Cablegate: Report of the 26th Meeting of the American

Published: Tue 22 Dec 2009 11:12 PM
DE RUEHC #0336 3562321
R 222312Z DEC 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) The 26th meeting of the AIT-TECRO JSCCNC was held in
Kaohsiung, Taiwan on October 26-27, 2009. The two sides
discussed collaboration in the areas of nuclear reactor
safety and regulation, radioactive waste management,
emergency management, nuclear fuel research, safeguards,
nuclear medicine, and other peaceful uses of nuclear
technologies. The discussions were positive and productive.
Participants discussed Taiwan,s interest in advanced nuclear
reactor research, with AIT expressing the view that Very High
Temperature Reactors are a more fruitful area for bilateral
exchanges than other Generation IV reactors, such as Molten
Salt Reactors. As a result of these discussions, TECRO
informed AIT of its desire to pursue only materials-related
technology development in connection with advanced reactors.
The JSCCNC meeting was followed by a visit to Taiwan,s
nearly completed fourth nuclear power plant (Lungmen) to view
the status of construction. A full summary record of the
meeting, including copies of slides from presentations, is
available from DOS/ISN/NESS.
2. (U) On October 26 and 27, 2009, the AIT-TECRO JSCCNC met
for the 26th time in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The Head of
Delegation on the TECRO side was Dr. Der-Jhy Shieh, Deputy
Minister of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Principal
Coordinator for the Taipei Economic and Cultural
Representative Office (TECRO). The Head of Delegation on the
AIT side was Dr. Alex R. Burkart, Deputy Director of the
Office of Nuclear Energy, Safety and Security (NESS), U.S.
Department of State (DOS). The Taiwan delegation included
representatives from TECRO, AEC, the Coordination Council for
North American Affairs (CCNAA), the Fuel Cycle and Materials
Administration (FCMA), the Institute of Nuclear Energy
Research (INER), Taiwan Radiation Monitoring Center (TRMC),
Taiwan Power Company (TPC), and the National Tsing-Hwa
University (NTHU). The AIT delegation included
representatives from the Department of State, the American
Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the Department of Energy (DOE),
DOE the Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC), DOE Sandia National Laboratory
(SNL), and DOE Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
3. (U) A particular emphasis in the 2009 meeting was the
prospect of a renaissance of the nuclear industry stemming
from the shared international concern about climate change,
global warming, and the potential of nuclear power as an
alternative source of clean energy. This was the message
expressed by Dr Shieh, who also emphasized the importance of
addressing concerns about nuclear safety, safeguards and
waste management as a means to overcome public disapproval of
the growth of the nuclear power industry.
4. (U) The message conveyed by both Mr. Christian Castro,
Branch Chief of the AIT Kaohsiung Office, and Dr. Burkart was
one of enhanced collaboration in which the United States is
working bilaterally and multilaterally to ensure that
emerging nuclear power countries recognize the importance of
pursuing nuclear power the right way. Dr. Burkart and Dr.
Chuen-Horng Tsai, Minister Chairman of the AEC, outlined some
of the changes and challenges that the new administrations in
the United States and Taiwan face regarding nuclear energy
policies and international cooperation on safe, secure and
more proliferation-resistant nuclear power development.
5. (U) According to Dr. Tsai, the transition in Taiwan from
the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to the Kuomingtang
(KMT) was quite fortunate for the nuclear industry because
the new administration has proven to be supportive of nuclear
energy developments. In early June of 2008, Taiwan announced
the Energy Policy Directive8, which outlines
the strategic goals for energy conservation, the increase of
the percentage of low carbon energy sources and the
consideration of nuclear power as a carbon-free energy
option. As Dr. Tsai noted, this directive was considered the
first sign of a rollback of the DPP,s anti-nuclear policies.
In mid-April 2009, Taiwan held the National Energy
Conference8 to provide guidelines on Taiwan,s future energy
strategies. Dr. Tsai recalled Premier Liu,s concluding
remarks, where Liu referred to nuclear power as an existing
reality and a transition source of energy needed to achieve a
low carbon society, urging the administration to guarantee
nuclear power safety, advance nuclear waste treatment
technologies and strengthen transparency and proper oversight
6. (U) Dr. Tsai pointed out that following the Conference,
Taiwan issued an action program, approved by the Executive
Yuan in July 2009, consisting of sixteen integrated action
plans, showing a commitment to safe, secure nuclear power
development. These action plans include assessing the
reasonable use of nuclear power, for which the AEC is
responsible, promoting the development of human resources in
energy technology, and fostering an energy program under the
National Science and Technology Program of the National
Science Council, supported by the AEC and under which all
nuclear related projects will fall. Examples of such
projects include research on the safety analysis capability
for Generation III and III light water reactors, and basic
studies on Molten Salt Reactors (MSR), including material
characteristics and their use as actinide burners.
7. (U) In his plenary briefing, Dr. Wei-Chi Wang, Deputy
Director of the AEC,s Planning Department, presented graphs
illustrating Taiwan,s reliance on coal burning plants. The
figures showed that the island,s power system in 2008 had an
installed capacity of about 42% coal, while nuclear power
accounted for about 11% of installed capacity. Of the
electricity generated during 2008, about 55% was from coal
and 17% from nuclear power. The three nuclear power plants
(NPP) (six reactors) generated a total of 40.83
TeraWatt-hours of electricity during 2008, a record high and
an increase of 0.7% over the previous year. Taiwan is
presently discussing the addition of new nuclear units,
possibly four more units to be constructed at the Lungmen
site starting in 2013, with two more units to be added later.
The hope is to have six additional units completed within
eight years.
8. (U) According to Dr. Wang, there have been safety
improvements over the years in Taiwan,s three operating NPP,
Chinshan, Kuosheng, and Maanshan. However, the number of
safety violations at the Fourth NPP, still under
construction, has increased during the past three years, with
a total of seven violations as of October 2009. The problems
experienced by the Fourth NPP (Lungmen) include poor
engineering management, late involvement of the utility in
the development process, inadequate design, construction
flaws, management problems arising from too high a level of
trust in the contractors, delays, soaring vendor prices,
unexpected changes in design, equipment delivery delays by
the vendors, and regulatory disputes. Major ongoing
regulatory activities within the AEC,s nuclear regulation
department include the power uprate of operating NPPs,
reactor oversight and significance determination processes,
processing of transient analysis methodology licensing
applications, a ten year integrated safety assessment of the
Chinshan NPP, and implementation of maintenance rules and
inspection of Lungmen Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR)
9. (U) Mr. Wang mentioned that 24,000 radiation protection
permits for equipment and materials and 8,800 personnel
certificates were issued as of February 2009. In addition,
an online reporting system was established to strengthen
radiation control measures. As for radioactive waste
management concerns, TPC has significantly reduced the total
output of solidified low level waste (LLW) from its three
NPPs from about 12,000 drums in 1983 to 253 drums in 2008
thanks to the successful implementation of the high
efficiency solidification technologies developed by INER,
including the Pressurized Water Reactor High Efficiency
Solidification Technology (PWRHEST) implemented at the
Maanshan NPP, and the Boiling Water Reactor High Efficiency
Solidification Technology (BWRHEST) used at the Kuosheng NPP.
Mr. Wang also indicated that Taiwan,s Ministry of Economic
Affairs (MOEA) is expected to make a formal announcement of
the proposed sites for final disposal of LLW by the end 2009.
A final candidate site will be determined by an island-wide
referendum held. Two potential candidates are Nanten
Village, in the very South of Taiwan, and Dongjiyu Islet.
However, following MOEA,s preliminary suggestion of
Dongjiyu, Penghu County indicated the Islet is a nature
conservation reserve, an announcement that might change
MOEA,s decision.
10. (U) According to Mr. Wang, Taiwan,s emergency response
programs have also experienced improvements this year as a
result of the lessons learned from typhoon Morakot, which
prompted a disaster review meeting to develop a series of
action plans to prepare for nuclear emergencies. Taiwan has
also been actively involved in education and public outreach
programs, especially for youth. The programs include science
and environmental protection fairs, nuclear training camps
for school teachers, and educational videos on official
websites. In the beginning of October, the AEC established
freedom of information action teams tasked with two initial
duties, namely to study the feasibility of, and set
guidelines for, public participation in AEC,s activities,
and to draft criteria and procedures for public inspections,
exemptions, requests for withholding, and other requests.
These criteria and procedures will be developed utilizing
USNRC 1-CRF2.390 as a reference, and will be included in
Taiwan,s of Government Information Law8.
11. (U) The updates from the AIT side included the status of
fire protection regulations and related activities in the
United States, implementation of maintenance practices and
modifications to minimize the clogging of sump strainers in
pressurized water reactors, development of interim staff
guidance on performance of digital instrumentation and
control reviews, status of power uprates applications, the
NRC license renewal program activities, the status of the
design certifications being evaluated by the NRC, an overview
of the advanced reactor program within the Office of New
Reactors, and updates of the new uranium enrichment
facilities anticipated to be built in the United States. NRC
also provided Taiwan with information on its Multinational
Design Evaluation Program, established to develop
international cooperation on design reviews and the pursuit
of convergence of codes and standards. Currently 10 national
authorities take part in the new reactor reviews, while
others participate as observers.
12. (U) DOE briefed Taiwan on the activities of DOE,s Office
of Nuclear Energy (NE) to promote nuclear power as a resource
to meet the United States, energy, environmental, and
national security needs. DOE/NE provided information on
several of its research and development programs aimed at
resolving technical, financial, safety, security, and
regulatory barriers faced by nuclear power programs. Among
the programs highlighted were Power 20108 -
designed to foster government-industry partnerships to speed
up identification of new sites for the construction of
nuclear power plants, and the Generation Nuclear
Plant8, a government-industry partnership to accelerate
commercialization of Generation IV technologies in the United
States. DOE/NE also emphasized international collaborations
that the office has established with several countries around
the globe and with international organizations to develop and
implement the new framework for civil nuclear cooperation,
focused on nuclear fuel assurances and infrastructure
development. Other opportunities for international research
cooperation mentioned by DOE/NE were generation III reactor
deployment and applications, fuel services, and radioactive
waste management.
13. (U) DOE also introduced Taiwan to DOE,s Global Threat
Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which cooperates with countries
to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological
materials at civilian sites worldwide. GTRI provided a
presentation on its efforts working with countries worldwide
on ensuring the security of high-activity radioactive
sources. Taiwan was invited to participate with GTRI in a
cooperative project on radioactive source security.
14. (SBU) Taiwan,s Ministry of Economic Affairs, the AEC,
the National Tsing Hua University, and AIT delegates from DOE
and DOS also held discussions on the margins of the meeting
regarding the replacement of Taiwan,s nuclear cooperation
agreement with the United States (upon expiration of the
existing agreement), MOEA,s point of view on spent fuel
management, and Taiwan,s interest in Molten Salt Reactors
(MSR). With regard to the replacement of the current
bilateral cooperation agreement, Dr. Burkart stated the need
to include provisions specified in the 1978 amendment to the
Atomic Energy Act (pursuant to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Act of 1978). These provisions were not present when the
agreement was initially negotiated in 1972 and amended in
1974. In addition, he recommended to include language to
reflect the application of full-scope safeguards in Taiwan,
and Taiwan,s lack of intent to pursue enrichment and
reprocessing technology. Including that additional language
would be a means to record present reality and to give Taiwan
credit for its nonproliferation efforts.
15. (SBU) Chin-Shan Lee, Deputy Director, Department of
Nuclear Backend Management of Taiwan Power Company informed
the AIT delegation that in order to deal with spent fuel
management, Taiwan is interested in shipping its spent fuel
overseas for reprocessing (France is an option). However,
problems with the return of the waste still need to be
resolved. A significant practical barrier in the development
of an agreement between Areva and TPC for transfer of spent
fuel from Taiwan to France is the fact that France requires
return of the high level waste to the originator. However,
France is worried about the possibility of Taiwan refusing to
take the waste back at the time of its return. Areva had
proposed that France enter into an agreement with the United
States, where the U.S. would agree to receive the waste in
case Taiwan refuses to do so. Dr. Burkart emphasized that
the United States wants a clear understanding of what will
happen with the fuel and its full transfer process, and it
may be possible for this to be incorporated in a legally
binding agreement between AIT and TECRO. However, the United
States will not conclude a second agreement with France to
receive the waste in the event of a Taiwan,s refusal.
16. (SBU) An important issue discussed was Taiwan,s future
reactor studies, and NTHU,s interest in performing
preliminary studies on MSRs. The reason for the
attractiveness of the MSR to Taiwan is based on its potential
role as an actinide burner, which represents a possible
solution to the spent fuel problem. NTHU sees research on
the topic as an innovative contribution Taiwan could make to
the international community. So far, NTHU,s work on MSRs
has been limited mostly to literature review in the area of
materials structure and studies of corrosion as it relates to
high temperature alloys, with some purely theoretical studies
of reactor physics.
17. (SBU) Dr. Burkart stated that MSRs would not be a
fruitful area of cooperation with the United States since the
United States is not doing, or planning to do, any work on
that area. Rather, for bilateral exchanges the United States
is interested in gas-cooled reactors, especially Very High
Temperature Reactors. Scientists from NTHU voiced their
desire for the research not to be only domestic but
international, which would give it transparency. However,
Dr. Burkart pointed out the absence of international programs
on MSRs for Taiwan to plug into. As a result of the dialogs,
Taiwan stated that its new proposal for international
cooperation would not focus on the reactor but rather on high
temperature material development, material behavior and basic
phenomenological properties, carbon-carbon composites, molten
salts, and the application of salts in secondary loops.
18. (SBU) The JSCCNC meeting was followed by a visit to
Taiwan,s nearly completed fourth nuclear power plant, the
Lungmen facility, in Gongliao, Taipei, where the delegation
could view the status of its construction. TPC briefed AIT
on the status of the Lungmen project, including construction
and testing of Unit I, the damage on Unit II resulting from
the flooding caused by Typhoon Sinlaku in 2008 and lessons
learned from the experience, and the digital instrumentation
and control (I) system and simulator used on Lungmen. TPC
indicated that the cause of the flooding of the buildings in
Unit II was related to the flow of the inundating waters and
the construction configuration, not to plant design or the
expected final configuration. TPC is in the process of
repairing and/or replacing and retesting the damaged
19. (SBU) The delegation toured the turbine, reactor, and
control buildings of Unit I, and saw a demonstration of the
simulator in action. Lungmen is designed to have two
advanced boiling water reactors manufactured by General
Electric Co. The steam turbine generator was manufactured by
Mitsubishi and the radwaste and related system equipment by
Hitachi. The Lungmen project was supposed to be 90.47%
complete as of August 2009, although the figure was judged by
TPC to be unrealistic. Unit I has experienced several
suspensions, design and construction problems, which Dr.
James Lin, Deputy Director of TPC,s Nuclear Engineering
Department, told AIT caused the commercial operation date to
be extended and the budget to be increased several times,
most recently to 2011 with a budget of $8.6 billion.
20. (SBU) In the reactor building, the delegation observed
the exposed reactor vessel, with the vessel head and
shielding stacked in sections on the refueling deck. The
delegation observed the empty spent fuel pool adjacent to the
reactor, and the spent fuel and proposed fuel storage area
located behind the spent fuel pool. NRC experts noted that
walks though the top level of the turbine building and the
refueling floor level of the reactor building revealed some
poor housekeeping practices and some industrial safety
concerns, including the lack of safety glasses on staff. It
was unclear whether there was any requirement for wearing
safety glasses. In the simulator, the delegation observed
several demonstrations at the fully functioning simulator,
including NRC,s request for simulation of a large break loss
of coolant accident (LOCA) with common mode failure of all
four safety divisions, digital instruments and controls.
21. (U) The AIT-TECRO JSCCNC meetings included meetings by
three working groups. Working Group I addressed
Pertaining to Reactor Regulation and Regulatory Research8
and was chaired by William Ruland, Director of the Division
of Safety Systems in NRC,s Office of Nuclear Reactor
Regulation, and Yi-Bin Chen, Director of the AEC,s
Department of Nuclear Regulation. AIT briefed TECRO on the
U.S. national source tracking system, gas accumulation
management, BWR sump strainer blockage issues, and the
regulatory decision-making process for license renewal.
TECRO gave a presentation on radiation sources management in
Taiwan. During their discussions, AEC and NRC reiterated
their commitment to support and pursue the renewal of AEC,s
Cooperative Severe Accident Research Program (CSARP), which
is expected to be completed and signed by AIT and TECRO in
early 2010. In addition, NRC agreed to host an AEC assignee
for eight months in the Office of New Reactors, to work on
seismic design and siting criteria. AEC will provide NRC
with the most updated Lungmen pre-op testing schedule, while
both agencies work to coordinate a visit from NRC,s Office
of New Reactor staff to the Lungmen NPP, probably in late
spring or early summer of 2010, with the purpose of observing
the testing of the plant,s simulator.
22. (U) NRC agreed to provide to the AEC a copy of its
Report8 as is required by parties to the
Convention of Nuclear Safety. The AEC promised to provide
its equivalent report to NRC in October 2010 for comments.
NRC invited two trainees from AEC to participate in a
five-week training program on BWR simulator and technology
review, and reactor safety, followed by a week of inspection
activity and technical exchange with Region II and tour of
the Watts Bar facility. In the area of digital
instrumentation and control, the agencies will be planning a
workshop for April 2010. Another area of cooperation between
AEC and NRC is fire protection, where a workshop is currently
scheduled for March 2010. Finally, NRC agreed to provide AEC
with information on void criteria associated with gas
accumulation in Emergency Core Cooling Systems, and
information and lessons learned regarding international
collaboration on sump issues. There will be a follow-up
between the two agencies regarding the National Source
Tracking System (NSTS) exchange. They anticipate holding
their next bilateral exchange in May 2010.
23. (U) Working Group II handled Pertaining to
Waste Management and Environmental Restoration8. The Chairs
of this group were Hong-Nian Jow, from SNL,s Global Security
Engagement & International Safeguards program, and
Ching-Tsuen Huang, Director General of the FCMA.
Presentations on the design of an information management
system for a spent fuel interim dry storage facility, the
status of radiation waste management in the U.S., the Yucca
Mountain project, and the status of commercial low level
waste disposal in the U.S., were provided in this working
group. The FCMA agreed to prepare, issue, and send in
mid-2010 the second version of a draft report equivalent to a
Report8 under the Joint convention on the Safety
of Spent Fuel and the Safety of Radioactive Waste to the U.S.
DOE for peer review. FMCA will also send to NRC, during the
first half of 2010, the proposal for a workshop on the
and disposal practices of irregular waste forms8.
24. (U) Working Group III dealt with the topic of
Nuclear Technology8. This group was chaired by Elizabeth
Lisann, Team Leader of DOE,s Office of Nuclear Energy, and
Taun-Ran Yeh, Director General of INER. The topics discussed
included health physics, technical safety support,
radioisotope production, and applications and safeguarding of
nuclear materials. In addition, NNSA presented Taiwan with
the possibility of jointly developing two training courses:
the first, a Radiation Emergency Assistance Training course
to familiarize medical responders and hospital personnel with
the treatment of radiation injuries; and the second, the
International Radiological Assistance Program Training for
Emergency Response on search and identification techniques in
response to radiological incidents. The training courses
would be presented simultaneously during the second or third
quarter of 2010. TECRO also received an update on the status
of nondestructive waste assay (NDA) measurements for the
Spent Fuel Stabilization Project at INER,s Taiwan Research
Reactor (TRR). TECRO thanked AIT for resolving difficulties
in acquiring US radiation shielding software. Taiwan
expressed interest in developing cooperative activities in
the area of health physics. AIT agreed to provide TECRO with
contact information for the appropriate coordinator for
radioisotope productions and applications.
25. (U) Department thanks AIT/T and AIT/K for their
assistance in organizing the JSCCNC meeting. Main point of
contact in AIT/T is John W. Hicks (,
886-2-2162-2000 x2013). Points of contact in the Department
are Dr. Alex R. Burkart (, 202-647-2950)
and Dr. Zaira Nazario (, 202-647-8229).
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