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Taiwan dismisses nuclear waste storage concerns

2012/02/09 19:27:18

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) Taiwan's nuclear safety regulator dismissed Thursday a French newspaper's report that raised doubts about the security of facilities storing spent reactor fuel in Taiwan, saying that spent fuel has always been under safe storage and strict management.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported Tuesday that spent fuel pools at the first and second nuclear power plants in northern Taiwan have become saturated and could therefore be severely hazardous in the event of an accident.

However, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said spent fuel pools at the two plants have not become saturated, and the state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), which operates the two plants, will establish dry storage facilities to relieve spent fuel levels in the pools.

At the first nuclear plant, which is 28 kilometers north of Taipei, 2,870 and 2,744 bundles of spent fuel have been stored in the plant's two pools, each of which can accommodate a total of 3,083 bundles, according to AEC data complied Jan. 2.

While the pools are almost full, an on-site dry storage facility will be completed in 2013 and spent fuel from the pools will be transferred to the new facility in order to clear the way for more nuclear waste, an AEC spokesman Peng Chih-wei said.

The AEC estimated that the pools at the plant will reach maximum levels by 2015.

The spent fuel, after its heat and radiation has been removed by the water in the pools, will be transferred to the dry storage facility for some time before being taken to a final secure destination, Peng said.

At the second nuclear plant, located 22 kilometers northeast of Taipei, 3,828 and 3,872 bundles, out of an allowed total of 5,026 bundles each, have been stored in the plant's two pools, the AEC data said.

Peng said a similar dry storage facility for the plant is also being planned.

The new facilities will use both operational and physical measures to enhance the security of waste storage, including putting spent fuel casks into enclosed buildings made of concrete and round-the-clock monitoring of radiation, Peng said.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Scully Hsiao)
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