Nuke plant's fuel rods to be shipped to U.S.

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Taipei (CNA) - Starting in June, the 1,744 fuel rods purchased to operate Taiwan's No. 4 Nuclear Power Plant will be shipped back to the United States at a cost of NT$700 million (US$24 million), Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) said Thursday.

Taiwan paid NT$8 billion for the fuel rods, which now will be shipped to the U.S. where Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas, LLC will try to help find buyers for them.

Taiwan decided to mothball the nuclear power plant plant when it was near completion in April 2014. At that point, it had spent NT$283.8 billion building the plant.

The latest move by Taipower means there is almost no chance of a nuclear power reactor operating at the plant which is located in Gongliao, New Taipei.

The fuel rods are to be sent to the U.S. company in eight shipments by 2020, allowing savings of NT$100 million annually from not having to pay for their upkeep locally, according to Taipower.

The Democratic Progressive Party government, which took office in May 2016, has announced its intention to make Taiwan a nuclear-free homeland by 2025.

Under this policy, the two reactors at the No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant will be phased out by the end of 2018 and June next year, respectively.

Currently, Taiwan's nuclear power is supplied by the nation's No. 3 nuclear power plant and the No. 1 reactor at the No. 2 plant, where the No. 2 reactor is also due to be restarted pending approval by the authorities.

(By Huang Ya-chuan and S.C. Chang)