Taiwan Power Corp. stops nuclear waste tests in Hualien County

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Taiwan Power Corporation decided to stop geological tests for the storage of nuclear waste in Hualien County after opposition there, reports said Tuesday.
The statement, made by a central government representative in the eastern region after a phone call to Taipower officials, followed the public opposition to the project voiced by Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi.
The state-run utility has been searching for a place to store the low-grade waste from its three nuclear plants after decades of protests by the Tao indigenous population of Orchid Island against the local storage. Activists have blamed a high incidence of cancer on the sparsely populated island in the southeast on the presence of the waste.
Fu accused Taipower of conducting tests in Hoping Village, Hsiulin Township, without notifying his county government. The secrecy also extended to official company documents, which only identified the location of the tests as ‘East Taiwan,’ Fu said.
If the company did go ahead with the storage of waste in Hsiulin, it would affect the rights of the indigenous population and damage tourism, one of the region’s main sources of income, the magistrate said.
The state-run utility, which is already under fire for the imminent rise in electricity rates, apologized and said the tests were only aimed at researching the geological stability of the soil in the Hsiulin area.
Taipower is still building a fourth nuclear plant on Taiwan’s north coast, in Kungliao, New Taipei City, despite rising concern after the March 11, 2011 tsunami which hit the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
Opponents, who have tried to stop the construction of the project for decades, have voiced grave doubts about its safety, partly because of earthquakes and the proximity of the capital Taipei.