DPP lawmakers oppose Taipower’s dry cask storage of spent fuels

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin yesterday pointed out the risk of explosions in Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower)’s plan for dry cask storage of nuclear waste, urging President Ma Ying-jeou to enhance and enforce heavier nuclear safety requirements.

At a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, Tien accused Taipower of pushing for the dry cask storage of nuclear waste as a way to extend the lifespan of the No.1, No.2 and No.3 power plants.

The lawmaker cited the example of the Point Beach nuclear power plant in Wisconsin, where dry storage tanks exploded, although no injuries were reported. There have also been other cases of casks with cracks or leaks, with is a cause for concern.

The dry cask storing method involves the transfer of spent fuel, which has been cooled, from the pool to the cask. However, Tien argued that if the spent fuel is not completely cooled, there is a heightened danger and risk of explosion, adding that if the dry cask storage was so safe, the entire world would use the method.

New Taipei City Councilor Shen Fa-hui pointed out at the meeting that the Fukushima power plant’s No. 4 reactor reportedly has 700 nuclear waste storage units, while Taiwan’s No. 2 power plant in Jinshan District alone has over 2000 storage units, yet surrounding residents appear to have been kept in the dark.

The central government and Taipower should jointly inform the people how they ultimately dispose of nuclear waste, or cease operations of the No. 1 and No. 2 power plants, she said. Experts say the nuclear power plants in Taiwan should follow Japan’s example of building shared, large storage tanks and place the spent fuel in pools that are tightly supervised. Taipower’s proposal of using the dry cask storage method is a mid-range plan, meaning it can only store spent fuel safely for 40 or 50 years before it encounters issues. Tien said she is only pushing to make nuclear energy 100 percent safe, and appealed to President Ma to put greater emphasis on the issue.