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Nuclear plants a big security risk

Nuclear plants a big security risk, By Henry Sokolski   

As Taiwan’s August referendum on completing its Fourth Nuclear Power Plant approaches, one question that has not yet been fully considered is to what extent this and Taiwan’s other three plants are military liabilities — radioactive targets that China aims to attack. At best, a threatened strike or an intentional near-miss against one plant would likely force the government to shut the other nuclear plants down as a precaution. At worst, a strike could produce Chernobyl-like contamination, forcing the evacuation of millions.

Some partial, temporary defenses are possible and should be pursued, but ultimately, the smart money is on substituting non-nuclear alternatives for these reactors as soon as possible.

As Ian Easton noted last month in these pages, Beijing released a 2013 internal course book on Taiwan’s military geography that spotlighted a potential amphibious landing area at Fulong Beach where Taiwan’s fourth incomplete nuclear plant sits (“Ian Easton On Taiwan: Are Taiwan’s nuclear plants safe from Beijing?” April 12, page 6).The military handbook also highlighted Xialiao Beach, which hosts Taiwan’s Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里).

In a separate 2014 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) field manual, Easton noted, Taiwan’s reactors were described as high-value targets that should be temporarily knocked out (for subsequent reopening) with precision weapons fired from helicopters. That is the optimistic plan. However, the PLA appeared uncertain about how surgical its attacks might be

Yet another 2015 PLA guidebook, Easton notes, warned PLA troops that they must be prepared to fight through nuclear “contamination,” and they may need to “wash” themselves off as they complete their invasion.Since these military guidebooks were written, the PLA has acquired thousands of additional highly accurate ballistic and cruise missiles and drones, which make highly precise attacks against Taiwan’s reactors much easier.

What might the consequences of such precision attacks be? Bad to catastrophic. The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, which I run, recently commissioned a radiological analysis of several Chinese strikes against Taiwan’s nuclear plants. In the least destructive case, the Chinese target one of their missiles just near the reactor — perhaps the plant employees’ parking lot. While the Chinese missile might not kill anyone, Taiwan’s government would likely pull all of their reactors off the grid as a precautionary measure.

That is roughly 10 percent of Taiwan’s electrical production. In addition, residents near the reactors would likely hit the road in massive numbers to evade possible follow-on attacks. These attacks might target the reactors’ grid connection or its emergency diesel generators. This, again, would not necessarily lead to a core meltdown (unless both were hit simultaneously), but would definitely put the population on edge.

That is the best case. Much worse would be a missile or drone strike against the reactor’s control room or reactor core. In these cases, a loss of necessary coolant and radiological release are likely. What the consequences might be depends on the prevailing winds. Here are maps of an attack on the Maanshan plant at Kenting in June and in December. The orange and red areas describe irradiated regions the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would recommend populations be evacuated from.

In either case, the evacuation of many thousands to several million is likely.

Of course, if China hit Taiwan’s spent reactor fuel ponds, the contaminating radiation released would be far greater.

None of this is welcome news. All of it recommends shutting down Taiwan’s nuclear plants as soon as is practical and replacing them with non-nuclear alternatives. At a minimum, completing Taiwan’s fourth reactor should be a nonstarter.

In the interim, Taiwan should remove as much radioactive waste from its spent reactor fuel ponds as possible and place it in hardened, concrete dry storage casks. The US, Euratom nations, and Japan are already doing this; so should Taiwan.

Taiwan should also build emergency spent fuel pond sprinkler and cooling water monitoring systems to reduce the likelihood of spent fuel fires if these pools are hit and water levels become dangerously low. Taiwan also should consider building remote control rooms for its three operating plants, as Japan has done in at least one case.

Finally, it should consider hardening certain structures and actively defending at least against local drone attacks.

As urgent as these steps are, none, however, should be taken with an eye to extending these reactors’ operations. Just the opposite. If Taiwan is serious about its national security, it will replace all of these potential radiological targets with non-nuclear generators as soon as possible.

Henry Sokolski is the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Arlington, Virginia, and author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the US secretary of defense during former US president George H.W. Bush’s administration.

May 10, 2021 Posted by | safety, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Taiwan environmentalists to hold anti-nuclear rally in June

Environmentalists to hold anti-nuclear rally in June, Focus Taiwan, By Wu Hsin-yun and Lee Hsin-Yin)   Taipei, March 13 (CNA) Environmentalists will hold a rally on June 5 to oppose the use of nuclear power and keep the 4th Nuclear Power Plant mothballed ahead of an August referendum on the plant’s fate.

At an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a nationwide anti-nuclear alliance of more than 100 groups urged the public to push back against groups that support the development of nuclear power, citing the harm left by the devastating earthquake.

Independent lawmaker Freddy Lim (林昶佐), who attended the event, said the issue of nuclear energy has gone beyond politics, and people should take the responsibility to say no to it instead of leaving nuclear waste to the next generation.

The alliance urged the public to voice its opposition during a national referendum vote in August, when one of the questions will be: “Do you agree that the 4th Nuclear Power Plant be activated for commercial operations?”………

March 15, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Nuclear power not an option for Taiwan,

March 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Taiwan. Nuclear power plant referendum set to take place in August

Nuclear power plant referendum set to take place in August,  Taipei, Jan. 22 (CNA) A national referendum on activating the long-mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei will be held on Aug. 28, after the Central Election Commission (CEC) confirmed the date that was already set in stone in the Referendum Act.

The Referendum Act stipulates that national referendums can only be held once every two years starting from 2021 and only on the fourth Saturday of August during those years.

The CEC said in a statement Friday that polling stations will be open on Aug. 28 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m………

Critics….. have warned of the safety hazards of the plant in particular and nuclear power in general, citing the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan.  ………

January 23, 2021 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Nuclear corruption – this time it’s Taiwan

December 3, 2020 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Taiwanese protest plan to dump water from Japan nuclear plant into sea

November 21, 2020 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear, Taiwan, wastes | Leave a comment

Taiwan furthers its departure from nuclear power, with more unused fuel rods sent back to USA

More fuel rods at fourth nuclear power plant sent back to U.S.

(By Flor Wang and Wang Chao-yu)  10/21/2020 Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) More fuel rods at a mothballed nuclear power plant in New Taipei were shipped back to the United States on Wednesday as part of government to honor its promise to make Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025.efforts

Five or six trucks carrying an unknown number of unused fuel rods from the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant arrived at Keelung Port in the early hours and were then loaded into several containers that departed for the U.S. at around noon.

However, the authorities in charge did not disclose whether this is the last batch of fuel rods being sent back to America.

A Legislative Yuan resolution that was passed in 2018 demands that state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) must send back all 1,744 unused fuel rods from the plant to America by the end of this year.

Taipower has said the task will cost NT$700 million (US$24.1 million).

In July 2018, the first batch of 160 rods was transported back to its U.S. supplier — Global Nuclear Fuel Americas, LLC — which was followed by three more similar operations as of August 2019, the Taipei-based China Times reported on Tuesday.

On Oct. 15, Atomic Energy Council Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星) said 240 fuel rods at the power plant were still waiting to be transported to the U.S. — a delay caused by travel restrictions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, disposing of the 1,744 fuel rods from the plant could save about NT$100 million in maintenance costs per year.

The government has spent NT$283.8 billion on building the plant in New Taipei’s Gongliao District, but it has been mothballed since 2014 due to public concern over the use of nuclear power.



October 22, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics international, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Taiwan environmentalists mark Chernobyl nuclear disaster anniversary, call for renewables not nuclear

Anniversary of Chernobyl sees anti-nuclear appeals.

Two environmental groups issued online statements over the weekend to mark the 34th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on Sunday and call for the abolition of nuclear power in Taiwan.

The government should bolster safety mechanisms at the nation’s nuclear power plants, safely handle nuclear waste and educate the public on the risks of nuclear energy ahead of a referendum next year on whether to resume work on the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, which was caused by an explosion at the plant’s No. 4 reactor during maintenance, resulted in several thousand deaths, and the area around the plant would remain uninhabitable long into the future, it said.

The anniversary of the 1986 disaster should highlight the dangers of using nuclear power, it added.

Taiwan’s three operating nuclear power plants have been in operation for nearly 40 years, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

“Can the plants still safely operate, or should they be decommissioned? Policies on the plants are a major compromise between power needs and hopes for decommissioning,” it said.

Some people are concerned that the plants could be contaminating the air or the water supply, it added.

Radioactive waste from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan has still not been completely cleaned up, showing that coping with nuclear disasters is beyond human capability, the union said.

The dangers of nuclear power — as evidenced by the atomic bombs used in World War II, and the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters — should not be overlooked in favor of the economy’s demand for power, it said.

The government should focus its efforts on energy transformation and push for the development of renewable energy, it added.

There is a pressing need to combat climate change, but nuclear power is not a viable alternative, the union said.

“There is a cheaper, faster and safer option to reduce carbon emissions, and that is for the government to put all of its effort into energy efficiency and the development of sustainable energy,” it said.

April 28, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Taiwan searches for a solution to its nuclear waste problem

Searching for a Permanent Storage Solution

BY TIMOTHY FERRYON FEBRUARY 19, 2020  Permanent storage in deep geological repositories is the current international standard for final disposal of nuclear waste, but in practice this solution has so far proven extremely difficult to accomplish.

The U.S. government has de-funded its deep geological repository at Yucca Mountain, and most nations have yet to begin development of similar facilities. Finland is the closest to successfully completing deep geological repository. Its Onkalo site is now in the final approval stage, and should begin accepting nuclear waste early in this decade.

Executives from U.S. startup Deep Isolation visited Taiwan last fall with an innovative solution that could serve as either interim or permanent storage. Deploying technologies developed in the oil and gas industry, it would use directional drilling approximately 1 kilometer deep and then another kilometer horizontally. The spent fuel would then be lowered down the borehole inside nickel-chromium-molybdenum alloy canisters.

Developed by University of California at Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, the solution is based on proven technologies. The canisters can even be retrieved. The company has yet to utilize the technology in an actual case, though, and Taipower may be wary of being first in the world to implement it.

In the meantime, Taiwan is continuing a search for its own site for a deep geological depository. The Atomic Energy Council hopes to have a site ready by 2055.

For now, however, the focus is on developing interim solutions for the spent fuel in the cooling pools. Both New Taipei City and Taipower are optimistic that solutions can be found.

“The election is over and the noise is quieting down, so maybe now will be a better time to solve the issue,” says Edward H.C. Chang (張學植), director of Tai-power’s Department of Nuclear Backend Management.

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Taiwan, wastes | Leave a comment

Taiwan govt to give $2.55 billion to Orchid Island in nuclear waste compensation

Orchid Island to get NT$2.55 billion in nuclear waste compensation,  Focus Taiwan,  (By Flor Wang, Elaine Hou, Lu Tai-cheng  Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) The government will pay NT$2.55 billion (US$83.6 million) to Orchid Island residents to compensate them for infringing on their rights by maintaining a nuclear waste storage facility there over the past five decades, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced Friday.

Tsai announced the compensation at a news conference in Taitung and hailed the move as reflecting the goal of the current government to pursue transitional justice for indigenous tribes based on fact-finding efforts.

“Evidence we collected showed that the then-government decided to build a nuke waste storage in reserved lands for the Yami people on Orchid Island without their previous knowledge or agreement,” Tsai said.

She described the payment as a step toward compensating Orchid Island and its people, but said there was still a lot to do to “correct our past errors.”

The decision to position the facility to handle low- and medium-level nuclear waste from Taiwan’s nuclear power plants on Orchid Island was made in 1974 and it began receiving shipments in 1982.

The process has long been recognized as deceptive, with a report titled “Orchid Island: Taiwan’s Nuclear Dumpsite” in the newsletter Nuclear Monitor in 1993 detailing how residents were led to believe a cannery was being built.

The Executive Yuan brought up historical documents showing that former President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) and Premier Sun Yun-suan (孫運璿) went ahead with the decision to build the facility without informing the local Yami people in advance.

Since residents realized in the late 1980s what was actually on the site, they have feared it would contaminate the food chain and force them off the island and also led protests against nuclear power……

November 23, 2019 Posted by | politics, Taiwan, wastes | Leave a comment

Drones a threat to nuclear facilities

Korea Times 6th Oct 2019, National infrastructure sites are vulnerable to possible drone strikes, with a growing number of intrusions at nuclear power plants here using the small unmanned aircraft being confirmed, according to a lawmaker, Sunday.
Rep. Lee Sang-min of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) said the
Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) reported 13 cases of the
illegal flying of drones near the power plants from 2015 to 19. Ten of the
13 cases occurred just in 2019 ― and six took place near the Kori Nuclear
Power Plant in northern Busan in August.

Bulletin of Atomic scientists 4th Oct 2019, A terrorist attack by swarming drones may seem farfetched, and it is important not to engage in hyperbole. However, scenarios similar to this are playing out around the world, often in a hostile manner. Once again, the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia should give pause for concern. At least 18 drones and seven cruise missiles were reportedly used to break through national defenses and strike the designated targets in Abqaiq and Khurais.
The use of these systems in swarms makes tactical sense, as it increases
the likelihood of a successful strike, by overwhelming and saturating
defenses. Drones may also be used to help identify targets, allowing
secondary systems to strike with precision. In a different, but not
unfamiliar manner, swarms have been used for saturation, spotting, and
strike purposes by both criminal gangs and terrorists.

October 10, 2019 Posted by | safety, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Taiwan about to close second nuclear reactor

Taiwan to shut down 2nd nuclear reactor within days, July 12, 2019 (Mainichi Japan) TAIPEI (Kyodo) — Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council agreed on Friday to shut down a second nuclear reactor on Monday when its 40-year operating license expires, moving the island a step closer to nuclear-free status.

July 13, 2019 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

No to nuclear power: Taiwan’s president reaffirms anti-nuclear stance

Taiwan’s president reaffirms anti-nuclear stance at march, April 28, 2019 (Mainichi Japan) TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday reaffirmed her opposition to nuclear power before marching with anti-nuclear protesters, reviving an issue that has proven politically divisive in the past.

April 29, 2019 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

$70 billion price tag for restarting Taiwan’s No. 4 nuclear plant project , and that’s not counting wastes costs

Restarting No. 4 nuclear plant project could cost NT$70 billion: AEC Focus Taiwan, 2019/03/14   Taipei, March 14 (CNA) It could cost an estimated NT$60-70 billion (US$1.94-2.26 billion) and take at least 10 years to revive the mothballed fourth nuclear power plant at Longmen in New Taipei’s Gongliao District, Atomic Energy Council (AEC) Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星) said Thursday.

However, Hsieh said that a decision to search for a final disposal repository for radioactive waste has not been reached and he declined to answer the question of when the location of a final repository can be determined, because no cities or counties in the country are willing to have such a facility in their localities.

Hsieh was responding to a legislator’s questioning about restarting the nuclear plant project during a legislative hearing, as the topic has sparked considerable debate after pro-nuclear energy activists recently proposed a referendum on the issue……..

 the ministry also cited Taipower estimates that it would require about NT$47.8 billion to revive the nuclear plant and put it into commercial operation, adding that the amount could be even higher than that.

(By Liu Lee-jung and Evelyn Kao)

March 16, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Taiwan conference urges phasing out of nuclear power

Lee Yuan-tseh pushes nuclear phase-out  By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter Local industries should upgrade their production techniques to curb carbon emissions, and the nation should phase out nuclear power to avoid leaving more nuclear waste to future generations, former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) told an energy conference in Taipei.The conference was hosted by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) and other anti-nuclear groups, following another energy forum on Sunday organized by former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) that called for maintaining nuclear power.

Advocates of nuclear power have gained more momentum after most people voted in favor of abolishing the “nuclear-free homeland by 2025” policy in a referendum on Nov. 24 last year.

Attendees — including Democratic Progressive Party Legislator-at-large Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) and New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) — first prayed for victims of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster on March 11, 2011.

Phasing out nuclear power is not only a security concern, but would also curb nuclear waste, said Lee, Taiwan’s first Nobel laureate in chemistry in 1986, adding that the older generation should not leave nuclear waste to future generations for their own convenience.

The nation needs to develop small-scale renewable energy generation systems to curb fossil fuel pollution and global warming, he said.

The global community might start tracking companies’ carbon footprints in two or three years, so local firms should start cutting their use of fossil fuels, he said, reiterating his suggestion that the government implement a carbon tax to curtail emissions.

The TEPU is working on two referendum proposals, including one recommending that the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant compound be converted into a site for renewable power research and development, union founding chairman Shih Shin-min (施信民) said.

The second proposal asks: “Do you agree that any construction or extended operation plans for nuclear power plants can only begin after they are approved by local referendum voters within the 50km-radius of the plants?”

The proposals are aimed at countering two referendum proposals by nuclear power advocates that seek to continue construction of the mothballed plant and to extend the permits of three operational nuclear power plants, Shih said.

The annual parade against nuclear power is scheduled for April 27, which would focus on renewable power development, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance deputy secretary-general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) said.

Separately, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wrote on Facebook that the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster pushed Taiwanese to seriously consider energy issues and the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration to mothball the plant.

While people hold varied views about when the nuclear-free homeland policy should be achieved, it is the nation’s common goal to ensure that the next generation has safe power generation, Tsai wrote.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment