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Nuclear facilities to run out of waste storage space soon

2011/07/28 23:19:36

Taipei, July 28 (CNA) Taiwan's three operating nuclear power plants will soon run out of space to store nuclear waste, the Ministry of Audit (MOA) under the Control Yuan said Thursday.

Construction of a new storage facility for nuclear waste is far behind schedule and a site for storage of low-level radioactive waste has not even been confirmed, said the MOA, which noticed the problem while examining the government's spending on last year's budget.

The two storage facilities that collect nuclear waste from units one and two at Taiwan's first nuclear power plant, located in New Taipei's Shihmen Township, have reached 89.85 percent and 85.50 percent, respectively, of their capacity, the ministry said.

The storage for waste from the second unit in the country's second power plant in New Taipei's Wanli Township exceeds 70 percent of capacity, the agency said, adding that the rate for waste from unit 2 at the third plant has nearly reached 50 percent.

Spent fuel dry storage facilities are still only in the planning stage and construction is not scheduled to start until April 2015 at the earliest, the MOA said.

The ministry said the storage capacity for waste in the first plant is close to its limit and that the situation could threaten the plant's continued operation.

Outlying island Kinmen County's Wuciou Township and Daren Township in Taitung County were announced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) last March to be possible sites for storage facilities for low-level radioactive waste.

However, the MOEA has since ruled out the possibility of building a facility in Wuciou due to various factors, including ecological and environmental reasons, while the Taitung county council has asked the county government to list part of Daren Township as a cultural preservation area to preserve the heritage of the Paiwan indigenous tribe.

The MOA suggested that the ministry look for a new site in order not to delay the plan even further.

The auditing authority also found that the project for power generation facilities in the still-under-construction fourth nuclear power plant's units one and two has expanded its budget from NT$169.73 billion to NT$273.65 billion.

The surge in the budget and the on-and-off construction due to financial and political issues have forced Taiwan Power Company, which is building the plant, to delay the completion of the project by more than 11 years and five months.

(By Tsai Ho-ying and Jamie Wang)