Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) yesterday confirmed that two mechanical problems at the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County were uncovered during the annual overhaul of the plant’s No. 2 reactor last month.
A control rod driver had become crooked, and a screw bolt on the steam generator had fractured, the company said, adding that they were the first such incidents in Taiwan.
News of the problems came weeks after Taipower reported workers had had problems recovering an addition to an anchor bolt from the reactor lid during the 35-day-long maintenance project, officials said.
Taipower spokesperson Lin Te-fu (林德福) said the control rod’s drive mechanism consists of 52 drivers and controls the fission rate of the nuclear fuel rods. Only one driver had become deformed, and it was replaced, Lin said.
However, such deformation could lead to the misplacement of a control rod when it is inserted into the central core of the reactor, Lin said.
A screw bolt on the steam generator was fractured as it was being removed, and the bolt has also been replaced, he said.
Employees of Westinghouse Electric, which built the reactor, were able to recover the stuck screw bolt used to secure the reactor’s cover lid, he said.
The stuck bolt was the focus of a heated question-and-answer session at the legislature earlier this month, with lawmakers criticizing Taipower for failing to immediately report the incident to the Atomic Energy Council and the Pingtung County Government.
The bolt was recovered through an intrusive method whereby it was cut and hollowed, and holes drilled into the reactor wall to crank out the bolt, but the holes would be repaired and a new bolt sleeve would be installed, Lin said.
Green Citizens’ Action Alliance deputy secretary-general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) said the government is running out of time to come up with alternatives to its reliance on nuclear power.
“The nation’s three operating nuclear plants are at the end of their service life, and it is when safety risk is highest. The government must review alternative energy options so that it can decommission the plants before their 40-year lifespan ends, or at least not extend their lifespans.”
The deactivation of reactor No. 2 at Ma-anshan for maintenance marked a period where half of the nation’s six operating reactors were off-line.
The two reactors of the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shimen District (石門) have been deactivated for annual maintenance since December last year. However, one is scheduled to be reactivated on Jan. 3.
Taiwan joins global anti-nuclear trend
January 18, 2017
“…..In Taiwan, the six reactors in the three active nuclear power plants will reach their 40-year operation limit by May 2025. The No 1 reactor in the Jinshan plant will reach this deadline in December 2018. The amendment ruled out any extension to operations at all nuclear reactors, and they must be closed by 2025.
Changes to the law will also see the state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) privatized within six to nine years, with its operations split between electricity generation and distribution.
Taipower currently controls power generation, transmission and distribution (grid), and power sales, but the changes will now allow new players to enter the market eliminating the monopoly that has existed for six decades. Renewable energy such as solar and wind power will be given priority to go on the grid.
The move is the government’s attempt to promote renewable energy, aiming to increase the current share of 2% to 20% of the island’s total energy generation by 2025…..”