News Update of Radioactive Waste Dumpsite


Taipei, Jan. 13 (CNA) Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) signed a contract with the North Korean government Saturday on nuclear waste cooperation, marking a breakthrough in Taiwan's long-stalled search for permanent sites to store its low-grade radioactive waste.

The agreement, inked by a Taipower vice president in charge of nuclear energy and the executive officer of a North Korean state-owned company, allows Taipower to ship 60,000 barrels of low-grade radioactive waste over two years to North Korea for storage, said Taipower President S.C. Hsi on Monday.

The storage amount may increase to 200,000 barrels if the cooperation is found reciprocally satisfactory, Hsi noted.

Pyongyang first contacted Taipower some three months ago, offering a parcel of land near a North Korean seaport to Taipower for use as a nuke waste receptacle, according to Hsi.

The North Korean offer was viewed favorably by Taipower for the reasonable price, not-too-distant location, and the convenience of not needing to pass through a third country for the shipment, he explained.

Hsi, however, was tight-lipped regarding the amount Taipower would pay to Pyongyang under the deal, saying only that the price is more competitive than those offered by Russia, mainland China, and the Marshall Islands for similar cooperation.

According to Chen Fang-hsien, director of Taipower's Nuclear Backend Management Department, preparations for shipment of the low-grade toxins is under way, but the actual date of the initial shipment, some 5,000 barrels, is difficult to pinpoint as the two companies must first obtain export and import permits from their respective governments, which could take several months.

The agreement with North Korea will temporarily alleviate pressure on Taipower to procure desperately needed locations both overseas and domestically for disposal of nuclear waste. Currently, Taipower has accumulated a backlog of 188,000 barrels of solid and liquid low-grade radioactive waste, Chen said.

Welcome news has also come from Russia, according to Hsi. Negotiations with Russia are entering the final stage, and a draft cooperative agreement for radioactive waste disposal on Russian soil is expected to be forged soon after "cost" issues are settled between the two sides, he added. Hopefully, he said, the first shipment, also some 5,000 barrels of low-grade radioactive waste, will be delivered in the near future to a site near a Russian port in the Far East.

Talks with mainland China and the Marshall Islands for other potential overseas receptacles will continue, while efforts in seeking similar sites at home will proceed as the volume of low-grade radioactive waste may top one million barrels in the next few years, Hsi pointed out.

Organize People to Fight Against Nuclear Dumpsite

Reported to Nonuke Asian Forum 1996,

by Cheng-Yan Kao, Convener of Green Party Taiwan, 7/1996

The majority of Taiwan's nuclear waste is deposited on Orchid Island. The island receives nuclear wastes from nuclear power plants (90%) and medical, industrial, and agriculture industries. Now, Orchid Island is polluted with 97,672 barrels of toxic, nuclear waste. 440 barrels more, and the depository of the island is filled to capacity. Several thousand of the existing waste containers are rusted.

Orchid Island has been exploited as a nuclear waste depository since 1982. Instead of actually acknowledging it was preparing a nuclear waste dump, Taipower told the islanders that it was constructing a can factory. The original plan was to store the waste temporarily on land before disposing of it in the surrounding ocean. Thus, Orchid Island was chosen because of its easy access to the sea and its small human population. However, in 1983 and 1994, the London Treaty prohibited the dumping of nuclear waste into the ocean.

Anti-nuclear activity in Taiwan began in 1986 after the Chernobyl tragedy. On October 10,1986, many dissidents against the KMT government protested in front of Taipower Company against the building of Nuclear Power Plant 4 (NPP4). December 7, 1987 members of the Orchid Island's aboriginal Yami youth protested the Nuclear Commission's bribing aborigines with trips to Japan in order to decrease protests against nuclear radiation on Orchid Island. On February 20 1988, the Yami people held a large demonstration on Orchid Island: Repel the Nuclear Devil from Orchid Island. The newly formed TEPU (Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, 1987), sent the majority of their staff to join this demonstration. It was publicized by the media nationwide.

A similar demonstration occurred on February 20 of 1991, this time with four hundred Yami people and representatives of the environmental organizations. They walked on the site and asked Taipower not to enlarge the deposit site. They also petitioned for a date to be set by Taipower for the removal of their nuclear waste.

March 9, 1991 in the Legislative Yuan conducted a hearing dubbed Who wants the Nuclear Devil?! . Several scholars and Yami were present at the hearing. Aboriginal issues and the dangers of nuclear deposit sites were discussed at this hearing On May 30, 1993 TEPU held its annual anti-nuclear demonstration with ten thousand demonstrators. The demonstration opened with over twenty Yami elders marching in traditional dress of bamboo helmets, loincloths, and bamboo chest armor. They conducted an aboriginal dance in front of the Legislative Yuan to protest the nuclear waste dump on their island. The Yami people appeared on national news and forced the problems of nuclear dumping and potential genocide to be addressed.

It happened that Japan was pushing for the first NNAF immediately afterward; thus, the dire problem of the Yami people was reported in Japan. The same year, an English newsletter Nuclear Report from Taiwan began circulation. That Taipower built a nuclear waste dump in an aboriginal region was publicized worldwide. Taipower felt the international pressure.

May 19 & 20, 1995, Yami People Federation sent several people to Taipei to express their position against the Taipower's enlargement project for six more ditches for nuclear waste storage. A few days before the visit to Taipei, Yami aborigines pushed a large rock into the ocean in the attempt to block the Orchid Island harbor. They protested against Taipower, appeared in the Legislative Yuan public hearing and also asked Control Yuan officials to investigate the legality of Taipower's plan to enlarge the nuclear waste dump. In addition, they tried to see President Lee. Therefore, the nuclear waste dump enlargement project was suspended. Taipower promised to reduce the six ditches to two ditches.

April 26 of this year was the tenth anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. We, TEPU, began a new protest by holding a sit-in in front of the Legislative Yuan. We also held a gathering on April 26, 1996 called Donation to Help the Children of Chernobyl. Coincidentally, on the same night, Taipower's freighter containing 186 barrels of nuclear waste shipment was blocked from entering the Orchid Island harbor by the aboriginal Yami. Three days later, the ship was forced to return to northern Taiwan.

July 24, 1996 the Nuclear Convention decided not to send anymore nuclear waste to Orchid Island. The tiny space remaining in the nuclear dump was reserved for examining waste barrels for rust.

From 1987 to now, it has been almost nine years. The anti-nuclear waste movement in Orchid Island has almost succeeded. For the Yami people, the next job is to force Taipower to keep their promise to remove the nuclear waste from Orchid Island by 2002.

The anti- nuclear movement in Orchid Island will be a model for other anti-nuclear waste movements. The Yami characteristics are

In fact, the Orchid Island nuclear waste site is only part of the story. If one includes the operations of the planned NPP4 and the decommission of all the existing nuclear power plants, Taiwan will have one million barrels of low-and -mid-level nuclear waste, and 9,000 tons of spent fuel. The capacity of Orchid Island dumping site is only 100,000 barrels; about one tenth of Taiwan's possible low-and-mid-level nuclear waste.

Beside Orchid Island, Taipei county has more than 60,000 barrels deposited within Nuclear Power Plant Number One and Number Two. The real problem is the final deposit of these one million barrels of nuclear waste and the spent fuel. It is a looming trouble. In spring 1992, Taipower said it would announce the possible final depository sites of its nuclear waste by the end of the year. Yet year after year, announced no information about the final site at all.

This June, TEPU and legislator Ko announced thirty-nine possible deposit sites. These sites were located all over Taiwan island. Unbelievably, most of the sites were located in earthquake-prone areas like the eastern side of Taiwan. This list of possible final deposit sites has made the anti-nuclear waste movement far stronger in these areas like Keelung, Ilan, Hualien, Taipei, Taoyuan, Kaoshiung, Pintung, and Taitung. The strongest reaction was in Taipei county---the three villages of Kinshan, Shimen, and Guangli located between NPP1 1 and 2. After the nuclear wastes transportation ship was forced to come back on April 28, TEPU Northern coast local Chapter organized a demonstration on MAY 19 in front of nuclear power plat two with about one thousand demonstrators to protest that 30,000 barrels of nuclear waste were illegally deposited inside nuclear power plant 2.

Within these two months, the mayors of these three villages followed the suit of TEPU and each organized thousand people demonstrations to the NPP1 NPP2 protesting the storage of nuclear waste within the plant. The biggest reason behind their protest is NONE of the nuclear waste dumping facilities of the power plant passed the Environmental Impact Assessment as required by law. Because of their righteousness in the face of illegal actions, the demonstrations were very strong. However, an unlaudable act of this protest was that the villages asked for financial compensation of these illegal acts. Therefore, I am very worried that these activities will be shut out by Taipower when it offers more money.

For the final deposit of those one million barrels of nuclear waste, Taipower offers the so-called international treatment---meaning, they say they will transfer their nuclear waste to Russia, China or Marshall Islands. But this "international approach" was denied by those foreign countries, and so failed. Now Taipower offers a "financial compensation of nuclear waste final deposit site plan." They offer this opportunity with Taipower offering up to NT$3.2 billion as financial compensation to bribe poor villages to build final nuclear waste-treatment-deposit site. Now, any village mayor who offers willingness of accepting a dumping site will receive NT$5 million. This compensation does not even consider whether or not the village is suitable for nuclear waste deposits. We think that this ridiculous method cannot solve the final storage problem. We will organize people all over Taiwan to continue our protest . Thank you.

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