Chinese scientist He Zuoxiu has issued a public warning, about the safety of nuclear plants being constructed as part of China’s economic development programme.
According to The Guardian;
China’s plans for a rapid expansion of nuclear power plants are “insane” because the country is not investing enough in safety controls, a leading Chinese scientist has warned.
Proposals to build plants inland, as China ends a moratorium on new generators imposed after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, are particularly risky, the physicist He Zuoxiu said, because if there was an accident it could contaminate rivers that hundreds of millions of people rely on for water and taint groundwater supplies to vast swathes of important farmlands.
He spoke of risks including “corruption, poor management abilities and decision-making capabilities”. He said: “They want to build 58 (gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity) by 2020 and eventually 120 to 200. This is insane.”
A qualified Physicist, Zuoxiu rose to fame by publicly campaigning against superstition, by campaigning against Chinese traditional medicine, and by calling for Falun Gong to be outlawed.
To me, Zuoxiu’s position on Falun Gong seems extreme. In matters of spirituality, I think people should be free to follow their conscience. I’m unsettled that someone who prizes evidence based reasoning, could still consider themselves to be a Communist.
But Zuoxiu is a physicist, and China’s rapid capitalist transformation has not been without its problems. In 1975, China suffered the worst hydroelectric disaster in history – the Banqiao Dam disaster killed an estimated 171,000 people, and destroyed over 11 million homes. According to Wikipedia, the disaster was caused by a combination of poor engineering, shoddy workmanship and poor preparation – a lack of proper local hydrological research.
I’m a fan of nuclear power, and applaud China’s efforts to develop next generation nuclear power systems, such as Thorium reactors. But given the rising pressure on China to reduce CO2 emissions, which might concievably be helping to promote an overhasty nuclear programme, given the potentially awful consequences of an upriver nuclear meltdown, and given China’s track record of sometimes cutting one corner too many, Zuoxiu’s warnings should in my opinion be taken seriously.