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June 27, 2017

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Taipower workers handled nuclear waste tanks with bare hands: DPP

An opposition lawmaker yesterday lashed out at state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) for showing complete disregard for human life by having workers deal with corroded nuclear waste storage tanks with their bare hands in a storage field on the Orchid Island.

Lawmaker Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made the criticism at an education committee session yesterday morning. Cheng played a film showing rusted nuclear waste storage tanks lying about on a storage field on the offshore Orchid Island. The film showed workers dealing with the rusted tanks without wearing any protection equipment.

When asked by Cheng whether there was radiation leakage from the corroded storage tanks, Tsai Chuen-horng, minister of the Atomic Energy Council under the Cabinet, said he cannot judge from the film whether there was radioactive exposure from the rusted storage tank.

But when asked if Taipower properly conducted a negative pressure isolation operation in dealing with the storage tanks, Tsai said that "it looks not."

Tsai told Cheng that his council staffers are investigating Taipower's record with nuclear safety. Tsai added that his council would determine whether to punish Taipower only after the completion of an investigation.

Earlier in the morning, Cheng and another DPP lawmaker Lin Shu-fen held a press conference to question Taipower's efforts in handling the storage of nuclear waste on the Orchid Island. They showed film footage of workers conducting a nuclear waste packing job in a well-ventilated environment, in an attempt to prove that Taipower failed to allow workers to operate in a negative-pressure isolated environment as is required by regulation.

The DPP lawmakers said Taipower and Atomic Energy Council previously issued misleading statements that the nuclear waste packing process won't lead to radiation leakage.

Lawmaker Cheng requested that the Atomic Energy Council conduct thorough investigations into the case and punish related Taipower officials in charge.

Cheng also called for the government to conduct free physical examinations for all residents on Orchid Island.

In response, Taipower reiterated yesterday that, based on all the radiation tests taken so far, there has been no radiation leakage found in the nuclear waste storage field on Orchid Island. Accordingly, residents on Orchid Island won't see their health affected.

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