Taipei Government NO to Nuclear storage
The New Taipei City Government yesterday rejected Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) soil and water conservation plan for dry-storing 1,680 bundles of spent nuclear fuel rods at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant, citing concerns over flooding and the site’s resilience against earthquakes.
City Agriculture Department Secretary-General Hsieh Hung-wei (謝宏偉) said the proposed 0.45 hectare site in Shihmen District (石門) for the dry storage cylinders is downstream of Cianhua Creek (乾華溪), which is susceptible to flooding and has had two incidents of rockfalls.
He added that the seismic index of the soil and water prevention facilities provided by Taipower was inconsistent with the actual situation, adding that the company failed to account for certain details in the report.
At three meetings this year, the assessment committee, which comprised four engineers from the New Taipei City Professional Civil Engineers Association, highlighted the risks concerning the storage site, including a nearby faultline, a slope and the flood-prone creek.
The committee members yesterday said that Taipower has not yet laid out solutions to a range of problems, including two upstream tributaries facing potential landslides; the impact strength of a concrete retaining wall; downstream corrosion in the creek’s basin; and the anticorrosion ability of a ground anchor used to support the cylinders.
Hsieh said that the department attaches great importance to the lives of the residents living close to the nation’s northern coast, so the assessment was carried out with the highest standards.
The company will not receive approval for its soil and water conservation plan before requirements laid out by the committee are met, Hsieh said.
Department Slope Land Conservation head Cheng Shao-hsiang (鄭紹祥) said that nuclear safety is an issue that allows zero tolerance for risks. The problems existing in Cianhua Creek and the site’s resilience against earthquakes concern the safety of millions of residents of the Greater Taipei area, he said.
“The department respects the professionalism demonstrated by the committee and will continue to apply a strict set of standards on the assessment,” he said.
Representatives from Taipower complained that the assessment was too strict, but the company later said that it would do its best to conduct the necessary analyses.
Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance chief executive Kuo Ching-lin (郭慶霖) welcomed the department’s rejection of the plan, but added that he is concerned that the company is “buying time” for the plant’s No. 1 reactor — whose fuel pool is nearing capacity — by deliberately failing the assessment.
He said that there is only enough space for about 100 more fuel rods in the fuel pool, adding that Taipower has not yet retrieved all the spent fuel rods that are currently in the pool, many of which he said have ruptured or broken.
Citing a monthly report published by Taipower, he said that between 2003 and 2009, there have been 11 incidents of ruptured, spent fuel rods triggering combustions inside the reactor.
“The scope of this matter is much greater than soil and water conservation. The Jinshan plant should be shut down once the fuel pool is full,” he said.
He said that antinuclear activists will launch a massive demonstration by calling upon people to surround the Jinshan power plant if Taipower does not shut it down next month, when a thorough maintenance of the plant has been scheduled by Taipower as the company seeks to retrieve spent fuel rods.