Skip to main content

Lost in Translation: Vietnam Edition

vietnam_017 One of the dangers of snooping around the internet for interesting stories is that we have to hope the reporting is accurate. That's tough, because journalistic standards differ between countries and the press elsewhere often has a different role in society than what we're used to. Usually, the news sources we use are pretty reliable, but not always. If the initial story doesn't really pass the smell test or we can't confirm it, we just drop the story. (Sometimes, the smell can be pretty raw.)

For example:

Vietnam is set to build their first nuclear plants and have them running by 2020. Viet-Nam only began talking about nuclear energy in the last couple of years, so this seems an oddly premature announcement.

Well, we're not the only doubting Thomas':

Prof. Dr Tran Dinh Long, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Electricity Power Association, warned that building a nuclear power plant would require strict technical demands.
“It is not as easy as building a shoe-making factory. We cannot affirm that engineers who have studied for five years will be able to build a nuclear power plant. That’s why scientists must be very careful in selecting technology, equipment and suppliers.”

Or how about:

Vietnam has yet to even choose what technologies will be used for its first nuclear power plant.

Yet here's what they plan to do (according to the same story):

The final plan outlines building a plant on two sites, with four reactors (with a total capacity of 4000 MW), using two different technology models. [whenever they choose them, that is.]

Common sense seems to have evaded this story, yet, even coming from Iran, we're not sure the goal was to deceive.

---

So we looked around for some reports on this development and  found a few from Asian news sources. This one, from Malaysia, suggests that the Vietnamese are not moving quite as quickly as all that:

Vietnam is ready to make a decision to establish a nuclear power programme, following careful research, said Head of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute Vuong Huu Tan.

Vietnam news agency (VNA) reported that at a workshop on nuclear power, which took place in Hanoi on Friday, Tan affirmed that developing infrastructural facilities for a nuclear power programme needs to undergo three stages and that actually making the decision is the very first step.

Well, that seems more sensible.

But then there's this, from Thailand:

Vietnam is capable of operating nuclear power plants, and the plan to run its first nuclear reactor in 2020 is of great significance in the situation of power shortage.

A bit too up-with-Vietnam for our taste.

---

So, we don't know. Consider this one a work in progress. We'll see what IAEA has to say and look for some more pickup in the press. Right now, we're a little lost in translation.

Whenever we see pictures of Vietnam, we're always struck by how vibrantly green it is. It's like Asia's Ireland.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I am a Nuclear Engineer and went to Vietnam on a technical mission earlier this year. I met with the nuclear regulatory body in Hanoi (Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Control - VARANSAC) as well as the Vietnam Atomic Energy Commission (VAEC).

Both organisations are keen to get moving on nuclear, but like many, must first develop their human resources. But this task is well underway. For example, I was in one meeting with maybe 20 Vietnamese technical staff. Of this group maybe two were the classic, silver haired nuclear experts. All the rest were quite young - definitely under 30. These younger engineers and scientists were very sharp academically, but lack the practical experience in projects / operation. They are looking hard to gain that experience through collaborative endeavours around the world (and they certainly are not alone in that effort - especially in Asia).

I have no doubt the Vietnamese are very serious about nuclear power.
Anonymous said…
I can second this. There has been high level exchanges with China on this already. The Vietnamese have already started to set up the regulatory/safety infrastructure as well as the R&D.

A lot of people don't know this but there has been a working R&D reactor in southern Vietnam, even as their civil war raged around it.

The Vietnamese are going s-l-o-w and that means they are v-e-r-y serious. You don't see, like in S. Africa, plans for "40 GWs" of atomic energy. No, you see plans to for basically two plants, both located in northern Vietnam. This makes sense. The Vietnamese will also work with anyone on this, *especially* the United States and China, their most natural allies in developing fission energy.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…