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Nuclear power is cheap and safe

Update: March, 23/2015 - 08:43

Vuong Huu Tuan, director of the Viet Nam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Technology, tells Khoa hoc&Doi song (Science and Life) that a Fukushima-like disaster will not happen in Viet Nam.

What people worry about most with nuclear power is safety. As an expert on nuclear energy, will you please explain how Viet Nam is going to stay safe while operating nuclear power plants?

To feel safe and have peace of mind are two concepts that sometimes don't go together. They are not contingent on one another. In many cases, people feel secure but don't have peace of mind. I think this is a natural part of our psychology. However, for the case of nuclear energy, to make the people to feel secure, it is important to explain the safe operation of the nuclear power plant to them.

When we say our nuclear power plant in Ninh Thuan is safe, we are referring to various safety factors, including technique, technology, design, construction, management and operation.

And of course, we have to give scientific evidence to convince people about the safety of nuclear power. For example, we have to carefully research what construction sites to use and what technology to apply.

We need get contractors, experts, and Vietnamese engineers and technicians who are well trained to operate the power plant and to handle problems when they occur.

The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and the Fukushima disaster in 2011 are good lessons for Viet Nam. The Fukushima disaster was caused by Mother Nature, while the Chernobyl disaster was caused by humans.

Could you explain more about the technology Viet Nam is using for the Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant?

In its resolution on the building of the Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant, the National Assembly sent a mandate to the nuclear project owner that it must select the most advanced technology to avoid accidents like that of Chernobyl or Fukushima.

However, in life it is not easy to predict what disaster will happen next. Yet, lessons learned from the past are precious for present and future generations. I'm pretty sure that with advanced technology and operation management, there will be no second Fukushima accident to occur to either in Viet Nam or elsewhere in the world.

As I have mentioned above, while we were selecting the site for the plant, we took into account various scenarios, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. According to our calculations, the highest tsunami that could occur in Ninh Thuan would reach 6.8m. But we have designed the plan to be able to stand a 15m tsunami. We have to concede that humankind's knowledge is limited. Mother Nature is uncontrollable sometimes.

Do you think the Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant's electricity tariff will be cheaper than those produced by coal-fire or hydro power plants?

Sure! When Viet Nam decided to build a nuclear power plant, the price of electricity was one of our top concerns. It must be competitive with other types of electricity.

This is the most important factor the National Assembly considered when it gave the construction the green light. — VNS

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