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Nuclear waste dump site on isolated island 'impossible': councilor

2012/05/28 21:06:25

Taipei, May 28 (CNA) Kinmen County Councilor Hsu Yu-chao voiced strong opposition Monday to locating a planned low-level nuclear waste storage site on an island township 72 nautical miles northeast of Kinmen, saying such a proposition is "impossible."

"People in Wuciou Township are not so naive that they can be fooled by Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower)," she said at a council hearing, insistent that the establishment of a nuclear waste facility on the remote island in the Taiwan Strait, which is part of Kinmen County, was not going to happen.

Kinmen County Magistrate Li Wo-shi responded that there are people opposing the plan and others supporting it, and he could not tell where the final dump site would be located.

Deputy Economics Minister Lin Sheng-chung visited Li on May 21 and said Taipower will announce in an official statement in late May that Wuciou and Daren Township in Taitung have been chosen as the proposed locations for a nuclear waste site.

Local referendums to approve the selection are scheduled for June 2013, Lin said.

People reject the idea of having low-level nuclear waste stored near them only because it is "nuclear" related, but low-level nuclear waste actually generates less radiation than that emitted by an X-ray, he said.

In contrast to the opposition voiced by the representative from Wuciou, Lin said the chief and residents of Daren Township welcomed the idea of building the dump site in their region.

Some people there even suggested that Taipower skip the official statement and referendum and build the site in the town immediately.

Just holding a valid referendum in Wuciou, composed of two small islets not far off the coast of Fujian province, could be problematic.

The township has a registered population of 560, but only around 60 people actually live there. At least half of Wuciou's registered voters would have to return to the township and vote in the referendum for it to be valid.

Taipower said in mid-April that if the referendums, an environmental impact assessment and construction of the facilities can all be conducted smoothly, the low-level radioactive nuclear waste currently stored on Orchid Island off Taiwan's southeastern coast will be relocated to the new site in 2025.

(By Chen Shou-gow and Jamie Wang)