioactive waste from the country's nuclear power plants there.
Hualien Magistrate Fu Kun-chi criticized Taipower at a press conference that day for not notifying the local government before it launched the project near the remote town of Sioulin.
Opposition lawmakers alleged a day earlier that the project was to pave the way for building a nuclear waste storage facility there.
Storing nuclear waste in Hualien would kill the county's tourism sector, Fu said, adding that it also defies the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law and the rights of indigenous people who live in the region.
However, Kao Yang-sheng, chief of the Executive Yuan's liaison office in eastern Taiwan, said Taipower's project was only aimed at studying the long-term geological stability of the granite rocks there.
Meanwhile that day, Taipower reiterated in a press statement that the project had nothing to do with radioactive waste storage.
The company said it would like to apologize to local residents for failing to conduct efficient communication with them and said the project will be halted until the company reaches an agreement with local residents.
In terms of picking a site to build nuclear waste storage facilities, Taipower plans to announce two proposed locations -- Kinmen's Wuciou Township and Taitung's Daren Township -- in an official statement to be released in May, the company added.
If a referendum to approve the selection, an environmental impact assessment and construction of the facilities can all be conducted smoothly, all the low-level radioactive nuclear waste currently stored on the outlying island of Lanyu will be relocated to the new site in 2025, it said.
(By Andrew Liu, Lin Meng-ju and Jamie Wang)