Mon, Apr 28, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Academia Sinica wades into debate on nuclear power

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Barricades on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei are covered in anti-nuclear banners ahead of an anti-nuclear demonstration yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

More than two dozen researchers at the Academia Sinica released a joint statement yesterday, calling for political parties to establish a workable and reasonable mechanism for a national referendum on construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant before the facility becomes operational.

“There is still time for rational discussions before the power plant at New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) becomes operational,” said the joint statement of 25 researchers, released on the same day as an anti-nuclear rally in Taipei yesterday.

The petitioners included Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), National Taiwan University president Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池), 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) and former department of health director-general Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁).

Taiwanese worry about the controversial power plant for good reasons, the researchers said.

Initiated in the 1980s, the project was suspended after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 and again halted in 2000 under the Democratic Progressive Party administration. With various contractors brought in to build the plant in different stages, Taiwan’s ability to deal with a nuclear emergency would be in question, the statement said.

Additionally, the researchers said that the government has never formulated a complete set of energy policies that include plans to reduce carbon emission and to develop renewable energy sources.

Nor does the government have the know-how to process nuclear waste with current nuclear waste storage facilities in Taiwan almost at full capacity, they said, adding that methods the nation used to deal with the waste — ocean disposal or burial and exporting — were expensive.

More importantly, there are six nuclear reactors in Taiwan among the 12 most dangerous reactors listed in a 2011 Natural Resource Defense Council report as being in very high seismic hazard areas, the statement said.

“A nuclear crisis, be it the result of a natural disaster or human error, in northern Taiwan would be devastating,” they said.

While some countries not in the seismic zones listed nuclear energy as one of their solutions for carbon emission reduction, nuclear energy would be a risky option for Taiwan, the statement said, adding that the government should work diligently on risk assessment and development of renewable energy sources.

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