In Taiwan, low level radioactive waste (LLRW) management regulatory activities in nuclear power plants (NPPs) have been carried out through three practices: license and specific plan review, facility and operation inspection, and regulatory meetings. The license review is normally divided into two phases: pre-construction and pre-operation. A specific plan review is implemented case by case. There are three types of inspections: specific project inspection, regular inspection, and annual inspection. In general, regular inspection is carried out once a month.
According to law, the installation of a new LLRW treatment facility may only be started upon approval following the construction license review. Operation shall only begin when its operation license application is reviewed and approved by the Atomic Energy Council (AEC).
The key regulatory activities on radioactive waste management are ensuring safe operation of the systems and reducing the volume of liquid waste effluent and solid waste. In addition, the quality of waste form complies with the regulatory requirements so that the follow-up processes like storage, transportation, and disposal can be carried out smoothly.
In 1989, the AEC issued the Strategy of Volume Reduction for LLRW, which prescribed the annual target value of solidified LLRW production for each nuclear power plant. Also, in Article 29 of the Nuclear Materials and Radioactive Waste Management Act, it is stipulated that waste producers shall be responsible for reducing the production and volume of radioactive waste. The NPPs must pre-estimate the quantities of various kinds of waste produced each year and submit a report to the AEC for approval. The AEC will also implement regular and annual inspections of the radioactive waste management in order to ensure safe operation of all treatment systems and to reduce waste production.
To reduce the volume of dry radioactive waste, Taiwan Power Company (TPC) built a Volume Reduction Center (VRC) at the Kuosheng NPP site. The Center is equipped with one supercompactor and one incinerator to process compressible and combustible waste from Chinshan NPP and Kuosheng NPP. Maanshan NPP has also built an incinerator for its combustible waste. It has been in operation since May 2002.
The High Efficiency Solidification Technology (HEST) was developed by the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER) and successfully implemented at Maanshan NPP in November 1998. Since then, solidified waste produced from the plant has been reduced dramatically, from a previous level of 400~500 drums per year to 17~25 drums per year for both units within recent years. Kuosheng NPP has also adopted similar solidification technology to further reduce solidified waste production. It has been in operation since May 2006; the annual solidified waste has been reduced from 387~446 drums to 59~62 drums.
Before constructing an LLRW storage facility, the licensee must submit relevant documents in accordance with the regulations, and construction may only be started after review and approval. During construction, the Fuel Cycle and Materials Administration (FCMA) will implement inspections of the construction work, and upon completion, the facility may only be put into operation after review and approval.
Currently, there are no permanent disposal facilities in Taiwan for radioactive waste; therefore commercial radioactive waste is stored in nuclear power plants. An LLRW storage facility, equipped with an extra degree of shielding and humidity control, with a capacity of 23,000 drums was put into operation in June 1998 at Chinshan NPP. Another LLRW storage facility with a capacity of 40,000 drums began operation in July 1996 at Kuosheng NPP. To expand future storage capacity, Chinshan NPP and Kuosheng NPP each built waste storage facilities with capacities of 70,000 and 40,000 drums respectively, which started operation in January 2007 and May 2006. Maanshan NPP also completes its new storage facility with a capacity of 30,000 drums in 2011. The operation of these facilities will improve storage safety and provide enough space.
According to the regulations, radioactive waste may be transported only when a transport plan and emergency response plan have been submitted to the FCMA for review and approval. Before each shipment, a transport manifest must be prepared and sent to the FCMA for its reference. The FCMA will send inspectors to ensure transportation safety. Additionally, when combustible and compressible dry radioactive wastes are sent to the VRC, they must be packed separately from each other in exclusive-use containers.