By: Kevin Dunne
Nuclear tensions continue to rise around the world, especially in Canada, India, and South Korea. Controversy and uncertainty have settled like a mist over these countries this past week in regards to nuclear power. With the election results overshadowing nearly every major news story the past few days, it isn’t hard to see why this story may have been ignored.
India, a country that has been expanding rapidly within the past decade, has turned to various sources of energy to provide for its population of nearly 1.2 billion people. Nuclear power is a significant source for the country, with 6 power plants built and several under construction. The government seeks to add 30 reactors within the next few years and a recently made deal with Canada seemed to seal the construction. Canada had banned trading nuclear materials with India after India had secretly tested nuclear bombs in 1974 and 1998. Randall Palmer of Reuters reported that, “Canada reached a nuclear cooperation deal in 2010, and this week [Indian Prime Minister] Singh and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the conclusion of negotiations on rules that should soon enable the supply to India of uranium and reactors.” Many are happy that relations between the two countries are opening up further, but some still are wary of India’s exploits in the past. The deal, which was struck on the 6th, has generated talk among other countries and companies about possibly working with India. The major hindrance is India’s liability laws, which hold firms liable, rather than the state, for damages from any accidents. Companies, like General Electric, and countries, like Australia (which holds a large amount of the world’s uranium), have expressed interest in India if these laws were removed. If India were to remove these restrictions, they would almost assuredly reap a wealth of benefits.
South Korean nuclear power plants have received far less promising news this past week. On Wednesday the 7th, a series of reactors were shut down. Thousands of components for reactors were provided and used with false safety documents, resulting in the subsequent closure and inspection of several reactors. Inspectors have to inspect all 23 reactors, but have said so far that non-crucial parts pose no safety risk. Some officials have stated that they will resign after the inspections have ceased, mainly due to the billions in exports that have been threatened by this event. Despite the controversy, many South Koreans still advocate for nuclear power, and it is unclear how long a full investigation of all the plants and reactors will take.