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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Compensation clauses urged in cross-strait nuclear pact

ROC Central News Agency

2011/10/18 21:46:39

By Hsu Chih-wei and Deborah Kuo

Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) A legislator urged the government Tuesday to make sure that compensation clauses are included in a cross-Taiwan Strait nuclear power safety agreement that is expected to be concluded soon, to help secure greater protection for Taiwan in the event of a nuclear disaster in China.

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin urged the inclusion of compensation clauses in the cross-strait nuclear power safety agreement scheduled to be inked during the seventh round of high-level talks between Taiwan and China in the Chinese city of Tianjin Oct. 19-21.

The compensation mechanism is essential if Taiwan is to avoid any repeat of the damage Taiwanese people sustained after a food safety crisis in China between 2008 and 2010 triggered by melamine-contaminated dairy products, Tien said.

She noted that Taiwan and China have signed a food safety agreement, but said that accord carries no compensation clauses and that after the Chinese food crisis, affected Taiwanese companies had no way of claiming compensation for their losses.

"The Chinese authorities did not even bother to notify the Straits Exchange Foundation -- Taiwan's intermediary window with China -- when the Chinese food companies that were the main culprits went bankrupt and closed down," she said.

Tien made the remarks in support of several rights groups that voiced their concern Tuesday about the imminent signing of the nuclear power safety agreement.

Tsui Su-hsin, secretary-general of the Green Citizen's Action Alliance, said the exchange of nuclear safety information and a mechanism through which each side can alert the other in the event of a nuclear crisis are the two major aspects of the anticipated cross-strait accord.

However, Tsui said, China's nuclear safety mechanism has been problematic and questionable in the past. For example, two accidents occurred in the Dayawan Nuclear Power Plant in Shenzhen last year alone. The power plant first covered up news about the accidents, then procrastinated in notifying Hong Kong, causing panic among Hong Kong residents, she said.

China operates 14 nuclear power generators in plants near its southeastern coast, with the one nearest to Taiwan located only 130 km from the island, Tsui said.

Based on Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster earlier this year, radioactivity threat levels were dangerous within a distance of 200 km. If a nuclear catastrophe should strike southeastern China, Taiwan would suffer a direct impact, she predicted.

In that scenario, the Chinese authorities cannot be trusted, she went on.

"That is why deeper thought is required for Taiwan before it forges a nuclear power safety accord with China," she said.

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