Nu­clear gen­er­a­tor may be re­tired early: Taipower

The China Post - - LOCAL -

The state- owned Tai­wan Power Co. ( Taipower, ) warned Sun­day that the No. 1 gen­er­a­tor at the coun­try’s first nu­clear power plant may have to go off­line sooner than ex­pected be­cause of limited stor­age space for spent nu­clear fuel.

On Feb. 17, Taipower is­sued an in­vi­ta­tion for for­eign com­pa­nies to ten­der for the re­pro­cess­ing of spent nu­clear fuel from Tai­wan’s first and sec­ond nu­clear power plants but with­drew the re­quest on April 2 amid a bud­get con­tro­versy.

Taipower had al­lo­cated NT$11.257 bil­lion (US$360 mil­lion) for the over­seas re­pro­cess­ing of 1,200 clus­ters of spent fuel rods, 300 of which were to be shipped out by the end of the year.

But law­mak­ers failed to ap­prove the bud­get in March, say­ing that Taipower and the Min­istry of Eco­nomic Af­fairs were try­ing to ini­ti­ate a bid­ding process with for­eign com­pa­nies with­out leg­isla­tive over­sight and were ac­cess­ing the na­tion’s nu­clear back- end man­age­ment fund be­fore the estab­lish­ment of legal guide­lines for its use.

Taipower said it will con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate with law­mak­ers and seek their sup­port in the hope that the bud­get would be ap­proved be­fore the cur­rent leg­isla­tive ses­sion ends in late May.

How­ever, Taipower said that if the fuel stor­age prob­lem is not re­solved in time, the No. 1 gen­er­a­tor would have to go off­line in mid- 2016, ahead of the de­com­mis­sion­ing of the first nu­clear power plant in New Taipei City, which is sched­uled to begin in 2018 and be com­pleted by 2023.

The gen­er­a­tor, in fact, has been down since last De­cem­ber due to a com­po­nent fail­ure, and the Atomic En­ergy Coun­cil has not yet given ap­proval for it to be put back on­line. Taipower has said it is aim­ing to put the gen­er­a­tor back in ser­vice as soon as pos­si­ble.

With the 63.6 megawatt gen- er­a­tor out of ser­vice, the risk of power short­ages in­creases, Taipower said.

The stor­age space prob­lem also ex­ists at the coun­try’s sec­ond nu­clear power plant, which has the same de­com­mis­sion sched­ule as the first one, ac­cord­ing to Taipower.

Sev­eral civic groups, in­clud­ing Mom Loves Tai­wan and Green Cit­i­zens’ Ac­tion Al­liance, have lodged strong protests against Taipower’s pro­posed re­pro­cess­ing of nu­clear fuel.

The groups have said is “ab­surd” to con­sider send­ing fuel rods over­seas for re­pro­cess­ing since Tai­wan should be phas­ing out nu­clear power.

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