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September 25, 2017

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Nuke 1 may face early retirement: Taipower

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- One of the units in the First Nuclear Power Plant may be facing an early retirement as it is running out of space to store radioactive waste, announced the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) yesterday.

Not only are the storage pools almost filled to capacity, the dry storage site plans are still pending at the New Taipei City Government; if the plan is not passed and implemented in time for the additional waste to be disposed of, one of Nuke 1's units may be forced to stop operating at the end of 2015, Taipower said.

According to numbers released by Taipower, the current spent fuel rods stored in Unit 1 of Nuke 1 have reached 2982 bunches, 2856 for its Unit 2. The two storage facilities in Nuke 2 have 4180 and 4068 bunches, respectively, while Nuke 3 has 1311 and 1339 bunches.

Nuke 1's Unit 1 storage facility will be filled around November 2014, while Nuke 2 is estimated to face the same issue in 2016 and Nuke 3 in 2025.

In an interpellation session in a Legislative Yuan session yesterday, Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) expressed doubt over the statistics. "120 fuel rod bunches will be replaced in the Nuke 1 repair at the end of this year, why did Taipower say the spent fuel storage can only store another 101 bunches?"

The 120 fuel rod bundles currently in use at the reactor can only be partially replaced when they are used up in November this year, Taipower vice president Chen Pu-tsan answered.

Taipower has been planning to replace just 94 to 98 of the fuel rod bundles, allowing the reactor to run for an extra year through the end of 2015, but the spent rods will have to remain in the reactor, Chen said, unless a plan to build a dry cask storage facility is approved by the New Taipei City Government before then.

Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝), meanwhile, said it remains uncertain whether or not the plan can clear the city government this year due to "political considerations" ahead of the Nov. 29 mayoral election.

According to the Executive Yuan's Atomic Energy Council, the spent fuel is cooled in the spent fuel pool for a certain period of time before being transferred to dry storage casks. The spent fuel becomes cooler over time while it is stored in the dry storage facility.

Dry storage of spent fuel has many advantages, such as easy maintenance, low operational cost, low corrosion, low probability of radioactive release, and it does not produce secondary waste.

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