Taipower readies 2nd batch of nuclear fuel rods for U.S. return

Taipei, A convoy of 12 vehicles believed to be carrying a second batch of unused fuel rod bundles purchased for the fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei City were seen arriving at a pier in Keelung Port at around 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Although state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) declined to confirm or deny reports, the convoy was escorted by more than 200 police officers and over 100 police cars, departing Longmen Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei's Gongliao District at midnight. The cargo is expected to be loaded onto a ship in Keelung and returned to the U.S. later this month.

If confirmed this would be the second shipment to be returned to the U.S. after a first batch of 80 unused fuel rod bundles transported by eight vehicles was reportedly shipped from Keelung Port on July 4.

Taipower plans to send the 1,744 fuel rod bundles from the No. 4 nuclear plant back to the U.S. in installments. The second batch of 120 bundles is scheduled for shipment this month, according to media reports.

The dismantling and shipping process will cost the government about NT$690 million (US$22.43 million) but removing the 1,744 rods from the plant could save about NT$140 million in annual maintenance costs, according to Taipower.

Taiwan decided to mothball the nuclear power plant when it was near completion in April 2014 amid growing public concern over its operation.

The Democratic Progressive Party government, which took office in May 2016, ran on a platform of making Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel