Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Environmentalists worried over spent fuel rod storage

RISKS REMAIN:If a disaster were to occur at the Jinshan plant, it would require evacuations within a 1,000km radius, compared with 250km for the Fukushima disaster

By Hsieh Chun-lin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Spent fuel rods from a nuclear reactor decommissioned yesterday in New Taipei City must be stored properly, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) told a news conference.

The first reactor at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門) was decommissioned, but the issue of how to store the plant’s 816 spent fuel rods remains to be solved, Chen said.

State-run Taiwan Power Co spokesman Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) on Tuesday said that until a proper storage facility is built, the rods would have to stay in place at the facility and the plant’s safety systems must be kept running.

However, Green Consumers’ Foundation chairman Jay Fang (方儉) said that the dry cask storage facility at the plant is in a dangerous location and the rods should be moved to a safer location nearby.

Members of the foundation, along with representatives from the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union and the Green Citizens’ Action Alliance, joined Chen at the news conference, lending their voices to calls for the safe storage of the spent fuel rods and demanding that nuclear power be completely phased out.

While some people in Taiwan have been advocating the continued use of nuclear power, they have not addressed the issue of nuclear waste storage, Chen said, calling this an irresponsible approach to the issue.

“You want it to eat something, but you don’t want it to shit anything out,” Chen said.

Taiwan Environmental Protection Union chairman Liu Jyh-jian (劉志堅) said that he respects the outcome of a referendum passed on Nov. 24 that rejected the government’s policy to phase out nuclear energy by 2025, but believes that policy on such an important matter should not be decided by just one referendum.

About 20,000 bundles of fuel rods have been used by the nation’s three nuclear power plants to date, and existing storage facilities are already full and sealed off, he said, adding that Taiwan is not suitable for nuclear power as there is insufficient land to properly handle nuclear waste.

Former Citizen Congress Watch chairman Shih Hsin-min (施信民) said that the referendums on nuclear power only mean that legislative amendments requiring an end to nuclear power usage by 2025 have been nullified, but do not mean that nuclear power must be used.

The government would still work toward the goal of ending the use of nuclear power plants in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Environment Act (環境基本法), he said.

Fang said that calls for the use of nuclear power to supplement “green” energy sources are naive and overlook the inherent dangers of nuclear power.

The tsunami and resultant disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011 forced the evacuation of people living within a 250km radius of the plant, he said.

If a similar disaster were to occur at the Jinshan plant, it would require a 1,000km-radius evacuation, given the amount of fuel rods stored at the plant, he said.

Evacuations would potentially be needed in Shanghai as well, depending on wind activity when the disaster occurs, Fang added.

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