31 May 2011

Singapore Should Never Have a Nuclear Power Plant - Part II

Shortly after the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi, I wrote that Singapore should never have a nuclear power plant [link].

The main reason is that Singapore is too small.  In the event of a nuclear accident, there is nowhere in Singapore that is far away enough from the nuclear plant for us to be safe from radioactive fallout.

The mainstream media carried assurances from "experts" that nuclear power was safe and Fukushima Daiichi was an exception.  As one apologist argued: if an ageing nuclear plant, incompetently managed and with obsolete safeguards, is hit by one of the worst earthquakes in recent history followed by a terrible tsunami, yet hardly anybody is killed, then we must conclude that nuclear power has a lot to be said for it.

In early April, the Singapore Government announced that it would proceed with its pre-feasibility study on nuclear energy.  Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran assured Parliament that Singapore would still be a long way from making any decisions on nuclear energy even after the study was completed.

On 25 May, the Swiss government recommended to its parliament that the country's five nuclear power plants should not be replaced as they age, leaving them to be phased out by 2034.

On 30 May, Germany's coalition government agreed to shut down all of the country's nuclear power plants by 2022.  Germany will be the first major industrialised nation in the last quarter century to announce plans to go nuclear-free.

Germany currently obtains 23 per cent of its energy from nuclear power.  It will have to invest at least €150 billion in developing alternative energy sources.  It may depend more on fossil fuels, which are more expensive and more polluting.  Either way, electricity prices may rise.

Unlike Fukushima, Germany does not suffer from earthquakes nor tsunamis.

Not unexpectedly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision has been quickly branded as a cynical exercise in realpolitik, a capitulation to irrationalism, and one that lacks scientific and economic sense.

It is a courageous decision to do what is good for the country and the people.  Cheaper and more reliable electricity is not everything.

No community can afford a nuclear accident.  Especially a country as physically small as Singapore.

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