Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said yesterday that the first reactor at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門) may have to be mothballed next year due to the lack of storage space for nuclear waste.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs said it was in negotiations with France about a solution to the nation’s lack of storage space for nuclear waste.
In a question-and-answer session yesterday at a meeting of the Economics Committee at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, legislators expressed concern about the processing methods for low and high-level nuclear waste.
Taipower said the two spent-fuel pools at the Jinshan plant contained 2,982 and 2,856 spent fuel rods respectively, while the pools at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) contain 4,180 and 4,068 rods, while the pools at the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, contain 1,311 and 1,339 rods.
The spent-fuel pool of Jinshan’s No. 1 reactor would be full by November this year, when it undergoes its annual maintenance, Taipower said.
The pools at the Guosheng and Ma-anshan plants would face the same problem in 2016 and 2025 respectively, Taipower said.
Taipower vice president Chen Pu-tsan (陳布燦) said that the company has no choice but to leave the spent fuel rods in the reactor as there is no other storage space available.
Chen said that although the Jinshan Plant is due to operate until 2018, the lack of storage space means it would only be able to generate power until the end of next year, when it would have to be powered down, effectively mothballing it.
Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said he could not comment on the possibility of the New Taipei City Government agreeing to build nuclear storage bays after the seven-in-one elections in November.
Chang said the government had been in negotiations with other nations, such as China, North Korea, Russia and the Marshall Islands, about the possibility of them processing Taiwan’s nuclear waste.
“We have not received any positive responses to date,” Chang said.
North Korea has previously sued Taipower of failing to honor a contract, signed in 1996, to deliver it nuclear waste for disposal. The contract was not fulfilled due to claims that North Korea had not upheld Atomic Energy Council standards and Taipower therefore failed to procure a permit from the council to export the waste.
In response to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), Chang confirmed that the government had approached France as a possible candidate to take the waste, as it possesses the technology to recycle and reuse nuclear waste.
Chen said Taipower had also been in contact with France, adding that if a deal is done, the cost of transporting the materials to France would be very steep, pointing to the example of Japan, which also ships its nuclear waste to France.
Chang said storing the waste on an uninhabited island was not high on the list of options due to the lack of such an island, but it was an option if such a location could be found.
Chang said he could not reveal the location of the inhabited islands where the government is considering building nuclear waste storage facilities, another option, for fear that people may change their registered household address to those islands to claim the government subsidies paid to residents living nearby nuclear waste storage facilities, such as Lanyu (蘭嶼).