Proponents of nuclear energy yesterday called on the government not to send unused fuel rods at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant back to their US supplier, while opponents said the move could prevent further financial losses at the plant.
In April 24, 2014, the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government announced it would mothball the Longmen plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) amid public concerns and strong opposition to its operation.
However, the policy was not implement until July 1, 2015, for a three-year period.
Photo: Lin Ching-hua, Taipei Times
State-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) chairman Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) on March 15 said that the company would transport the plant’s 1,744 fuel rods back to the US supplier over three years, starting this month.
However, it would first seek foreign buyers for the fuel rods, Yang said at the time.
If that failed, Taipower would dismantle the rods and seek buyers for the uranium extracted from them, he added.
The Chung-Hwa Nuclear Society yesterday said the ministry’s decision was illegitimate, and urged the government to consider starting the plant.
The ministry has said it would remove the fuel rods because the plant has been mothballed, but the facility’s suspension was never reported to and approved by the Legislative Yuan, it said.
The nation would not be facing a power shortage if the plant had not been mothballed and the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門) had been updated, it said.
The goal of achieving a nuclear-free homeland by 2025 written into the Electricity Act (電業法) last year by the Democratic Progressive Party has put power security and national security at risk, the society added.
The Longmen plant’s construction had been overshadowed by numerous scandals, and its quality is questionable, while the Control Yuan has issued six correction reports regarding the dereliction of duties of concerned authorities, the Anti-Nuclear Action Platform said in a statement yesterday.
Removing the fuel rods would prevent further losses and would not amount to squandering the government’s money as nuclear energy advocates have claimed, the platform said.
The plant has already cost the nation NT$283.8 billion (US$9.5 billion at the current exchange rate) and Taipower has estimated that it would need an additional NT$50 billion to finish the plant’s construction, the platform said.
In 2013, nationwide demonstrations against nuclear power attracted more than 220,000 people, but a rally this year attracted only about 2,000 people, it said.
In related news, the Atomic Energy Council yesterday approved Taipower’s plan to restart the No. 2 reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里).
The reactor automatically shut down on March 28, just one day after it was restarted following a nearly two-year overhaul.
The shutdown was caused by a steam pressure overload that triggered the reactor’s safety mechanism, whose sensitivity was set too high, and shut the reactor down, Taipower said.
The council said it approved the plan after holding five meetings with experts and conducting two inspections at the plant since receiving Taipower’s application on April 9.
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