Nuclear Contamination and Water Crisis

Qing Yan


Nuclear power plants are throughout the whole of Japan. Starting from the 1970s, Japan has adopted capitalist modernization, industrialization and urbanization which led to an enormous demand of energy. In order to reduce its dependency on imported oil, Japan built a lot nuclear power plants along its coastal areas. Fukushima, where the nuclear power plant caused a radioactive leak, is the base of manufacturing electronic chips and automobiles. China, named as ‘the world factory’ and ranked as the second largest economic entity surpassing Japan, should learn from Japan’s tragedy.

        On 16 March, Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council, stressed that the government should examine rigidly the existing nuclear power plants, evaluate the new proposal of nuclear projects, formulate the regulation of the safety of nuclear energy, and improve the middle and long term planning. Before the approval of safety, all nuclear projects have to be suspended. According to the new statistics by the International Atomic Energy Agency, there are 37 nuclear power plants in progress in Asia, among which China has 26, most of them being situated along the coastal areas.

        According to Wu Libo, researcher of Energy Economy and Strategy Research Center of Fudan University, nuclear power is only 1.12% of energy consumption of China. In fact, most energy supply comes from thermal power. Over the past 30 years of implementing the reform and open-door policy, China had speedily promoted market economy and consumerism which led to an increasing consumption of energy such as coal, crude oil, natural gas and hydropower. According to the statistics of China Automobile Industry Association, China has become the first largest automobile market because it has produced 13.791 million cars and it has purchased 13.6448 million cars at the end of 2009. Moreover, in 2007, in every 100 village families, there are 26.1 sets of refrigerators and 8.5 sets of air-conditioners. Meanwhile, in every 100 urban families, there are 95 sets of refrigerators and air-conditioners.

        On the other hand, severe drought has plagued the middle and lower streams of Yangtze River, which aroused a series of crises such as shortages of grain, electricity and water. On 18 May, Wen Jiabao pointed out that the Three Gorges Dam has yet to solve problems such as migrants’ stability, ecological environment, and disaster precautions. It also affects the shipway, irrigation and water supply of the middle and lower streams of Yangtze River. The Working Plan of Post-Three Gorges Dam Project stated that the total investment for the follow-up is RMB 123.89 billion. However, some data show that the project has used an investment of RMB 184.9 billion at the end of 2009.

        According to the Office of National Precautions of Flooding and Drought, up to mid May, the affected arable land was 98.12 million mu, mainly in provinces like Hubei, Gangsu, Jiangxi and Hunan. To a certain extent, the drought was not merely natural disaster. It is because some rivers and lakes were illegally dredged which led to the degradation of water level. And there are many dams built along the main rivers of provinces like Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan. Wang Jingquan, an inspector of the Office of Flooding and Drought Precautions of Yangtze Water Committee, mentioned that in March and April, the Three Gorges Dam was just mainly for electricity generation. A Lot of water was used. This made the drought become worse and worse.

        The Three Gorges Dam has become profit seeking through generating electricity. Moreover, Three Gorges of Yangtze Corporation and Yangtze Electricity Company set up Hubei Qingneng Property Group to make more profits through the speculation of property. They own 100% of shares of 6 real estate companies in Guangzhou, Hubei, Beijing and Zhuhai. In a word, Three Gorges of Yangtze Corporation has become a governmental enterprise which is largely involved in hydropower business and property speculation.

        In conclusion, if human beings still ignore the problems caused by modernization and the extraction of resources, and worse still, market economy and consumerism has become the only choice, the next generations will definitely suffer.