Sat, May 06, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Damage to nuclear reactor component may threaten power supply: Taipower

Staff writer, with CNA

State-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) may face a tougher-than-expected challenge to keep electricity supply stable this summer after a Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant reactor was damaged during its annual maintenance last month.

The control rod drive shaft used at the plant’s No. 2 reactor accidentally fell inside a guide tube during checks on Wednesday last week, damaging the internal components of the tube, Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (林德福) said on Thursday.

To ensure the control rod tube assembly continues to function normally, the company has decided to replace the damaged components, Lin said.

Lin said the accident did not prompt any concerns of radioactive leaks, because it happened when the fuel rods were not in the reactor.

However, repairing the control rod tube assembly might affect plans to complete the plant’s overhaul by May 20 for it to be ready to run at full capacity to help meet power demand during peak summer months, he said.

“It will be a challenge,” Lin said, when asked if Taipower would be able to cope with power demand this summer.

The nation has three active nuclear power plants, each with two reactors, but only the No. 1 reactor at the Ma-anshan plant in Pingtung’s Hengchun Township (恆春) is operating at full capacity.

REDUCED CAPACITY

The No. 1 reactor at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門) has been shut down since December 2014 when a broken connecting bolt was discovered in a fuel bundle during annual maintenance checks.

The No. 2 reactor at the Jinshan plant is running at reduced capacity so that it can continue to supply electricity until June 10, when it is to be shut down for maintenance.

The No. 1 reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) was shut down on Nov. 30 last year for maintenance and because its fuel pool was full.

The plant has yet to receive a response to its application to expand the fuel pool to resume operations.

As for the No. 2 reactor at the Guosheng plant, it has been offline since May 2015 when it shut down unexpectedly.

The Legislative Yuan has instructed the Atomic Energy Council to submit a safety report before the reactors can be reactivated, but approval may be held back because of the government’s opposition to nuclear power.

POWER RESERVES

According to Taipower, the No. 2 reactor at the Ma-anshan plant has an installed capacity of 951 megawatts and accounts for 2.8 percent of the utility’s total operating power reserves.

Taipower has predicted that it will operate with a relatively low 6.99 percent operating reserve later this month.

If the damaged part of Ma-anshan’s No. 2 reactor cannot be fixed by then, Taipower’s operating reserve would drop to 4.19 percent, a level at which an alert is issued.

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