Published: Monday 31 March 1997

-- (Credit: Vishwajyoti)The Taiwanese government has earned the wrath of the Yami people residing in the Orchid Islands - 62 km east of the country's southern tip - for dumping of nuclear waste for 14 long years by the state-run electricity company, Taipower. Yami elders were initially told that a canning factory was coming up in the island.

It was only after the local clergy read about it some time ago in a Taipei newspaper that the truth was disclosed. Apparently, Taipower had grabbed some of the country's best farmlands to turn them into a storage site for as many as 112,000 barrels of low-level nuclear waste. This incited the Yamis recently to barricade the harbour wall and threaten to bombard ships carrying waste when they entered the dock.

Facing opposition, Taipower is now reportedly looking for another dumping ground. Also, the company has promised to clear the Orchid Islands site and take the waste elsewhere. But the locals are sceptical as, they point to an increased incidence of leukaemia and stomach cancer and dwindling fish and crab stocks. Taipower is also under international- scrutiny for scaling a deal to sell 60,000 barrels of nuclear waste to North Korea recently.

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