Nuclear power advocate Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), who initiated next month’s referendum question about restarting the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮), is behaving like a hoodlum.
During a televised debate with Taiwan Power Co’s Nuclear Power Division head Hsu Yung-hui (許永輝), who opposes the initiative, Huang said: “You should watch your mouth.”
“Are your affairs in order?” Hsu later asked.
Huang’s apparent threat to Hsu and his family has rightly caused a stink, but Hsu’s reply deserves equal attention.
“You have never so much as turned a wrench inside any of Taiwan’s nuclear power plants, nor have you escorted colleagues through them,” Hsu said.
“Don’t tell me how much you love the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant,” Hsu added. “If you are saying that you want me to expose my family and other Taiwanese families to the risk of radiological contamination, I’m telling you I won’t do it!”
Hsu’s reply should be reflected upon by pan-blue camp politicians who embrace nuclear power without being able to guarantee its safety, as well as selfish “not in my backyard” individuals who support nuclear power so long as the waste is not stored in their communities.
As Huang tried to demonstrate that spent nuclear fuel is “not harmful,” he rather bizarrely compared the spent fuel stored on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) to the fictional Japanese Gundam battle robots called “mobile suits.”
Huang has criticized the residents of Orchid Island for “irrationally” claiming that their health has been harmed by radioactive material stored on the island.
Huang has said that the island’s residents only oppose the storage facility because they are “angling for compensation.” Huang’s level of ignorance is truly astonishing.
The thorniest aspect of spent nuclear fuel is radiation dosage and radiation half-life. High-level radioactive waste — spent nuclear fuel — has a half-life of more than 100,000 years and the radiation dose is more than 10 million times the normal natural background value. This requires long-term, tightly controlled isolation to prevent the radiation from causing harm to organisms.
Concern over the way nuclear waste is handled is shared in societies the world over. Many people are deeply fearful that serious harm could be caused were an accident to occur. Despite this, Huang compared nuclear waste to a Gundam “mobile suit.” His extreme ignorance and loutish behavior deserves condemnation by all intellectually honest members of the public.
Regarding Orchid Island, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government in 1975 did not inform residents that the Longmen area had been selected as a nuclear waste storage site, falsely saying that it was constructing a pineapple factory to promote the local economy. Aboriginal elders signed the agreement for the “factory” because they could not read Chinese characters.
In 1982, the facility began to receive and store low-level nuclear waste. After the facility was exposed and a scandal erupted, the Tao community asked for the waste to be removed. In 1988, they launched a campaign to “drive away evil spirits.”
Huang characterized the nuclear waste as a form of “social welfare” given to the islanders by the government, the inference being that the islanders are only after money. The man’s disingenuousness knows no bounds.
Chin Ching is an educator.
Translated by Edward Jones
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