Archive for March 29th, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nuclear Energy, and the Issue of Transparency

If I find the time later this week, I will try to write more about the (Chinese-language) Taiwanese debate about nuclear energy – if there is such a debate. The (English-language) Taipei Times‘ coverage would suggest that there is one, involving academia, and politics. (A disclaimer: the linked post by Taiwan-based blogger Michael Fagan contains an allegation that Germany were being taken over by “lunacy”. A majority of people is indeed concerned about nuclear energy, and many of them expressed this by their vote on Sunday, which – I believe – should count as fairly normal behavior in a democracy.)

No small share of the debate within the Taipei Times appears to be contributed by foreigners, and, as seems fit in Taiwanese public life, in quite a zealous one, certainly on the part of Fagan and a critic of nuclear energy, Bruno Walther (click further  links from here to read more).

I became aware of Fagan’s blog in one of Echo Taiwan‘s commenting thread, where he raised questions about Tsai Ing-wen’s position on Taiwan’s nuclear plants.

It seems to me that not too many Japanese have asked their politicians or CEOs tough questions about the safety of nuclear power stations so far – if that is going to happen once the country’s life will have returned to a more normal mode remains to be seen. My impression is that Tepco so far hasn’t been used to account either to the public in general, or to the government in particular. One can’t easily claim that Fukushima had been under control during the past weeks. Nor would I suggest that Tepco’s CEOs had all the information they should have, about current events on the Fukushima-1 site.

As far as Germany is concerned, most people I know have always been uneasy with nuclear fuel. But the industry itself, and particularly the energy providers, have themselves done a lot to discredit this source of energy. The issue of fuel-rod disposal is mostly unresolved. And after each incident here, we’ve seen salami tactics when questions about the impacts were asked. Given that the externalities can be grave, and that – to my knowledge – no insurance company or syndicate would cover them, opponents of nuclear energy in this country are hardly to blame for distrusting the technology. I wouldn’t put their judgment into question – rather, I’d expect the industry to be prepared for an honest, transparent discussion.

If we can’t have that, we can’t afford nuclear energy.

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Related
Fangchenggang Nuclear Plant: Full Consideration, March 23, 2011
My take on Germany’s nuclear policy, comment on FOARP’s blog, March 16, 2011
Reactions to the Fukushima I Disaster, March 15, 2011
Tsai Ingwen: Democracy over Idolizaton, March 11, 2011

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