The fuel rods at the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant are scheduled to be sent back to the US supplier next month as part of the government’s plan to achieve a nuclear-free homeland by 2025, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.
The ministry aims to maximize asset utilization by selling the unused fuel rods to foreign buyers, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told reporters, adding that the Legislative Yuan has passed a resolution to remove all the fuel rods from the plant by 2020.
Shen denied media reports that it would cost the government NT$8 billion (US$268.3 million) to ship the rods to the supplier, Global Nuclear Fuel Americas, LLC.
The Chinese-language United Daily News quoted the plant’s former general manager Wang Po-hui (王伯輝) as saying that the cost of shipping the rods would be much higher than the cost of recycling them.
Removing 1,744 fuel rods from the plant could save about NT$100 million in yearly maintenance costs, Shen said.
Shipping the fuel rods would cost about NT$690 million, state-run utility Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said in a statement.
In a worst-case scenarior, the rods would be dismantled if no buyers could be found, Shen said, adding that even then the cost would not reach NT$8 billion.
The Longmen plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) has been sealed since 2014 amid public concerns and strong opposition to its operation.
The government has spent NT$283.8 billion on building the plant.
Taipower plans to transform the plant into a facility with multiple power generation sources in a bid to achieve the nuclear-free homeland policy.
In related news, when asked about how to ensure a stable power supply nationwide, Shen said the ministry has instructed Taipower to collect power consumption data and draft a plan to improve its electricity distribution networks.
There have been at least 11 power outages over the past few days, with Taipei 101 suffering an outage in one of the incidents.
Taipower would examine about 48,000 outage records from the past three years to resolve the problem, Shen said.
Power supply has become tight in the nation as high temperatures boosted power consumption.
Power usage climbed to an all-time high of about 36.77 gigawatts (GW) on May 30, when a natural gas-fired power plant in Miaoli County’s Tongsiao Township (通霄) was shut down, Taipower data showed.
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