Tue, Apr 26, 2011 - Page 3 News List

US official lauds nuclear power future

SAFE AS HOUSES:Asked to comment on the safety of nuclear power in Taiwan, Andrew Reynolds said he believed Taiwan had the ability to ensure nuclear plant safety

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

An anti-nuclear group and singer Lee Mi, center, perform a skit titled “Rather Be Nude Than Nuclear” in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

A visiting US official yesterday said the recent radioactive leak at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan did not change his optimism about the role of nuclear power in the global energy mix.

Andrew Reynolds, deputy and chief of staff at the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, described nuclear power as a “remarkable industry” because “when you think about the safety record, it’s second to none.”

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Global Science Leaders Forum hosted by the National Science Council (NSC), Reynolds said nuclear energy would likely remain in the mix “well into the future,” as it had provided enormous amounts of electricity in several countries.

The Fukushima catastrophe in Japan has re-ignited debate on the use of nuclear power, once considered a clean energy in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.

Despite this, Reynolds said nuclear energy was essential for a low-carbon society.

“The answer is obvious. [Nuclear energy] has already contributed a huge amount of electricity that is relatively carbon-free, and that’s the point. Nuclear energy is a long-standing option that has been explored by many countries for 50 years. It is part of our life,” he said.

Koichi Kitazawa, president of Japan Science and Technology Agency, offered a different view on the use of nuclear energy during his presentation at the forum. An independent public body under Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the agency plays a key role in implementing science and technology policies, and is currently reviewing the country’s nuclear policy, with a reported expected in about two months.

“To abandon nuclear power immediately” and to implement a “denuclearization plan” should be included as options as Japan considers changing the direction of its energy policy, Kitazawa said.

Asked to comment on the safety of nuclear power in Taiwan, Reynolds said he was confident of Taiwan’s ability to review its nuclear power plants.

The six nuclear reactors in operation at Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen (石門), New Taipei City (新北市), Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli (萬里), New Taipei City, and Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, are among the 400 in the world considered “at danger,” as they are all located in high-risk earthquake areas and within a mile of the coast, a report in the Wall Street Journal said late last month.

“I think these reactors and plants would not have been built without ultimate safety in mind. They are built very well ... You have been running your reactors and plant for many years and very successfully,” Reynolds said.

Before leaving on Friday, Reynolds is scheduled to visit one of the nuclear power plants.

Officials with Taiwan Power Co, the operator of the plants, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC), the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the NSC, will accompany Reynolds and officials from the American Institute in Taiwan on a visit to Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant on Friday, said David Yao (饒大衛), director of the AEC’s Department of Planning.

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