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Nuke plant faces shutdown: Taipower

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The First Nuclear Power Plant could face the possibility of being shut down if the dry storage facility of spent fuel rods cannot be put into use before this year's scheduled maintenance, senior staff of the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) said yesterday.

According to Taipower, the spent fuel rod pools at Nuke 1 have almost reached capacity, and if this issue cannot be solved soon, the power plant might be shut down.

Taipower said that the first and second reactor can store 3,083 spent fuel rods each, and so far, 2,982 spent fuel rods are stored in the first reactor and 2,856 spent fuel rods are also stored in the second reactor.

Plant maintenance will take place at the end of this year, Taipower said, and 120 fuel rods will be replaced with new ones. However, Taipower said, there is only space for 101 fuel rods at the first reactor.

Taipower said that the dry storage facility for spent fuel rods was finished in July last year, and the constructor reported the space issue to the New Taipei City Government for inspection.

However, according to Taipower, government officials said that part of the facility did not match the original design plan regarding the soil and water conservation plan that was approved, so officials demanded Taipower change the design.

After the design of the facility was changed, Taipower said, the New Taipei City Government conducted inspections on Feb. 13, but the soil and water conservation plan for the facility has not been approved yet.

According to Taipower, if the dry storage facility for spent fuel rods cannot be put into use, Nuke 1 might be shut down one or two years earlier than scheduled.

Staff at Nuke 1 said that shutting down the facility might increase power generation costs by NT$14.4 billion each year.

No Political Factors Involved: New Taipei City

The New Taipei City Government yesterday said that administrative officials will respect the decision of experts regarding the inspection result on the dry storage facility, which is still pending.

According to New Taipei City officials, they are only responsible for the administrative process of the inspection, and there will be no political factors affecting the process.

The officials also said that the new design of the facility will not be approved until all four experts sign the design plan.

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