A Japanese nuclear scientist and researcher says that if a nuclear accident occurred at one of northern Taiwan’s nuclear power plants, about 30,000 people would die within a short period of time and up to 7 million people could develop cancer from exposure to the nuclear radiation.
Hiroaki Koide, a nuclear reactor specialist who has been an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute since 1974, spoke yesterday at a civic nuclear-free forum and met environmental protection groups in Taipei over the weekend.
During his speech, he said Taiwan has one of the highest densities of nuclear power plants in the world, which is why he chose to give his first overseas speech on nuclear issues in the country.
“Constructing nuclear power plants in Taiwan is very dangerous,” he said, stressing that the population density in northern Taiwan is so high that it would be very difficult to evacuate people if a nuclear accident were to occur at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).
“The evacuation efficiency in northern Taiwan is virtually zero,” he said.
According to nuclear accident simulations he has run, people living in Taipei and New Taipei City’s (新北市) Yonghe (永和), Jhonghe (中和), Banciao (板橋), Sanchong (三重), Lujhou (蘆洲) and Pingsi (平溪) would all be directly affected by radiation, leading to an estimated 30,000 deaths in the first month after any such incident and up to 7 million possibly dying of cancer in the following years.
Nuclear power plants are not designed to be constructed on fault zones, he said, adding that Taiwan and Japan are both countries which suffer frequent seismic activity.
Therefore, it is very dangerous to have plants built on unstable strata, especially when operating power plants in Taiwan are considered old and the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which is under construction, is being assembled using components from different manufacturers.
Japan used to have high hopes for nuclear power, but since it began relying on it electricity prices have not dropped as much as predicted and the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear crisis last year has exposed many people to nuclear radiation, he said, adding “regrets will come too late if an accident occurs.”
He also suggested that if Taiwan can increase electricity generation from other power sources, it should close its existing nuclear power plants and halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
James Kuo (郭國榮), an engineer with 25 years of experience working on nuclear power at General Electric, also participated in the forum. He recently visited the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and said the nation still lacks professionalism in managing nuclear power, adding that the government often misleads people by saying that nuclear power is a cheap means of generating electricity.
“Nuclear power may be cheaper, but operating costs and maintenance are more expensive, so hydroelectric power, wind power and even coal-fired power are all cheaper in the long-term than nuclear power,” he said.
Koide also met with an environmental protection group yesterday to exchange thoughts and experiences on nuclear power issues before leaving Taiwan.
SURPRISE GUEST: Media reports identified the visitor as Admiral Michael Studeman, director of the J2, which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command A two-star US Navy admiral overseeing US military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has made an unannounced visit to Taiwan, two sources told Reuters on Sunday. The sources, who include a Taiwanese official familiar with the situation, said the official was Rear Admiral Michael Studeman. They were speaking on condition of anonymity. After initially saying on Sunday night that it had no comment about the report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the visit of an “unidentified US official,” but declined to give more details because the trip “has not been made public.” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday
AUTUMN STRUGGLE: The KMT and TPP set up stages on the rally’s sidelines, while Want Want boss Tsai Eng-meng said the DPP was curtailing freedom of speech Tens of thousands of people in Taipei yesterday took part in the “Autumn Struggle” (秋鬥) — an annual protest march by labor groups — but with this year’s focus on rejecting the government’s plan to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine residue. “Against poisonous pork, against double standards, against a party-state,” the protesters, mostly wearing black, chanted in front of the rally’s main stage on Ketagalan Boulevard at about noon, before a parade set off at 2pm. Autumn Struggle spokesperson Lee Chien-cheng (李建誠) said this year’s march was divided into three teams, with the first team urging food safety and labor
DEFENSE: The construction of indigenous submarines will be a testament to the nation’s commitment to safeguard its sovereignty, President Tsai Ing-wen said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday presided over a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the nation’s first indigenous submarine at state-run shipbuilder CSBC Corp’s (台灣國際造船) shipyard in Kaohsiung. “This submarine is an important part of allowing our navy to develop asymmetric warfare and to intimidate and block enemy ships from surrounding Taiwan’s main island,” Tsai said. “With the construction of the submarine to its future commission, we will certainly let the world know our persistence in safeguarding our sovereignty.” Tsai has made boosting the nation’s indigenous defense capacity a central pillar of her defense policy. She recently relaunched the
TIMELINE QUESTIONS: Chen Shih-chung said: ‘If anyone could assure us that we could get the shots in the first quarter of next year, we could set off firecrackers’ Taiwan has secured nearly 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported five new imported infections among travelers from Indonesia and the Philippines. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that Taiwan on Monday signed a procurement contract with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer and paid a deposit to secure 10 million doses. It was the first contract finalized with a manufacturer and negotiations are under way with three other vaccine makers, Chen said. With the more than 4.6 million doses that can be obtained through the COVAX platform —