The Diplomat: Tao Indigenous Community Demands Removal of Nuclear Waste From Taiwan’s Orchid Island

Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs announced last month it had concluded that the island’s Tao residents did not know of the government’s plans to create a nuclear waste facility, which were approved by Chiang, then a premier, and fellow premier Sun Yun-hsuan in the 1970s.

The Tao community has insisted for over 30 years that the government stop storing nuclear waste on the island.

In a news conference on November 22, Tsai, who is heavily favored to win re-election in next month’s presidential election, pledged to compensate the Tao community in annually disbursed sums, to be distributed by a foundation appointed by the island’s government.

Chiaman Chialamu, the mayor of Lanyu township (the Chinese name for the island), said at the press conference that while residents appreciated Tsai’s decision, they still wished for the over 100,000 barrels of nuclear waste currently stored on the island to be removed.

The government will also offer an additional US$7.22 million every three years to be disbursed until the waste is removed, according to Kolas Yotaka, spokesperson for Taiwan’s Executive Yuan.

Indigenous elders, however, protested last week in front of the Executive Yuan, vowing not to accept the compensation and demanding the radioactive waste be removed.

Capen Nganean, a Tao elder and anti-nuclear campaigner, told the Taipei Times Tsai was attempting to buy off the Tao prior to January 11 elections. He said Tsai had not shown a sincere interest in removing nuclear waste from Orchid Island.

“We will not take a penny of the compensation, as we can catch fish and grow sweet potatoes,” Capen told the Taipei Times.

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