Mainland nuclear waste accord is ‘firm-to-firm’: Taipower
Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower,
) Deputy Manager Chen Putsan ( ) said yesterday that a memorandum signed with mainland China over nuclear waste storage exists as a commercial contract between firms. Chen made the statement following the Legislative Yuan’s Education and Culture Committee meeting.
In the memorandum, which was drawn up during former President Lee Teng-hui’s term of office, Taipower arranged to send nuclear waste to Chinese state-run China National Nuclear Corporation (
) for long-term radioactive waste storage.
During the same meeting, Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai ( ) questioned Atomic Energy Council (AEC, ) head Tsai Chuen-horng ( ) about the status of the agreement, which not been renegotiated in the 15 years since. In his reply, AEC chief Tsai said he was unclear about the details of the agreement.
According to Legislator Tsai, before the year-end elections of 2014, the renewal of the memorandum with mainland China was sent to the Presidential Office and later directed to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) for further negotiation with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. Tsai Chuen-horng replied that he was not present at meetings related to the agreement.
He said that negotiations with China on this issue were conducted by Taipower, and that though the MAC and Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) were apprised of the matter, the AEC was not. Taipower officials are concerned that the commercial contract may be made complicated by the issue’s elevation to a government-level cross-strait related agreement.
Last month, a plan formulated by Taipower to send nuclear waste for reprocessing abroad was rejected with bipartisan opposition. Taipower and the MOEA initiated bidding for nuclear processing contracts on Feb. 17. The plan called for spent fuel rods to be reprocessed and stored abroad for 20 years before being shipped back to Taiwan.
Taipower operates the three ex- isting nuclear plants (a total of six reactors) on the island, accounting for 16 percent of electricity generation. In April 2014 due to social pressure, it announced that Unit 1 of the Fourth Nuclear Plant would be mothballed upon construction and construction of Unit 2 would be halted.
According to the World Nuclear Association, as of January 2015, used fuel pools at the Chinshan reactor reached 97 percent of maximum capacity, with similar numbers reflected at the Kuosheng reactor.