Lawmakers at odds on nuclear power resurrection proposal

By Staff reporters   May 31, 2022 | 12:54 am PT
Lawmakers at odds on nuclear power resurrection proposal
A nuclear power plant in Grohnde, Germany, March 5, 2013. Photo by Reuters/Fabian Bimmer
Two lawmakers have opposed on safety grounds the National Assembly’s Economic Committee’s recent proposal to revive nuclear power plans.

In 2009 the government had announced plans to build two nuclear plants in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan at a cost of several billion dollars, but the House shot down the proposal in 2016 saying they were unaffordable.

The projects should be scrapped altogether, Truong Trong Nghia, a Ho Chi Minh City representative said an NA meeting Monday.

"We can make a new plan in the next 10 or 20 years if we want to develop nuclear power."

More than 10 years of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has still not completely dealt with the aftermath despite being a developed country and using nuclear power for a long time, he pointed out.

Vietnam’s ability to control the risks is "very low", and the country should not countenance nuclear power, he added.

A deputy from Ninh Thuan, Dang Thi My Huong, said people are concerned about the plants.

The debate over Vietnam’s first nuclear power projects resurfaced this year after it made a commitment at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Economic Committee said in a report last week the country should consider reviving its nuclear plans to ensure energy security and economic development since nuclear energy is clean in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Former head of the Vietnam Institute of Energy, Nguyen Manh Hien, had told a forum in April that restarting the nuclear power program by 2030 is the only way to fulfill the net-zero carbon commitment by 2050.

Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien said Monday that the decision by the National Assembly in 2016 was to "suspend" the construction of the plants, not to cancel them altogether.

The location in Ninh Thuan was thoroughly studied by Russian and Japanese experts, who assured it is the best place to build nuclear power plants, he said.

Many countries such as the U.S. and Germany have begun to make plans to again develop nuclear power after moving toward eliminating it three years ago, he said.

To achieve the net-zero target, Vietnam needs to utilize renewables such as solar and wind power, but they need a stable source of power to ensure adequate supply, he said.

Nuclear power is clean and affordable while coal could no longer be used and the country has fully utilized its hydropower capacity, he added.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh told VnExpress last week that the nuclear energy option needs to be carefully studied and he is waiting for directions from the Communist Party politburo.

While a final decision is pending lawmakers have called for dealing with certain issues that surfaced after the nuclear plans were shelved.

Huong said the land earmarked for the nuclear plants remains unused, but locals who own them cannot use or sell them either.

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