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Nuke waste disposal site call years away: official

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- No decision has been made on the location of a permanent nuclear waste disposal site, an official said Monday, after residents of Nan'ao Township in Yilan County reacted angrily to speculation that their town was being considered for the site.

The search remains in its initial stage, which is focused on evaluating the quality of potential “host rock” for nuclear waste repositories, said Lee Hsiao-tung, the head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs office responsible for nuclear waste storage.

Lee explained that the high-level radioactive waste disposal plan proposed by state-run utility and nuclear power plant operator Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) is divided into five stages, with the project's completion set for 2055.

In the current stage that concludes in 2017, the goal is to study and evaluate underground rock strata that would be suitable for hosting and storing nuclear waste, Lee said.

The second stage, aimed at choosing candidate sites and determining the most suitable one, will not begin until 2018.

“No one can say now that Nan'ao is the ultimate place” for the nuclear waste disposal site, Lee said in a presentation of the nuclear waste disposal site selection plan held at Yilan County Hall.

The presentation was attended by opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers Tien Chiu-chin, Hsiao Bi-khim and Chen Ou-po, government officials, Taipower executives, Yilan County officials and representatives of Yilan residents.

According to the Atomic Energy Council, the country's top nuclear power regulator, several potential host rock areas are being evaluated, including the granite strata of the Taiwan-controlled island groups of Kinmen and Matsu and rock formations in the greater Nan'ao area in southern Yilan County.

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