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Nuclear waste disposal contract with North Korea invalid: Taipower

2013/03/04 20:54:42

Taipei, March 4 (CNA) State-run utility Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) said Monday that it does not have to compensate North Korea for breaking a contract to have the country dispose of Taiwan's nuclear waste because the contract never took effect and has expired.

North Korea reportedly has sued Taipower for damages of NT$300 million (US$10.1 million) for breaking the contract inked more than 16 years ago.

Under the US$75.66 million deal signed with the North Korean government in 1997, Taipower was to send 60,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste to a disposal site in Pyongsan County in the Communist country.

North Korea was required to issue a permit allowing Taipower to export nuclear waste to the country, while Taipower was obligated to apply for nuclear waste export permits from Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council (AEC).

North Korea failed to meet the AEC's request that it follow the Taiwanese government's rule of "finishing construction first prior to a site evaluation," said Huang Tian-huang, a Taipower deputy director.

Taipower also failed to obtain a permit from the AEC to export nuclear waste overseas, Huang added.

As a result, the contract never went into effect.

In 2004, the North Korean government asked Taiwan's Public Construction Commission to mediate the dispute, but the two sides failed to reach a consensus because they refused to make concessions.

Huang said Taipower had yet to receive any written documents indicating that Pyongyang was seeking compensation for breach of contract.

(By Lin Meng-ru and Y.L. Kao)