Kan exhorts Taiwan to ditch nuclear power


Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged Taiwan to close all its nuclear power plants, as the island’s legislature prepares to tackle the matter when it reconvenes next week.

Kan told an audience in Taipei that his experience dealing with the Fukushima nuclear crisis, which began in March 2011, changed his views on nuclear power.

“Nuclear power is not cheap and (is) as a matter of fact quite risky,” he said Saturday. It takes a long time for radiation to decay. We should ask ourselves whether it is responsible to leave it for our children and grandchildren to take care of.”

Kan said he has two 1-year-old grandchildren, and what his generation should do for the sake of future generations is close all nuclear power plants and abandon nuclear energy.

While many people are concerned electricity prices might rise without nuclear power, Kan said Japan’s experience after the Fukushima meltdowns has demonstrated it has plenty of power even with only one reactor operating in the entire nation.

By improving technology related to renewable energy and thoroughly adopting energy-saving measures, he said, people can still live comfortable lives without atomic power.

Kan, who arrived in Taiwan on Thursday for a four-day visit, went to see one of Taiwan’s three nuclear power plants on Friday.

Taiwan’s reactors have been running safely and profitably for many years and now supply nearly 20 percent of the island’s electricity. A fourth power plant is expected to go online in 2015, but many people are calling for the project to be suspended.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou has announced plans to hold a public referendum — now pending in the legislature — on whether to stop construction, but the lawmaker who proposed the referendum said he has decided to withdraw it — a decision that also must be approved by the legislature.

During his visit, Kan also attended an antinuclear rally and met with New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu and Taipei Mayor Hau Long-bin.

8,000 rally against atomic power in Tokyo


An estimated 8,000 people took to the streets Saturday in Tokyo to protest nuclear power plant restarts ahead of the scheduled shutdown of the nation’s sole operating reactor.

Sunday’s suspension of a reactor in Fukui Prefecture will leave Japan nuclear-free for the second time since the Fukushima disaster erupted in 2011.

The reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant was set to be taken offline for a routine checkup, leaving all of Japan’s 50 commercial reactors idle for the first time in about 14 months.

The demonstrators marched through Koto Ward and surrounding areas after an anti-nuclear rally organized by Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe.

“We want to keep telling what is happening at Fukushima even though everybody is talking about the Olympics,” Oe said at the rally. “Let’s hand down an environment in which children can live without fear.”

Another speaker, writer Keiko Ochiai, questioned the assertion Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made to the International Olympic Committee last week that “the (Fukushima) situation is under control.” Tokyo ended up winning the 2020 Summer Olympics.

“Can you say the situation is under control even though contaminated water keeps leaking?” Ochiai asked.

  • Taiwan’s Longmen nuclear power plant is an advanced third-generation
    ABWR (ie. advanced boiling water reactor) with passive safety features
    that were not present in the more primitive Fukushima plants.

    “Many Gen III reactors include ‘passive safety’ mechanisms that get triggered by gravity or other natural forces in the event of trouble, said Hill. A reactor vessel, for instance, might have circulation systems that kick in even when electricity goes out to cool the facility through convection, making the plant less vulnerable to meltdown.”

    People are drawing the wrong lessons from Fukushima. Fukushima should have been shut down at the end of its useful life and not extended.
    Fukushima should have been replaced by a later generation of more
    advanced nuclear reactors with passive safety features.

    The disaster at Fukushima was preventable. Firstly, the Japanese had
    been warned that the sea wall was too low. Yet, they did not build it higher to stop a tsunami.

    Secondly, the Japanese could have placed the back-up diesel generators
    on the roof of the nuclear power plant or on elevated steel platforms within the power plant to prevent damage from the incoming seawater.

    In conclusion, the Taiwanese Longmen nuclear power plant is very different from Fukushima. Taiwan’s Longmen has advanced third-generation passive safety features. Also, Taiwan can build a high sea wall to stop a tsunami. The last line of defense is highly-elevated diesel backup generators to keep the coolant water circulating. It’s a good idea to have additional diesel backup generators on standby within 30 miles for rapid deployment as a fourth line of defense.

  • Sam Gilman

    Has Naoto Kan picked up a consultancy from a fossil fuel consortium? Taiwan will struggle to get substantial renewable resources working effectively. For renewables at current tech levels you need space and the ability to share electricity over continental scale distances.

    Last time I looked, Taiwan was a crowded island.

  • David

    The storage of Spent Nuke waste fuel is the real issue no matter how advanced any Plant is the waste is the reason all Nuke plants should be deccomissioned until someone figures out a way to build a safe Nuke plant that just runs on all the waste stored and leaking all over the world.
    This is the fact, no Nuke plant is safe and all Nuke plants produce the most toxic waste known to man that cannot be handled or stored safely.