courtesy of The Star online (21 October 2008)

Nuclear energy paper to be tabled by year-end


PUTRAJAYA: The paper on nuclear energy as an alternative source of power generation for the country by 2020 will be tabled to the Cabinet by the end of this year.

Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadillah Yusof said the paper, which was worked on by both staff from his ministry and the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry, would also identify the criteria and sites suitable for the location of nuclear plants in the country.

“The Energy, Water and Communications Ministry is currently fine-tuning the paper. The sites must be on a rocky, stable base and close to water. We have a few potential areas in mind.

“Once the paper is approved as policy, then we can begin the next step,” he told reporters after launching the Asian Nuclear Safety Network Caravan at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here on Monday.

“Although the initial investment for a nuclear plant is huge at around RM6bil or more, the power generation in the long run is more economical,” he added.

The Malaysia Nuclear Agency had looked at the possibility of 19 sites back in the 1970s and 1980s, but had abandoned these after the expansion of oil and gas industry in the country, he said.

“Some of these sites have now been developed so both Tenaga Malaysia and the agency will have to look at new locations,” said Fadillah, adding that the nuclear plant, if approved by the Cabinet, would be located in Peninsula Malaysia.

The development and building of a nuclear plant would be a 100-year investment because it would take some 20 years before this could even be constructed, he said.

“It will then take 60 years to operate it and another 20 years to decommission an old plant,” he said.

Fadillah said his ministry was also embarking on a programme to instill awareness in public about the advantages of nuclear energy in order not to meet up with resistance later.

“Many developed countries like France and Britain met with a lot of public resistance when they started on their nuclear energy programmes. But the development of third generation or even fourth generation technology, which is safe as long as one follows the protocols and guidelines, has managed to clear much of the fears,” he said.

Fadillah said the ministry was also in the process of getting input from international nuclear bodies on international standards and guidelines to set up nuclear plants.




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