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Taiwan lacks social consensus on nuclear waste disposal: Taipower

2017/02/13 19:44:17

CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 13 (CNA) State-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), which operates three nuclear power plants in Taiwan, has pinpointed a lack of social consensus, rather than needed technologies, as the hurdle impeding the task of finding a new site for the storage of the country's nuclear waste.

"Technically it would not be a problem to conduct consolidated storage. The biggest difficulty is to achieve social consensus," said Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (林德福) Monday when answering questions from reporters about the selection of possible locations to accommodate a new consolidated interim storage facility.

The issue was brought up amid increasing protests from residents of the outlying island of Lanyu calling for the relocation of 100,000 barrels of low-level solidified radioactive waste that have been stored on their land for 35 years.

In addition, the first and second nuclear power plants on Taiwan proper are under pressure, as their storage capacity for used fuel rods will run out by next year, at which time they could possibly be forced to stop operations if no new storage sites can be located.

Earlie Monday, a local newspaper reported that Taipower has selected four candidate sites for the purpose of waste disposal -- uninhabited islets that are under the jurisdiction of Keelung City, and the offshore island counties of Kinmen, Lienchiang (the Matsu Islands) and Penghu, respectively.

Lin, however, rebutted the report, saying that no candidate sites have been proposed.

Nevertheless, Lin said it is "known to all" that those islets off northern Keelung, Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu are the only possible places for such a facility in Taiwan.

He called for the government to establish a platform on which discussions can be held on the controversial issue so that eventually, consensus can be reached.

In response, Vice Economics Minister Yang Wei-fuu (楊偉甫) said that a Cabinet team in charge of the promotion of a nuclear-free homeland policy will be tasked with conducting policy communications on the nuclear waste disposal issue.

The government will also draw up a plan for setting up an administrative institution for the implementation of nuclear waste disposal measures, Yang said, noting that such a unit will need the approval of the Legislature, which he expects will discuss the proposal in its current session.

(By Huang Ya-chuan and Elizabeth Hsu)