Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) An initial probe into allegations that an Italian businessman helped North Korea dump radioactive nuclear waste in the ocean near Taiwan came up with inconclusive findings, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said Friday.
Italian media recently cited declassified documents from an Italian intelligence service as saying that Giorgio Comerio, an international trafficker in nuclear materials, allegedly disposed of 200,000 barrels of North Korean radioactive waste in the ocean near Taiwan in the 1990s. The reports said he earned US$227 million for doing so.
AEC Vice Minister Chiu Sze-tsung (邱賜聰) said that its task force found that "the reports could not be confirmed,' and could be a case of anachronism on the part of the Italian intelligence service due to Taiwan's state-run Taipower company's plan at that time to ship 200,000 barrels of radioactive waste to North Korea.
But Chiu said the possibility that this indeed happened could not be ruled out completely and the council will continue to push for radioactive level monitoring and investigation in the Taiwan Strait.
Based on the available information, "we could not rule out the possibility completely," and will continue the monitoring in the Taiwan Strait, Chiu said.
According to AEC data, monitoring of the radiation level in waters near Keelung and Kaohsiung show the level is normal.
Radiation level tests of marine life offshore and in fish markets have also been normal, although the AEC lacks information on radiation level in the Taiwan Strait, Chiu said.
However, the International Atomic Energy Agency has not found any abnormal levels of radiation in the Taiwan Strait based on its data, said Chiu.
Chiu added that the AEC has yet to access the declassified documents from Italy, but personnel stationed overseas have continued to make efforts on the matter.
He stated that Taiwan has not sent any barrels of radioactive wastes overseas and all wastes are now being stored in the outlying Orchid Island or within the first, second, and the third nuclear power plants.
A civic group has meanwhile accused the AEC of attempting to hoodwink the public.
Green Consumers' Foundation Chairman Jay Fang (方儉) asked how the AEC could give its initial finding without having access to the declassified documents.
(By Huang Li-yun, Milly Lin and Lilian Wu)