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Radioactive substances detected on Lanyu 'not hazardous': Taipower

2011/11/29 21:20:29

Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) The state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) said Tuesday that two radioactive substances had been detected outside its nuclear waste storage site on Lanyu, an island off southeastern Taiwan, but said the detected doses were small and posed no health hazard.

Taipower spokesman Roger Lee told CNA that cobalt 60 and caesium 137 were detected outside the storage site.

The storage site is designed to allow zero radioactive leakage and operates strict measures when handling nuclear waste shipped from Taiwan proper, Lee said.

According to Lee, the only possibility of a leak would be if, during the process of replacing the aging storage barrels, dust in the air floated from the plant to the outside before being taken by rain to the ground and then draining away to outside the storage compound.

However, he said the company has doubts such a possibility because the barrel replacement was only conducted within a well-enclosed space. "It is supposed to prevent any leaks," he said.

Lee said the company will continue its review of the barrel replacement process, which began in 2007 and was completed Nov. 26, to see if there were loopholes in the process.

In the meantime, the company will take measures as soon as possible to install filters in the water drainage pipes connecting the storage compound to the outside area to intercept any possible radioactive leakage, Lee said.

According to Taipower, since the Lanyu storage site was inaugurated in 1982, 100,000 barrels of nuclear waste have been shipped there.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Elizabeth Hsu)