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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Nuke em and Duke em in Daya Bay - Chinese go for nuclear power

I sure hope the Chinese, latecomers to the nuclear power club, learn the lessons from nations that've had accidents. Short of a terrorist attack (to which China is not particularly vulnerable) you can build a safe nuclear power plant if you're willing to foot the bill for safeguards.

Maybe they could take a look at the air pollution caused by the millions of cars that Chinese are buying. There's no requirement for smog control devices on cars sold in China. The air quality in urban areas demonstrates all too unclearly what leapfrogging initial environmental concerns in the headlong race for prosperity can lead to. Maybe they could see a lesson in that? Doesn't sound like it.

This is an excerpt from the January 15, 2005 N.Y. Times. The last article on nuclear power that China Daily ran was over six months ago and there was not one word about attention to safety in it.

DAYA BAY, China - The view from this remote point by the sea, with lines of misty mountains stretching into the distance, is worthy of a classical Chinese painting. In the foreground, though, sits a less obvious attraction: one of China's first nuclear power reactors, and just behind it, another being rushed toward completion.

...snip

There has been almost no public discussion of the merits and risks of nuclear energy here, as the government strictly censors news coverage of such issues. But critics question whether such a small payoff warrants exposure to the risk of catastrophic failures, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and the still unresolved problems of radioactive waste disposal.

"We don't have a very good plan for dealing with spent fuel, and we don't have very good emergency plans for dealing with catastrophe," said Wang Yi, a nuclear energy expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. "The nuclear interest group wants to push this technology, but they don't understand the risks for the future. They want to make money. But we scientists, we want to take a very comprehensive approach, including safety, environment, dealing with waste and other factors, and not rush into anything."

Chinese nuclear operators, like the people who run the Daya Bay plants here, scoff at such concerns.

...snip

Daya Bay's location less than 50 miles from Hong Kong, where the proximity has become a political issue, only reinforces the environmental and safety concerns. That may sound like ample space, but it is not much different from the distance from New York City to the Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan, N.Y., which has become an issue since the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Of the technologies that exist today, you have to look at what can happen on the worst day," Mr. Lochbaum said. "With wind power, you can go bankrupt. With a dam burst, lives can and have been lost, but it's fairly localized. The cost of cleaning up after Chernobyl, though, is greater than all of the benefits of the entire Soviet nuclear power industry combined, and it could have been worse."

// posted by Ellen @  21:25   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.


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