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Another Asian Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe Imminent?

Politics / Nuclear Power Dec 29, 2011 - 11:43 AM GMT

By: OilPrice_Com

Politics

Taiwan imports 99 percent of its energy, which is vital to its rapidly industrializing economy.

The island nation's electricity demand was recently growing at almost 5 percent per year, but this is slowing to about 3.3 percent per annum to 2013. Nuclear power has been a significant part of the electricity supply for two decades and now provides 17 percent of the country's overall energy needs.


But this has come at a potential cost. The country's three nuclear power plants (NPPs) comprise four General Electric boiling water reactors and two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors.

Taiwan launched its nuclear power project in 1972 with the construction of a General Electric boiling water reactor (BWR) at the Chinshan 1 Nuclear Plant in northern Taiwan. By 1985 Taiwan had a total of six reactors online at the Chinshan, Kuosheng and Maanshan NPPs, which provided nearly 20 percent of the island's power that fueled Taiwan's economic take off. The NPPs are operated by the Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) utility under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

In the wake of the 11 March Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan, Professor Chan Chang-chuan of National Taiwan University's College of Public Health noted that Taiwan's three existing nuclear plants and a fourth, the one now under construction, are located in earthquake-prone regions near the sea, which originally facilitated the transportation of nuclear fuel and construction materials but leaveS the sites facing the double hazards of earthquakes and tsunamis. Chan said, "Such locations expose our reactors to a double risk."

All six of Taiwan's existing reactors are built near major fault lines, and two more reactors are under construction at the advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) Longmen NPP in New Taipei City's Gongliao District. On 31 October Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang said that the Longmen facility is expected to enter commercial operation no later than 2017.

Now the issue of the country's NPPs has entered the arena of the country's upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for 2012. All three of Taiwan's presidential candidates agree that the life of the country's three operational nuclear power plants should not be extended, but are divided on whether construction of the Longmen NPP should continue.

Capturing the high ground, on 3 November Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou unveiled the government's new nuclear energy policy, promising to gradually move the country towards a nuclear-free future, announcing that the scheduled 40-year service life of the Chinshan, Kuosheng and Maanshan nuclear plants would not be extended, while the New Taipei City Longmen NPP would only begin commercial operations when all necessary safety requirements were met. Ma said, "This new energy policy is crafted in a proactive, practical and responsible manner in keeping with the principles of no power rationing, maintenance of stable electricity prices and continued reduction of carbon dioxide emissions to meet international goals."

Going Ma one better, on 15 December Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman candidate Tsai Ing-wen declared that if she wins next year she will close all three of Taiwan's existing nuclear power plants and mothball the Longmen NPP, seeking to end Taiwan's nuclear energy program by 2025 and candidate number three, James Soong of the People First Party, favors not extending the service life of the three existing NPPs but favors a 'wait and see' approach on the Longmen NPP. The Chinshan NPP license expires in 2018-2019, Kuosheng in 2021-2023 and Maanshan in 2024-2025.

The policy represents a significant turnaround in Taiwan's commitment to nuclear power, as in May 2009 Taipower was examining the prospects for six more reactors, starting with the Longmen NPP.

Therefore, the only remaining question is whether the South China Sea's notorious weather patterns will remain benign over the next 14 years. If not, according to Wang To-far, economics professor at National Taipei University, "if a level-seven nuclear crisis were to happen in Taiwan, it would destroy the nation."

Fingers crossed.

Source: http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Another-Asian-Fukushima-Imminent.html

This article was written by Dr. John CK Daly for Oilprice.com who offer detailed analysis on Crude Oil, Geopolitics, Gold and most other commodities. They also provide free political and economic intelligence to help investors gain a greater understanding of world events and the impact they have on certain regions and sectors. Visit: http://www.oilprice.com

© 2011 Copyright OilPrice.com- All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Comments

unspokenhermit
30 Dec 11, 08:17
Wait until the full reality

Wait until the full reality of the Fukushima disaster dawns on the japanese people themselves.

We'll (sadly) see something new in the global economy. Open revolution in a "developed" country.

I recently discovered the following dispersion model, which someone had linked to Berkeley’s discussion page. It uses TEPCO emission data to model possible dispersion patterns for Neptunium and Plutonium

http://www.datapoke.org/blog/89/study-modeling-fukushima-npp-p-239-and-np-239-atmospheric-dispersion/

If this model is accurate, it is very disturbing. Where are all of the so-called experts who claimed these elements were too heavy to travel far from the plant site?


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