China Should Learn from Japan’s Nuclear Disaster

Jun Xing

On 11 March, following an earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant exploded. The disaster is ranked the most serious level, i.e., the seventh level. The surrounding area within 30 kilometers is contaminated by nuclear radiation. It is not apt for human beings to live there in 20 years. Economic loss was estimated to be over USD 300 billion. This has become the most serious disaster in the history of Japan. Large volumes of radioactive water were poured into the sea and polluted the ecological environment. The Tokyo Electricity Company optimistically estimated that nuclear leakage would stop at the end of 2011.

Previously, several serious nuclear disasters happened. For example, Three Mile Island accident of 1979 in Pennsylvania of the United States; Chernobyl disaster of 1986 in Ukraine, where steam explosion and meltdown led to the evacuation of 300,000 people and the dispersal of radioactive material across Europe; and in 1999, the disaster of Tokaimura uranium processing facility in Ibaraki Prefecture of Japan. According to Greenpeace, in the 57-year development history of nuclear power, 285 cases were classified no 2 or above in the scale of nuclear accident.

        Particularly after the Chernobyl disaster, more and more people oppose nuclear development and demand shutting down nuclear power plants. In 1986, the Chinese government declared to build a nuclear power plant near Daya Bay. 116 civil organizations joined together to form an alliance. They mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to sign a petition opposing the nuclear plant. Unfortunately, they failed to stop it. October Review of 1986 published several articles to declare its opposing position (see issues no 113-116, etc.).

        The official experts openly guarantee the safety of nuclear energy, but it is not convincing. Within Guangdong Province, there are already 10 nuclear power plants. Daya Bay nuclear power plant, with a distance of 50 kilometers from Hong Kong, was found to have a radioactive leak in 2010. According to Wen Hongjun, former director of Economic Professional Committee of China Nuclear Dynamics Organization, there are two potential risks in the nuclear industry: one, too many nuclear plants and people do not pay much attention to the operation; second, the quality of nuclear facility is questionable.

        After Japan’s nuclear crisis, lots of people from all over the world have gone to demonstrations. For example, on 26 March, 100,000 people of Berlin demonstrated on the streets. On 30 May, German government declared to close all nuclear plants by 2022.

        All Hong Kong people are close to several nuclear plants in Guangdong province. Once a radioactive leak from any plant happens, no one can escape. Thus, Hong Kong people should come together to oppose nuclear energy and request Chinese government to stop the proliferation of nuclear plants. On the other hand, it is necessary to develop renewable energy such as hydropower, wind power and solar energy.