The Atomic Energy Council yesterday dismissed a French newspaper’s report that raised doubts about the security of facilities storing spent reactor fuel, saying that spent fuel has always been kept under safe storage and strict management.
The French newspaper Le Monde reported on Tuesday that spent fuel pools at the Jinshan (金山) Nuclear Power Plant in Shimen District (石門), New Taipei City (新北市) and Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里), New Taipei City, have become saturated and could therefore be severely hazardous in the event of an accident.
However, the council said spent fuel pools at the two plants are not saturated, and the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), which operates the two plants, will establish dry storage facilities to relieve spent fuel levels in the pools.
At the first nuclear plant, which is 28km north of Taipei, 2,870 and 2,744 bundles of spent fuel rods are stored in the plant’s two pools, each of which can accommodate a total of 3,083 bundles, data compiled by the council on Jan. 2 showed.
While the pools are almost full, an on-site dry storage facility will be completed in 2013 and spent fuel from the pools will be transferred to the new facility to clear the way for further spent fuel, council spokesman Peng Chih-wei (彭志偉) said.
The council estimated that the pools at the plant will reach maximum levels by 2015.
The spent fuel, once it has been cooled by the water in the pools and is emitting less radioactivity, will be transferred to the dry storage facility for a period before being taken to a final secure destination, Peng said.
At the second nuclear plant, located 22km northeast of Taipei, 3,828 and 3,872 bundles, out of a permitted capacity of 5,026 bundles per pool, have been stored in the plant’s two pools, council data showed.
A similar dry storage facility for the plant is also being planned. The new facilities will use both operational and physical measures to enhance the security of waste storage, including putting spent fuel casks into enclosed concrete buildings and with round-the-clock monitoring of radiation, Peng said.