Japanese nuclear waste management specialist Masako Sawai yesterday identified flaws in Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) nuclear waste management, describing the contingent measures at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) and a radioactive waste repository on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) in Taitung County as “ill-planned and careless.”
Sawai, a member of Japan’s Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, spoke at a forum in Taipei to conclude her three-day visit to look into nuclear facilities and exchange opinions with local experts.
After visiting the Guosheng plant, she said that the methods utilized by Taipower to incinerate low-level radioactive waste were outdated and poorly managed.
Photo: Chen Wei-han, Taipei Times
The purpose of incinerating radioactive waste is to reduce waste volume, Sawai said, adding that using a plasma torch is the common incineration method around the world, as it generates temperatures of up to 15,000oC to melt mixed waste materials into liquid for storage as high-level radioactive waste, she said.
However, according to former Institute of Nuclear Energy Research researcher He Li-wei (賀立維), the Guosheng plant and the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County are equipped with diesel-fueled incinerators commonly used to burn general household waste.
Diesel-fueled incinerators can only reach temperatures of 800oC to 1,000oC and are not capable of melting nuclear waste, leading to the generation of ash and emission of airborne, radioactive residues, Sawai said.
“Higher background radiation levels in the greater Taipei area could reasonably be attributed to two nuclear plants in New Taipei City and the incineration of radioactive waste if there is no other nuclear facilities in the area. Incineration does not reduce radioactivity of waste, so power companies have to ensure that radioactive emissions are captured,” she said.
Sawai called on Taipower to conduct radioactivity tests of nuclear waste both before and after incineration to assess radiation leakage.
According to He, Taipower officials gave contradictory answers when asked if the company conducted radioactivity testing before incineration, either saying they did not know what was going on or trying to withhold information.
“Even if Taiwan shifts to a plasma torch incineration method, there will not be improvement with such careless management of nuclear waste,” Sawai said.
Meanwhile, a reservoir built above the Guosheng plant is not placed high enough to pump water into the plant’s reactors using the force of gravity during a nuclear accident if electrical power is cut, she said, adding that the water taken from a nearby brook might contain sulphur, which would react inside reactors and cause risks.
Sawai said that in Japan, low-level radioactive waste is stored in iron drums that are buried 20m underground and surrounded by reinforced concrete walls, which is “unlike the careless treatment at Orchid Island,” where damaged drums were discovered in a 3m deep repository.
It is not uncommon around the world to neglect the danger of low-level radioactive waste and store different types of nuclear waste together, although the half-lives of some nuclear waste is more than 1,000 years, easily outlasting the storage facilities they are kept in, Sawai said, calling on Taiwanese authorities to handle the issue properly.
AGGRESSION: China’s latest intrusions set a new benchmark for its ‘gray zone’ tactics and possibly a new pattern that it would attempt to normalize, a researcher said China’s latest military exercises represent a new challenge to Taiwan’s legal authority to demarcate its borders in the Taiwan Strait, a defense expert said, adding that the fleets in the latest exercises were likely the most powerful the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ever assembled. The PLA conducted military exercises from Sunday last week to 6am on Friday, which encompassed large swathes of the western Pacific, including the Taiwan Strait and waters off the Philippines and Guam, National Policy Foundation associate research fellow Chieh Chung (揭仲) said on Friday. The Ministry of National Defense said that it detected 70 warship and 162 aircraft
DOMESTIC MARKET: To protect the livelihoods of local egg farmers, the government adopted a new method for releasing imported eggs, the agriculture minister said More than 54 million imported eggs will be disposed, as their expiration date has passed, Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday. Chen made the remarks at a news conference in Taipei, explaining the flow of imported eggs following recent controversies regarding the products. The ministry introduced a special egg import program to address a nationwide egg shortage earlier this year. However, controversies have risen in recent weeks. These included an accusation that the government helped some egg importing companies over others, eggs imported from Brazil that had an incorrect expiration date, and egg shipments from Brazil that were found
PACIFIC OCEAN: Defense experts have warned that the ‘Shandong,’ China’s second largest aircraft carrier, poses a serious threat to eastern Taiwan’s defenses The drills conducted by the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong in the Western Pacific last week were more aimed at showcasing China’s military capabilities to the US rather than toward Taiwan, a Taiwanese defense expert said yesterday. Lin Yin-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said the drills which involved dozens of warplanes sought to test China’s anti-access and area denial capabilities should the US and its allies attempt to interfere in a cross-strait conflict. Lin said that the latest Chinese drills coincided with a joint maritime exercise conducted by the US, South Korea
Thousands of bottles of Sriracha have been returned or destroyed after the discovery of excessive sulfur dioxide, a bleaching agent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday. About 12,600 bottles totaling 9,991.8kg of the hot sauce imported from the US by Emporium Corp (河洛企業) were flagged at the border for containing illegal levels of sulfur dioxide, the FDA said in its regular border inspection announcement. Inspectors discovered 0.5g per kilogram of the common bleaching agent and preservative, higher than the 0.03g permitted, it said. As it is the first time within six months the product has been flagged, Sriracha products from