More fuel rods at fourth nuclear power plant sent back to U.S.

10/21/2020 09:39 PM
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Atomic Energy Council Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星, right) speaks at the Legislative Yuan on Oct. 15 / CNA photo
Atomic Energy Council Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星, right) speaks at the Legislative Yuan on Oct. 15 / CNA photo

Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) More fuel rods at a mothballed nuclear power plant in New Taipei were shipped back to the United States on Wednesday as part of government efforts to honor its promise to make Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025.

Five or six trucks carrying an unknown number of unused fuel rods from the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant arrived at Keelung Port in the early hours and were then loaded into several containers that departed for the U.S. at around noon.

However, the authorities in charge did not disclose whether this is the last batch of fuel rods being sent back to America.

A Legislative Yuan resolution that was passed in 2018 demands that state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) must send back all 1,744 unused fuel rods from the plant to America by the end of this year.

Taipower has said the task will cost NT$700 million (US$24.1 million).

In July 2018, the first batch of 160 rods was transported back to its U.S. supplier -- Global Nuclear Fuel Americas, LLC -- which was followed by three more similar operations as of August 2019, the Taipei-based China Times reported on Tuesday.

On Oct. 15, Atomic Energy Council Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星) said 240 fuel rods at the power plant were still waiting to be transported to the U.S. -- a delay caused by travel restrictions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, disposing of the 1,744 fuel rods from the plant could save about NT$100 million in maintenance costs per year.

The government has spent NT$283.8 billion on building the plant in New Taipei's Gongliao District, but it has been mothballed since 2014 due to public concern over the use of nuclear power.

(By Flor Wang and Wang Chao-yu)

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