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Taipower should pay for Orchid Island health checks: Control Yuan
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-05-11 03:59 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Taiwan Power Corporation should pay for the health checks of the local population on Orchid Island, the main storage location for low-grade nuclear waste, the Control Yuan said Saturday.

The nation’s top government watchdog body entrusted one of its members, Huang Huang-hsiung with writing a report about the topic, long a source of controversy as residents of the remote island in Taitung County, mostly indigenous Tao people, have long protested against the health risks.

Since 1982, state-run Taipower has stored a total of 100,000 barrels of radioactive waste on the island, 88 percent of which came from the country’s three operating nuclear plants, Huang said.

At present, Taipower employees and contractors on the island received a complete medical checkup from the company once a year, while residents had only gradually been subjected to tests for radiation at the third nuclear plant in Pingtung County since 1999.

Taipower never agreed to local demands for full medical checkups or for the payment of insurance against cancer, Huang said. In contrast, from 2000 to 2002, the company subsidized then Taipei County to conduct wide-ranging tests on residents of Sanchih, Shihmen, Chinshan and Wanli, the coastal area where the first and second nuclear plants operate, he said.

The Control Yuan report stated the different treatments for northern residents and the people of Orchid Island amounted to discrimination. Huang suggested the Ministry of Economic Affairs should tell Taipower to subsidize relevant medical checkups for residents of the remote island.

The company has come under increasing attack for its plans to start up a fourth nuclear plant in Gongliao, close to the first and second plants and only dozens of kilometers away from Taipei.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have chosen May 19 as the date for the next protest against the project because it falls on the eve of the anniversary of President Ma Ying-jeou’s inauguration. His administration wants to hold a referendum about the fourth plant before the end of the year, but critics say the government should save itself the trouble and declare an immediate halt to the project. Opinion polls show up to more than 70 percent of the public opposed to the fourth plant, mainly because of safety concerns.

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