Rabu, Julai 29, 2009

Does Malaysia really need a nuclear power?

I found this somewhere, and to me, this is a nail-biting issue. For sure, nuclear power is beneficial for future energy, but we can never bear with the danger it possesses. While China, India and Indonesia will soon source for green and sustainable power, such as wind-powered generator, i think we need to drop the plan of setting up a nuclear plant. Indonesia and Australia has dropped the plan of setting up nuclear plant as their people were against it. We should do the same. Dont you think so? 

Nuclear energy in Malaysia inevitable

They have done this with maximum risk management. Nuclear energy is inevitable especially for a country like Malaysia which is rapidly industrialising. Its population growth continues to be on an upward trend. The demand for electricity in Malaysia is increasing by the day.

Currently 60 percent of Malaysia's power is generated with the use of gas, while coal is used to produce another 30 percent. Hydroelectric dams throughout the country produce about 7 percent of the country's electricity.

Coal and gas are depleting resources. Continuous exploration will eventually lead to their total depletion. While it can be argued that uranium is also a depleting resource, the amount used for power generation is extremely small. To produce 1,000 MW of electricity for one year, 20 million tonnes of coal are needed compared with only 30 tonnes of uranium.

Accordingly, the waste produced by nuclear power is comparatively very much smaller.

Furthermore, coal-producing countries are increasingly becoming conscious of their own energy security and may impose a ceiling on the exports of coal. In addition, as Malaysia is totally dependent on these countries to import the coal, they could have the tendency to hold us to a ransom. Quid pro quo demands would be made.

Many people raised the issue about safety, arguing that nuclear energy can be potentially disastrous as 'Malaysia is a small and narrow country'. He added that a nuclear accident puts not only the entire country but also the Asean region at risk.

South Korea, Japan and France are today benefitting from nuclear energy. China and the US have an abundance of coal but are deriving benefits from nuclear power.

Asean countries are already planning to use nuclear energy for power generation. Our neighbours Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are planning to build two nuclear plants each. Are we going to tell them not to? For these countries, nuclear is necessary for continuous survival.

If Thailand and Indonesia build their own plants, the risk associated with it would be the same as Malaysia having its own plants.

But the risk from nuclear is minimal. People throughout the world have been overcome by paranoia following the unfortunate accidents in Chernobyl in 1986 and Three Mile Island, US in 1979. But the fact is, there have been only two major nuclear power plant accidents.

In Chernobyl, there were 46 casualties, and most of them were firemen. The deaths were associated with a radiation leak. However, the incident is not likely to recur as the plants like those used in Chernobyl have been or are being phased out. This is one of the conditions imposed by the European Union for Eastern European countries seeking EU membership.

Malaysia has an extremely good track record in managing high-risk industries. It uses the highest standards in managing industries like the chemical industry, power production, oil and gas as well as aviation. Accidents have been kept to a bare minimum.

I am sure Malaysians, if properly trained and incentivised, are capable of operating nuclear power plants safely and efficiently.

Like the wise man said 'the only thing constant is change'. In order to face challenges of the 21st century, we have to accept and adapt to changes. It is said that mankind faces global warming and climate change challenges and nuclear is seen as a possible saviour. This would be another story. (Syed Munir Syed Qadri)

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