Taipei, April 3 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah promised anti-nuclear waste activists Wednesday that Lanyu, or Orchid Island, home to the aboriginal Tao tribe, will not always be a storage site for nuclear waste from Taiwan proper.
In a meeting with members of several anti-nuclear waste organizations, Jiang also pledged to review a compensation mechanism set up by the state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), the country's nuclear power plant operator, to "feedback" to people living in close proximity to where nuclear waste is stored, according to Cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wun.
In addition, Jiang instructed that evacuation drills for people living close to nuclear power plants are crucial and must be conducted thoroughly, and that information on nuclear safety must be made public and transparent, Cheng said.
The premier also designated ministers without portfolio to be the Cabinet's window for anti-nuclear activists and residents of areas housing nuclear power plants and nuclear waste dump sites.
Members of various anti-nuclear groups, including the Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Motion Alliance, the Taitung Nuclear Abolition and Anti-Nuclear Waste Alliance and the Tao Foundation, visited Jiang at the Executive Yuan to voice their appeals, including a demand that the government admit there has been absolutely no resolution on nuclear waste disposal.
Other appeals included using the term "compensation" rather than the euphemistic "feedback" to describe the money given by Taipower to people living near nuclear waste dumps; launching an investigation of government officials who should be held responsible for improper nuclear waste management practices; and having high-ranking officials discuss and map out ways to resolve the nuclear waste predicament, according to Cheng.
Before the meeting, the activists said in front of the Executive Yuan that "no resident in any area of Taiwan will accept nuclear waste" and that "Taiwan is not capable of handling nuclear waste."
Tao Foundation Secretary-General Sinan Mavivo expressed hope that a 2016 deadline for the relocation of the Lanyu nuclear waste storage site will not be linked to the selection of the place the radioactive waste will be stored for good.
"We hope all the nuclear waste (stored in Lanyu) will be relocated off the island by 2016, as the government has promised," she said.
Currently, there are nearly 90,000 barrels of nuclear waste buried on Lanyu. Because of ever-stronger protests by residents, however, nuclear waste from the three operating nuclear power plants in Taiwan is currently stored at the facilities themselves. By Kelven Huang and Elizabeth Hsu)