Regulatory control over LLRW final disposal
To facilitate the safety management of LLRW final disposal, the Fuel Cycle and Materials Administration (FCMA), as authorized by Article 21 of "Nuclear Materials and Radioactive Waste Management Act", promulgated the "Regulations on Final Disposal of Low Level Waste and Safety Management of the Facilities" on Sep. 10, 2003. The FCMA amended them on Dec. 30, 2005, Jan. 24, 2008, Oct. 22, 2008, and Nov. 24, 2010. The main stipulations of the Regulations are classification of LLRW, quality standards for waste form, site selection criteria, and design of and operation requirements for final disposal facilities.
When selecting final disposal sites, natural and social environmental characteristics like geology, hydrology, geochemistry, population and economic development shall all be considered to ensure the safety of the disposal facilities. The Atomic Energy Council (AEC) has clearly specified in Article 4 of the "Act on Sites for Establishment of Low Level Radioactive Waste Final Disposal Facility", which was promulgated on May 24, 2006, that the site of a disposal facility must not be located in any of the following areas
- Areas where active faulting or geological conditions could endanger the safety of the disposal facility,
- Areas where the geochemical conditions are unfavorable for effectively suppressing the diffusion of radioactive nuclides, and are likely to endanger the safety of the disposal facility,
- Areas where surface or underground hydrologic conditions are likely to endanger the safety of disposal facility,
- Areas of high population density, and
- Areas that cannot be developed according to the law.
Five stages of regulatory control
- Site selection
Identify potential sites through regional surveys and preliminary site investigations by Taiwan Power Company (TPC), and then select one or more candidate sites from the list. During the selection, the referenda shall be held after the implementing authority, MOEA announces Recommended Candidate Sites. Based on the result of the referenda, MOEA shall determine Candidate sites. Finally, the conclusions of the Environmental Impact Assessment shall be submitted to the Executive Yuan for approval of disposal site.
- Environmental impact assessment
To prevent and mitigate harm to the environment by the development of disposal facilities, an Environmental Impact Assessment shall be carried out on candidate sites. Only after the review and approval by the competent authority in charge of environmental protection, will the development of the disposal site be started.
TPC shall submit a safety analysis report (SAR) on the disposal facility to the AEC to obtain a construction license. The work shall be started after the license is issued. During construction, FCMA will dispatch inspectors to ensure the quality of the construction.
Upon completion of the construction, the operator (TPC) shall first submit a pre-operational plan to AEC for approval. Upon completion of the pre-operation, TPC shall submit the latest SAR, facility operation technical specifications, pre-operation report and incident response plan to AEC to apply for an operation license. During operation, FCMA will dispatch inspectors for safety inspection and environmental monitoring to ensure the safety of waste disposal.
- Closure and post-operation monitoring
When the disposal capacity is full, TPC shall submit a closure plan and an institutional control plan to AEC for approval and shall implement the two plans after they have been approved by AEC. Once the radioactivity has decayed to a harmless level, TPC shall apply to AEC for approval for the re-utilization or exemption from institutional control of the land where the facility is located.
- Legal framework for site selection
In accordance with the "Nuclear Materials and Radioactive Waste Management Act", AEC has published the "Regulations on Final Disposal of Low Level Radioactive Waste and Safety Management of Facilities" to ensure safe disposal of LLRW and protect the public. The "Act on Sites for Establishment of Low Level Radioactive Waste Final Disposal Facility", in which "the competent authority" refers to the AEC, and "the implementing authority" refers to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), lays down a legal process for selecting an LLRW disposal site and ensures it complies with principles of fairness, justice, and openness. In accordance with this Act, the MOEA has organized a site selection group in Aug. 2006.
- Final disposal plan for low level waste
In accordance with the stipulations in "Nuclear Materials and Radioactive Waste Management Act" and its Enforcement Rules, AEC demanded the main producer of LLRW, TPC, submit an LLRW final disposal plan. The "Final Disposal Plan for Low Level Radioactive Waste" was approved by AEC on Jan. 16, 2004 and revised in Apr. 2007. To ensure the waste disposal is implemented strictly in accordance with the plan and on schedule, AEC has demanded TPC submit a progress report on the Final Disposal Plan for LLRW every 6 months, which shall include site selection, site characterization plan, design and construction, schedule, plan implementation and communication with the general public.
Recent Progress of LLRW final disposal
After releasing the “Report on the Selection of Recommended Candidate Sites” at the end of March, 2011, MOEA announced Nantien Village and Hsiaochiuyu Islet as Recommended Candidate Sites on July 3, 2012, and will hold local referenda to determine the Candidate Sites.