Permanent nuclear storage must be ready by ’21: AEC

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) must finish constructing a facility to permanently store low-level radioactive waste from its nuclear power plants by 2021, or it will be fined, an Atomic Energy Council (AEC) official was cited as saying yesterday. The AEC has demanded Taipower complete votes gauging local support for such a storage facility this year, determine the site by 2016 and complete the construction by 2021, the Cabinet-level council’s Deputy Minister Chou Yuan-ching was cited by the Central News Agency as saying. If the state-run company fails to meet the schedule, the AEC may impose a fine according to the laws governing the management of radioactive wastes, Chou said. Low-level radioactive waste, such as protective gear, have been stored at a “temporary” facility on the remote Orchid Island for years. Taipower has been unable to find a permanent site for the waste because of strong resistance by local communities.

One of the major demands that anti-nuclear power protesters made during their demonstration in Taipei yesterday was to immediately remove all radioactive waste from the Orchid Island. The demonstration was held to mark the second anniversary of the nuclear disaster that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. As for storage of high-level radioactive wastes, such as the fuel rods, there are currently three options: a short-term one, a medium-term one, and a long-term one, Chou said. The short-term choice is to store them in the spent fuel pool at the nuclear power plants, he said. The medium-term one is dry cask storage, which can last for 40 to 100 years, and currently there are more than 30 sites in the world offering such a solution, he added. The long-term choice is storage deep underground, a method practiced in Finland, France and Switzerland, he noted.