Report about dumping of nuclear waste in ocean near Taiwan inconclusive

Italian businessman might have dumped North Korean nuclear waste in 1995: AEC

(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – There is no evidence to show that an Italian businessman had 200,000 barrels of North Korean nuclear waste dumped in the ocean near Taiwan, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said Friday.

Earlier this month, documents by an Italian intelligence service were declassified, reportedly showing that businessman Giorgio Comerio allowed his ships to drop the radioactive waste into the water near Taiwan, Somalia and in the Mediterranean around 1995.

The AEC ordered an investigation but found no evidence that the events mentioned in the Italian documents actually occurred, according to a report published Friday.

Official releases by the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that the United States, Japan, South Korea, the Soviet Union and Russia had disposed of radioactive waste in the northern part of the Pacific, but nowhere near Taiwan, the AEC said.

Taiwan itself had never indulged in such practices, so on the surface, it did not look as if the ocean near the island had been contaminated, according to the AEC.

On the other hand, the possibility could not be entirely discarded, so the collection of information and the conducting of tests and inspections would continue, the government’s nuclear energy department said.

An interministerial taskforce had been entrusted with the job of expanding the tests further away from Taiwan’s coastlines and of monitoring any unusual radiation levels, the AEC said.

While the contents of the Italian documents could not be confirmed, they could not be dismissed entirely, the government warned.

Comerio began collaborating closely with the government of North Korea around 1995, the documents said. In return for US$227 million (NT$7 billion), he disposed of 200,000 barrels of radioactive waste, whose final resting place must be the ocean near Taiwan, the Italian intelligence reports said.