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Will Vietnam say ‘no’ to nuclear power?

VietNamNet Bridge - Further debate continues about the use of nuclear power and the proposed Ninh Thuan nuclear power plant project.
VietNamNet Bridge - Further debate continues about the use of nuclear power and the proposed Ninh Thuan nuclear power plant project.

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The government has proposed the cancellation of the Ninh Thuan nuclear power plant project, saying the country is not expected to face an electricity shortage as previously predicted. Nuclear power is less competitive in price compared with hydraulic and thermal power.

Tran Huu Phat, former head of the Vietnam Institute of Atomic Energy, agreed that it would be better to delay the project as Vietnam was not ready for project implementation.

Vietnam has not legally prepared for the project because big problems in the Atomic Energy Law need amendments. 

However, the expert said that the biggest problem was labor resources.

“The labor force is not prepared to ensure legal enforcement and operate a nuclear power plant,” he said. “The Department of Radiation and Nuclear Safety, the agency which plays the most important role in state management, has not been ready yet, at least for the next five years.”

Further debate continues about the use of nuclear power and the proposed Ninh Thuan nuclear power plant project.
Nguyen Thanh Son, former director of the Song Hong Energy Company, said nuclear power was not considered clean energy, but hazardous and dirty. 

Meanwhile, Vietnam cannot master technology on the safe disposal of nuclear waste. Other countries in the world have to rely on the US and Russia to dispose of the waste, but the cost is very high. 

What kinds of power will Vietnam rely on to develop its economy if it refuses to develop nuclear power?

Son said hydraulic and thermal power makes up the largest proportion of electricity output in Vietnam. 

As Vietnam has fully exploited the hydropower potential, it now can rely on thermal power – coal, oil and gas run power plants. The three types of fossil materials are limited in the domestic market, but Vietnam can use the imports.

“It is costly to use oil, therefore, we can import coal to run thermal power plants,” he said, adding that he cannot see any problems arising if the government cancels the nuclear power project. 

“We just need to boost electricity generation from coal power plants,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phat believes that it is a correct decision to delay the nuclear power project as Vietnam is not ready for it, but Vietnam will need nuclear power, sooner or later.

“Hydropower potential is getting exhausted. We can only expect thermal and nuclear power,” he said. “Coal power plants cause serious pollution. The domestic coal supply won’t be enough.”

“Vietnam has no other choice than to develop nuclear power,” he said.


Luong Bang

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