Taiwan’s nuclear power plants are safe, expert says

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Wed, May 08, 2013 - Page 3

Replacing nuclear power with coal-fired or fuel-fired energy sources would result in more casualties, a Hong Kong nuclear engineering expert said in a speech at the Presidential Office yesterday, adding that Taiwan’s nuclear power plants were safe.

City University of Hong Kong president Kao Way (郭位) made the comments in his speech on nuclear power as the keynote speaker at the Presidential Office’s monthly meeting.

He said that while nuclear power sources accounted for 13 percent of energy globally, coal-fired power, which is responsible for 40 percent of global energy, is the most dangerous energy source, as more than 100,000 people die every year due to mining accidents.

According to an unpublished report by NASA, about 1.8 million people around the world would die in the next 50 years if nuclear power was entirely replaced with coal-fired and fuel-fired power, and about 6,000 people in Taiwan would die, he said.

“I do not support nuclear power, and neither am I against it. I hope people will rationally explore the relationship between energy and the environment,” he said.

Kao’s speech on nuclear power came amid ongoing disputes over the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao Dictrict (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).

Following Kao’s speech, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) asked whether nuclear power is a global trend or if anti-nuclear power movements have just become a hot topic.

Kao said the development of nuclear power has slowed down in the past two years, but it should not be interpreted as a result of a rise in opposition to nuclear power.

Japan and Taiwan are the two nations that have most serious debates on the issue, and the most countries support nuclear power, he said.

He also defended the safety of nuclear power plants in Taiwan despite growing concerns about the issue among Taiwanese.

In a safety assessment on nuclear power plants in more than 30 nations that depend on nuclear power, the three nuclear power plants in Taiwan are listed high on the safety list, while the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan was ranked 26 in the safety list.

“The three nuclear power plants in Taiwan have maintained a good record in the past 30 years, and Taiwan should be proud of the safety of its power plants,” he said.

In response to public concerns about the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, he said the key issue would be whether the plant is equipped with a good automated control system in case the system suffered operational problems.