Monday, June 14, 2010 0 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

While we are on the issue of environmental risk... nuclear power plants

(This post has nothing to do with investing per se.)

Bloomberg reports,

China’s Daya Bay nuclear power plant had a “very small leakage” from a fuel rod last month that has been contained, CLP Holdings Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest electricity supplier, said in a statement.
“On 23 May 2010, a small increase in radioactivity (radioactive iodine and noble gases) is observed in the reactor cooling water at Unit 2 of Daya Bay,” according to the statement sent today. “The reactor cooling water is sealed in completely and isolated from the external environment, thus causing no impact to the public.”

The Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district. The facility has been in commercial operation since 1994 and generates 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year to Hong Kong and Guangdong Province, according to the website of the Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company Ltd., a CLP unit that owns 25 percent of the plant. State-owned Guangdong Nuclear Investment Co. owns the remaining 75 percent.
This is very minor and nothing to worry about...but I always wonder if we are going to end up with some major nuclear disaster in Asia.
 
Most people who follow the business news is probably aware that Asian countries, particularly China, and to some degree India, are set to ramp up their nuclear power plants. I don't know what the plans are right now but before the global recession, when everyone, especially the uranium commodity investors, were very bullish, the plans appeared to call for hundreads of nuclear power plants (admittedly over a period of several decades) to be built in China, India, and so forth.
 
Nuclear power plants actually aren't that risky, especially if you build them away from big cities. France has quite a number of them, and earthquake-prone Japan has them too. But I wonder about the ones in China/India/etc. Those countries have shoddy construction quality. Everyone cuts corners everywhere. Then you have severe corruption and lack of disregard of human rights. I mean, there are apartment buildings in China that topple over without a natural catastrophe. Remember the following picture from an article I linked last year?
 
 
Countries like India are probably even worse. I'm not predicting major nuclear meltdowns or other failures en masse. All I'm saying is, are we going to see an increase in nuclear reactor safety incidents over the next few decades, mostly stemming from developing countries in Asia? Or am I just stereotyping and reading too much into the negative? We definitely don't see significantly higher airplane accidents from developing country airlines—at least that's my impression—but I believe deaths from food poisoning, building collapses, traffic accidents, and the like, are far higher in those countries. The safety features of cars in those countries are a joke compared to what is standard in most developed countries.
 
What are these nuclear power plants going to resemble? Something to think about...

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