Stop building nuclear power plants

By Teng Hon-yuan 鄧鴻源  / 

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - Page 8

A few days ago, Fubon Cultural and Educational Foundation board director Irene Chen (陳藹玲) formed an association for mothers against nuclear power and called for 100,000 mothers to hit the streets to raise public awareness about nuclear safety.

Chen said that for the future and safety of children, she refuses to accept dangerous nuclear power plants and demanded that construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), be immediately stopped.

Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) has overestimated the cost of natural gas power generation and underestimated the costs of nuclear power.

Calculations based on International Energy Agency data show that natural gas power generation in Taiwan costs at most NT$4.4 per watt, a much lower figure than the NT$5.7 that Taipower claims it costs. In addition, the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant will provide only 6 percent of Taiwan’s annual electricity needs. The average cost per watt will be just under NT$2, not all that different from the current cost of NT$2.79.

However, the future is always filled with uncertainty and there is no way of telling how much more money will have to be invested.

The US, Japan and Russia specialize in high technology, but even they have been unable to avoid nuclear disasters, so how can Taiwan assure nuclear safety?

Furthermore, these countries are much larger than Taiwan, meaning that there is more space for evacuations in the case of a disaster. What could Taiwan do?

It is very difficult to calculate just how much damage would be caused if a nuclear disaster was to occur in Taiwan.

The 1986 Chernobyl disaster resulted in many babies being born with severe birth defects and to this day, nobody dares reside within a radius of 30km of the site of the disaster.

Ukraine is a big country and it is relatively easier to evacuate people away from affected areas. However, Taiwan does not have this option. It is facing trickier and more complex problems than those other countries.

The reason for this is because throughout their course of economic growth, Western nations have had more than 200 years from the Industrial Revolution until now to adjust themselves to these problems caused by technological advances and deal with them. When they discover problems, they are able to use their self-restraint, discipline and self regulation abilities to fix them.

However, Taiwan is totally incapable of taking on the risk of a nuclear disaster.

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has become a real money pit. It would be much better to stop building it right now, before more money is wasted.

Just as Chen said, for the future and safety of our children, construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be stopped immediately.

Teng Hon-yuan is an associate professor at Aletheia University.

Translated by Drew Cameron