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China: Handling of radwaste

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1994) Handling radioactive waste requires normally carefulness and responsibility but obviously not everybody thinks so. Recently radioactive waste was found in a well in the city of Harbin in Northern China.

(423.4193) WISE Amsterdam - The authorities who are responsible for the environment removed 240 MetricTonnes of waste. It is very likely that there was danger for the population of the city, but no further information was published.

Careless handling of radioactive waste is a serious problem in China, although there is a law which regulates the waste disposal. But the authorities do not control this, the factories assure that they have no money to build special storage sites and the ecology movement is very weak and powerless in China.

A gold mine, for example, dumps for years radioactive Thorium, which is also found in the mine, outdoor on a large heap -- they refuse even to build up a wall round the dump site. The authorities intervene not very often; and if they intervene, the culprits have to pay only small fines, or they can rely on the protection of political or economical powerful people. In the face of this the environmental authorities are not able to enforce the law.

Above all a lot of radioactive waste from the (armaments) industry is 'stored' in Tibet and in the north-west of China. An international safeguarding of this is not allowed by China. So the chinese people will go on suffering from the radiation: In February 1993 farmers found often waste in a small village-well. It was radioactive Cobalt which was 'stored' there. When authorities removed the radioactive waste, 3 people already died and more than 90 got seriously ill due to the radiation.

Source: Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 18 November 1994
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