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June 23, 2017

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Taipower mum on relocation of radioactive waste

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipower has refused to comment on reports that it's planning to relocate controversial nuclear waste storage sites on Orchid Island to uninhabited islands of Keelung, Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu.

Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu would say only that the state-owned utility had submitted two reports to the Atomic Energy Council and that candidate sites for waste from the country's nuclear power plants were not listed in the reports.

Local media claimed this weekend that radioactive waste from Orchid Island would be transferred to the four new areas, reporting that the Economics Ministry had approved the plan following six months of investigation.

The government has repeatedly promised that the waste would be removed from the island off Taitung County, but past failures to do so have drawn widespread protests both on the island and in Taipei.

The island is inhabited by nearly 5,000 residents, over half of whom are of the indigenous Tao people.

The government's committee for achieving a "nuclear-free homeland" had convened last November and formed a task force for discussions on the matter of nuclear waste, Lin said.

Principles of transparency, fairness and "forming a social consensus" would be used in determining the fate of the 100,000 barrels of nuclear waste currently stored on Orchid Island, he added.

President Tsai Ing-wen said last August that removing the waste from Orchid Island was a top priority for her administration.

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