Taiwan seals Lungmen No.1 nuclear reactor

The No. 1 reactor at Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District was sealed for three years starting July 1, according to facility operator Taiwan Power Co.

All 126 systems of the unit passed extensive preoperational testing and re-examination in line with international standards last year. Dry cask storage is applied to a total of 30 systems, with the reactor and cooling system sealed in wet storage. The rest will run as usual or on a periodic basis to maintain working order.

Work on No. 2 reactor’s 115 systems is also suspended, and the unit is in dry storage for the same period of time. The total cost of both hiatuses is estimated at NT$3.4 billion (US$110.1 million).

“Preparations for sealing the reactor began in January following the announcement of a plan by the Cabinet’s Atomic Energy Council,” Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu said.

“By sealing the reactor, rather than shutting it down before public consensus can be reached on this issue, options of a low-carbon energy source remain open for future generations.”

The 480-hectare Lungmen plant is Taiwan’s fourth nuclear facility. Initiated in 1980, NT$283.8 billion has been spent to date on its planning and construction.

In response to growing public concerns over the safety of atomic power following Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, the Cabinet decided in April 2014 to put Lungmen’s construction and operation on hold until the future of the facility can be determined in a national referendum.

Taiwan’s has three operational nuclear power plants: Jinshan and Kuosheng in New Taipei, and Maanshan in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan. As the No. 1 reactor at Jinshan is scheduled for retirement in 2018, greater demands are expected to be placed on the nation’s electricity supply going forward.

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