Taiwan reprocessing tender suspended

20 March 2015

A tender for overseas reprocessing of Taiwanese used nuclear fuel has been suspended, pending a parliamentary budget review.

In October last year a government task force recommended that used fuel from Taipower's Chinshan and Kuosheng nuclear power plants be sent abroad for reprocessing, and a tender for this was published on 17 February.

However, on 16 March the economic committee of the Legislative Yuan (parliament) invited the minister of economics, John Chen-Chung Deng, and a range of officials to report on the plan. The result was a move by the committee to demand that Taipower suspend the tender process until the budget is approved by the Legislative Yuan.

Taipower spokesman Frank Lin Der-Fwu confirmed this to World Nuclear News, adding that the company has the consent of the Ministry of Economic Affairs to comply immediately. Following government practice, Taipower will make the official 'unable to award' announcement with respect to the tender before its soliciting deadline of 8 April, he said.

According to figures from the Taiwanese nuclear safety regulator, the Atomic Energy Council, used fuel storage at the Chinshan and Kuosheng plants is approaching capacity. Chinshan's two units have capacity for 3083 used fuel assemblies but as of January there were 2982 assemblies in storage at unit 1 and 2972 assemblies at unit 2. At the Kuosheng plant, where both units have capacity for 4398 assemblies, there were 4180 and 4252 assemblies in storage at units 1 and 2, respectively.

Reprocessing prepares waste for permanent disposal and reduces its size by about 80% compared to disposing of entire fuel assemblies after use. It also recovers uranium and plutonium for recycling. The process is carried out in Britain and France, where used fuel from those countries as well as Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands has been reprocessed.

When launching the tender, Taipower said it was seeking to "promote the feasibility of overseas reprocessing of used nuclear fuel and by validating the feasibility of reprocessing abroad through a small-scale trial [and that it] hopes to provide more diverse choices and flexibility to the domestic strategy for long-term used nuclear fuel management."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News