Guest Post: Another Asian Fukushima Imminent?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John C.K. Daly from,


Another Asian Fukushima Imminent?


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.

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SheepDog-One's picture

Wang To-Far....Long Duck Dong and Bang Dae Ho's cousin.

cossack55's picture


You are one sharp dog.

mrgneiss's picture

Am I missing something or what does weather have to do with tsunamis and earthquakes?  Or are they saying that if some kind of Fukushima event occurred in Taiwan the inevitable typhoon would smear the fallout all over the island, and do so 2-4 times per year?

trav7777's picture

I got no clue, and neither do their candidates, who seem to think they can have power without having power plants.

So if they are going to BOTH reduce nuclear power AND cut CO2 emissions, where the fuck EXACTLY are they gonna get electricity from?

There is no fundamental problem with Mark 1 BWR that poses any great risk.  The problem with NPP is always the same- decades worth of cores are sitting uncontained in swimming pools.  This is true be they the latest CANDU or APWR, or the most ancient Mark 1 BWR.

Fukushima should have at least taught the necessity of H2 venting, and having shore power present within 6 hours of scram.  Either way, the catastrophe at Fukushima is from the SFPs, not the reactors.  Had those ponds been empty, this would have been a serious disaster but nowhere NEAR the scale it turned out to be.

lincolnsteffens's picture

Trav, I hate to agree with you, but, I do.

It seems that the more complex human lives become the more stupid they get. If Tiwan has an " anomalous incident of a rare and unusually a-typical complex unheard of coincidences ..blah, blah, blah"  there will be a deserted rock off the coast of the Peoples Republic of China that has had an Easter Island experience. Within a week of a blow up/earthquake nuclear disaster Taiwan would be 80% depopulated. The Red Chinese will welcome their brethren home to occupy new cities that have already been built but not used. The Chinese Nationalists will surrender what ever they need to in order to get fed and housed. No shots fired. Just a crises driven  emergency evacuation and eventually the manufacturing dynamo that was once Taiwan is transfered to the mainland.

I can see a welcomed Normandy type invasion by a Red Chinese flotilla of thousands of ships to hurriedly rescue the island's population from nuclear fall out. Mother Nature is not happy with human foolishness and is going to fix the problem by making life much simpler for humans to handle. Can you imagine trying to evacuate up to 23 Million people!

malek's picture

> having shore power present within 6 hours of scram.

That's a step in the right direction, but doesn't help you much if the main power distibution rooms are flooded with seawater...

Element's picture

There is no fundamental problem with Mark 1 BWR that poses any great risk.


Trav, Taiwan's regional geological setting is different to Japan's but it's almost equally prone to large earthquakes.

See figs 2, 3 and 4.

That impressive fresh-looking central mountain belt is the result of regular large earthquakes. Note that figure2 is the product of a sample period that's far too short to show the scale and periodicity what made those mountains so impressive.

One day we'll find out what does that and I hope they're not still operating BWRs when that happens.

Freddie's picture

General Electric/Obama and Westinghouse make sh*t reactors built by union goons who vote Dem.

ThrivingAdmistCollapse's picture

I thought Toshiba now runs Westing house?  In anycase, Taiwan is an integral part of the world economy at this point.  If Taiwan has a nuclear meltdown, such a small island society will not be able to cope with it.  Their downfall might trigger a broader East Asian economic collapse.

Reptil's picture

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.

People have started getting sick and dying already, it has begun. Until now the cultural code in Japan has held this process of open revolt within check.

This is just one example, the authorities have now resorted to suppression of the citizens, they must be very afraid.
"I've heard that the excrement from the irradiated evacuees like yourselves contaminates the environment more with radiation". Mayor of Tomakomai City

Or import (expensive) Panda bears?
"Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture wants to "borrow" pandas from China to cheer children in the city. So the vice mayor of Sendai visited PM Noda on December 22 with two TV celebrities to press Noda to ask for panda loan when he visits China on December 25. Sure, says Noda.

The celebrities, Masahiko Kondo and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, vow they will support the city by providing money for panda housing and protection, which is estimated to be 1 billion yen over 5 years. Kondo says the money comes from donations that his office has collected from citizens for the people in disaster-affected areas. (Yomiuri Shinbun Miyagi local version 12/23/2011)"

Panda bears are a good replacement for Lady Gaga? To calm the restless natives? Aaaah but it is obvious; A cute bear, on the extinction list, comforting cute japanese children who have no hope of ever producing healthy offspring themselves.

The inverted totalitarian state is showing deep cracks.

Radiation affects intelligence. How would citizens react, if they'd know? In both the USA and Japan, the effects are known, can be known.

So... there are more problems because of .... more awareness??!!

In Japan and in Belarus they call that "harmful rumours".
And no, a fair number of USA plants are EXACTLY the same as Fukushima Dai-ichi. The new AP-1000 is not safe at all, no "lessons from Fukushima" have been implemented. They just going to build the plants, reason be damned!

Why? Here's why:

Cognitive dissonance at it's finest.

Reptil's picture

General Electric (and the whole nuclear industry): cesspool

Whistleblower Jack Shannon:

Tsar Pointless's picture

You forgot his brother, Wang To-Suck.

Steaming_Wookie_Doo's picture

If his Wang To-far, then I hope the wife's Pu See Wei-deep

earleflorida's picture

"Dr Stu's Blog" 3/24/11___Stuwart Farrimond

'The Future of Nuclear Power after Fukushima': Thorium Reactors *{LFTR-Reactors'}

Matt's picture

I like how people express how safe, efficient and non-waste producing these LFTRs are. Especially considering they are hypothetical.

What I want to see is for a bunch of them to be built in a desert somewhere, and then tested to higher standards than we test cars. smash stuff into them, flood them, bomb them. Let one run for 50 years, and see what happens at the end of its life.

I mean, Fukushima reactos were within 3 years of being decommisioned; if they were brand new, they wouldnt have overfilled spent fuel ponds and likely wouldn't have been so problematic.

Forget how awesome it is hypothetically. I want to see real-world worst case scenarios and know the true risks and costs from planning through operation to complete decommissioning and disposal of all waste before we deploy them all over the world in large numbers.

trav7777's picture

I want you people to sit back and contemplate how MINOR Fukushima would have been had it NOT been for the 50 years' worth of spent core material sitting in uncontained swimming pools.

Even Gundersen maintains that the big boom was caused by a prompt criticality in a SFP. 

The problem with NP is NOT the reactor design...although the Mark 1 has some definite safety flaws, these were not what the great risk was.  If you decomission a BWR, STILL wtf do you do with the spent fuel!?!?

Fukushima in the event of coolant loss has the same issues with hydrogen and explosions and release of core materials because they'd STILL have been in those pools.  If Japan built a brand-new APWR on the site, they would STILL HAVE the SAME issues with spent fuel to deal with (although some of the newer reactor designs can partially reprocess and burn this stuff)

Fukushima Sam's picture

Dude, Fukushima (sans pools) is still playing out.  They don't know where the corium is, but they do know they have contaminated groundwater.

Imagine a solar storm taking out everything electrical in the US or even the globe.  Including the NPP control systems...

Without immediate cold shutdown capability nuclear power is a huge bet against nature.  And on a long enough timeline...

trav7777's picture

Newer designs have passive safety features.

if there is such a solar storm FAR MORE people will die as planes fall out of the sky than from nuclear material

Matt's picture

Did you even read my post before replying to it? I specifically said: "I mean, Fukushima reactos were within 3 years of being decommisioned; if they were brand new, they wouldnt have overfilled spent fuel ponds and likely wouldn't have been so problematic." I already considered how much less of a problem there would have been.

When the BWRs were originally designed, they were made to have a certain amount of fuel in the Spent Fuel Ponds. Over time, the amount of material and the density of storage was increased multiple times, since they never came up with a long term solution.

Who knows what challenges there would be after 40+ years of operating a Thorium reactor? who knows what modifications to procedures and regulations will be implemented to cut costs, or "solve" waste storage problems? The only way to know would be to run one for real through its whole life, prior to deploying them all over the world, in case they somehow create some as-yet-unforseen problem worse than the SFP problem we currently have.

trav7777's picture

of course I read your post, don't assume that I am specifically replying to you as opposed to the theme in general.

Without a solution to the waste problem, no NPPs can be built, until we get magic Gen 4 that can burn waste and generates stuff only radioactive for a few hundred years lol

malek's picture

So you're saying the complete meltdowns of several reactor cores were/are not a real problem?

trav7777's picture

no; they really weren't a big deal compared to the other issues.

Meltdowns are just when core materials melt. 

LowProfile's picture

Hypothetical my ass.  They had one running for five years, and I for one don't want to wait until after I'm dead to adopt thorium power.

Your comments smack of someone woefully uniformed about thorium power.

Matt's picture

You comment smacks of someone who only cares about short term gain, without considering any long term implications. It's thinking like yours that got us into this whole problem of overfilled Spent Fuel Ponds to begin with. Why worry about waste disposal now? I want my cheap electricity NOW, and someone else later on can figure out where to dispose of the waste.

Errol's picture

Matt +1

I think it's very possible that between the three E's (Economy, Energy, Environment), humanity will not have the money/resources to properly decommission most of the plants now in operation.  I personally believe that peak cheap oil, peak debt, and overpopulation will result in the unravelling of industrial civilization, leaving these radioactive buildings' pipes, wiring, etc to be scrapped in the future by people who have no idea what the plant's original purpose was.

Dmitry Orlov has proposed a competition to design statues that are both very enduring and will properly convey to illiterate people the horrors that await them if they try to salvage materials from these sites.  God help them if this doesn't happen.

Chump's picture

Are you actually saying that we don't know how to store the waste??  I swear, you dumb anti-nuclear cunts lobby left and right to cut off any and all waste disposal options and then use waste disposal problems as a reason to continue being anti-nuclear.  Go die in a fire!

CORNGUY's picture

Outstanding SheepDog


gmrpeabody's picture

Shake and bake bitchez...

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

But.....but......but I thought they figured out what went wrong in Japan and fixed it. No more Earthquakes by order of the

LeBalance's picture

many many more 9.0 Earthquakes to come courteousy of Nuclear Fallout (thank you 2000 plus nuclear tests and other PLANNED releases!) changing the absorption albedo of the ICE it landed on Leading to Melting Ice (40 Trillion Tons per year in Greenland alone) Leading to Isostatic Depression of the Ocean floors Leading to Changes in Ocean Current (Big time Climatic Change: Ice Ages Etc), Continental Plate Movement to Compensate, ETC!

Watch some believersunderground (YT). He looks like a jesus goof until you check out his references.  (lol).

redytogo's picture

Radiation is good for you, just ask, anyone within a 20 mile radius of Fukushima...


Non Passaran's picture

What's that supposed to mean?

Reptil's picture

The problem is way way WAY beyond Fukushima's 20 miles, or even Japan.
You all need to watch this:


FeralSerf's picture

If this is true, and it seems likely, how much worse is it in Japan?  Millions?

ACP's picture

Ha! It's probably happen 6 times in China already and we just don't know about it.

taniquetil's picture

Irrefutable Politician Logic:

"We should move of nuclear power for the security of our country"

Imports 99% of its energy, most of it from China.

sabra1's picture

it's no accident that reactors are built on fault lines! it's no accident radioactive  safety limits have been raised, and deemed safe!

check out 1:50 min. into the video!

fuu's picture

Check out how many reactors are located on important rivers and lakes in the US.

trav7777's picture

JFC I hope you were being sarcastic here; if not, you are an idiot.

fuu's picture

Are you denying that reactors in the US are located on rivers and lakes?

StychoKiller's picture

Whoosh!   Right over yer haid!  Think for a sec:  Something hot that's cooled by water -- WHERE do you place it?

wolfy747400's picture

Nice to know...But will that change anything? No. In relation to Nuclear what is the best way forward? Thorium. The reason we don't want to change IMO is the shit it used in bombs. Easy to get your hands on if it's everywhere. But I could be wong.

vegas's picture

I'm canceling my timeshare condo in Taiwan.

Harrison's picture

Yet another kneejerk overreaction to a one-time catastrophe. If Taiwan really does shut down its nuclear power plants, the island's economy will collapse. Taiwan's economy has already been hollowed out from moving manufacturing (and jobs) over to mainland China; Taiwan simply cannot afford to import enough oil and natural gas to make up the balance, and as we've seen in Spain, "green energy" is a fraud.

fuu's picture

"Yet another kneejerk overreaction to a one-time catastrophe"


Ancona's picture

"Knee jerk overreaction"???

Perhaps you should go and live in Fukushima dumbass.