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Nuclear waste hearing ends in opposition to Taitung site

Nuclear waste hearing ends in opposition to Taitung site

A public hearing discussing the possibility of storing low-grade nuclear waste in a Taitung County village ended on a note of strong opposition yesterday after two protesters had been taken away by police.
After years of controversy and protests, the government decided to select Nantien Village in the county's Tajen Township as one of the possible disposal sites for low-radioactive waste from its three existing nuclear power stations.
The Taitung County Council yesterday invited representatives from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, from state utility Taiwan Power Corporation and from groups of local residents to discuss the issue at a public hearing.
According to the official proposal, each locality chosen as a potential site will have to organize a referendum, but the Taitung County Council has repeatedly failed to pass the necessary legislation.
Participants in yesterday's hearing voiced strong opposition to the Tajen site. The area was geologically unstable, making it unsuitable to provide a permanent home for the low-radioactive materials, geologist Chiang Kuo-chang said.
The chairman of the county's tourism association, Yang Wen-ta, said the issue was larger than just Tajen and concerned not only environmentalists and the local aboriginal population, but the whole of Taitung County.
Before the hearing got under way, an organic farmer carrying a banner with an anti-nuclear slogan was prevented entrance to the meeting and shown into a police vehicle. An environmental activist who came outside to ask about the situation was also forced into the car and taken to a police station, reports said. Both said they were kept at the precinct office for two hours.
Power originally stored its waste on Orchid Island, a remote island off southeast Taiwan mainly inhabited by aboriginals.