Tue, Mar 19, 2013 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Common sense about nuclear power

The second piece of common sense: Taiwan is not only small in size, but being surrounded by water means there is no way to escape once a disaster does strike.

When the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster occurred in Japan, residents who lived within a 20km radius of the power plant were evacuated and the rest of Japan was able to keep functioning.

However, as soon as a disaster happens at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, much of the Greater Taipei area would be included within a 20km evacuation radius, with many other parts of it being very close to the outer edges of the zone.

As many as 7 million people would be affected, which would be tantamount to announcing that Taiwan is over as a country.

The risk of Taiwan ending as a country is much more serious than an airplane crash in which hundreds are killed. Also, people get on airplanes out of their own free will.

How can we allow a minority of officials decide whether construction should continue on the much more risky Fourth Nuclear Power Plant?

Are all Taiwanese supposed to take equal responsibility for a choice made by a small minority if something does happen?

Our government officials have chosen to respond to concerns about nuclear power in one way, and that is to employ technical knowledge and misinformation to scare the public.

These bureaucrats and nuclear experts claim a number of things will happen if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is not built.

First, they say that power prices will increase greatly.

Second, they have claimed that we will be short of power and that this will cause local businesses to move overseas and will also result in a loss of foreign investment.

Third, they have claimed that the financial sector will have to take on the construction costs of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, that to date stand at about NT$300 billion (US$10.1 billion), and list them as bad debts and that this would see the Taiwanese stock market incur a loss of 2,000 points.

However, the professional opinions of these “experts” can be easily refuted with common sense.

First, the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has not yet started commercial operations and as such, current power prices are what we would pay without the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant anyway.

If the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is built and starts commercial operations and we leave out the frightening follow-up costs, power may become somewhat cheaper, but even if we do not have the plant, there is no reason why power costs would be any higher than they are now.

Second, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) often maintains a reserve margin of as much as 20 percent: This causes approximately NT$40 billion in losses per year, because every 1 percent extra of reserve energy costs NT$10 billion to produce, and it is only necessary to maintain a reserve margin of 16 percent.

Also, if construction at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is halted, does that really mean we can never build another type of power station in the future?

Also, given that our current power plants have capacity utilization rates of lower than 60 percent, we would be able to increase the efficiency of power generation if we started using more efficient equipment, with higher conversion rates.

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