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Taiwan again looking for country for waste storage

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 19, 1999) Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) has held exploratory and detailed talks with entities in the United States and the Russian Federation, and with government officials in Central Asian republics about disposing some of Taiwan's conditioned low- level waste (LLW) in a Central Asian repository. Shipment of waste to North Korea is no longer considered.

(521.5110) WISE Amsterdam - Taiwan has been actively seeking a foreign site for radwaste disposal since the mid-1990s, after local protests erupted when Taiwan began moving LLW to Orchid Island, in the Pacific Ocean southeast of Taiwan. This island has a unique ecosystem and is home to 3,000 Yami, the most isolated of Taiwan's indigenous people. The storage at that facility has reached full capacity.

Until last year, Taiwan had sought to send the waste to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) after it had signed in January 1997 a contract with the DPRK to bury the LLW in one of two shafts in a former mine in North Korea (see also WISE News Communique 488.4845, Taiwan reconsiders domestic N-waste storage). The plan was dropped after South Korea objected strongly, because Taiwan's payments would have aided the repressive DPRK regime and because South Korea itself coveted the designated repository site for Korean waste after the two Koreas are eventually reunited. Taiwan has also been evaluating an offer from China to take the waste in exchange for commercial and political concessions which Taiwan would not accept.

According to the current plan, Taiwan's LLW would be brought to a site which would also be used to dispose of uranium mill tailings and wastes from other former Soviet Union uranium production. The country taking the waste would, in addition to being paid for hosting the LLW, get assistance in cleaning up the Soviet uranium legacy. The plan to move Taipower's waste to Central Asia calls for 15,000 drums (standard 200 liter). Taipower has about 200,000 LLW drums, of which over 97,000 drums are on Orchid Island. According to Taiwan officals, there are no laws prohibiting Taipower from disposing of nuclear waste at a foreign site. Taipower alone is responsible for conditioning and disposal of its waste. Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council (AEC) must approve the utility's plans before they can be implemented. The Russian entities would be responsible for engineering and constructing of an LLW repository on the designated uranium processing site. Taipower would pay for the construction of the repository. In addition to providing engineering expertise, the Russian Federation has been facilitating high-level political contacts between Taiwan and the governments of the Central Asian countries.

Source: Nucleonics Week, 21 October 1999
Contact: Taiwan Environmental Protection Union,
4F, No.38, Alley 3, Lane 302, Sec.3, Hor-PingW.Rd. Taipei, Taiwan
Tel: +886-2-3636419
Fax: +886-2-3623458


DPRK-Taiwan LLW contract fails, DPRK claims compensation. North Korea is claiming compensation payments by Taiwan because the country did not fulfill the LLW waste contract. Negotations to settle the dispute are continuing. DPRK is claiming damages equivalent to several million US dollars which they said they spent preparing a former mine on the coast to recieve the Taiwanese waste. Officials of the country said it has built a port near Pyongsan especially to receive the shipments and that thousands of workers are engaged in preparing the waste disposal site. However, sources claim the DPRK likely wouldn't be successful in that suit since the contract stipulates that any dispute must be argued in Taiwanese court. Nucleonics Week, 4 November 1999