Nuclear energy in Malaysia: From “option” to “point of no return”

Explosion at the Fukushima
nuclear power plant in Japan.
(Photo: Aliran)

More than thirty non-governmental organizations have come together to warn against Malaysian government’s plan to build two nuclear reactors without consulting the public. Some of the supporters of the statement are the Consumers’ Association of Penang, Third World Network, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, Tenaganita, TERAS Pengupayaan Melayu, Women’s Aid Organization, Centre for Independent Journalism and Stop Lynas Coalition.

These groups revealed that the government had been quietly going ahead with the plan in the wake of the tragedy that befell the Fukushima plant in Japan, citing information obtained from a forum early this year.

“At a forum in February 2012, statements by the Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation and Tenaga Nasional Berhad revealed that the Nuclear Power Plant project has tiptoed to an advanced stage of development,” the statement says, adding that the final decision to “go nuclear” would be made next year or in 2014.

They cited a government report on the project which said a pre-feasibility study on nuclear energy for electricity generation was completed in 2010, while construction of two nuclear power plants has been identified.

The Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation is also said to be preparing a Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development Plan by 2013 to deliver Malaysia’s first nuclear power plant by 2021.

A detailed timeline on nuclear power deployment according to a laboratory report done for the National Key Economic Areas has stated that nuclear sites would be selected in 2014.

This stage is marked in the report as “point of no return” when the contract for the plan, believed to be worth 21.3 billion ringgits (6.7 billion dollars), will be awarded.

The groups named several potential sites for the nuclear facilities which include five coastal sites (one each in Kedah, Perak and Terengganu and two in Johor) and two inland sites (Tasik Temenggor, Perak, and Tasik Kenyir, Terengganu).

They also claimed that US firm Burns and Roe Enterprises Incorporated had been appointed to conduct feasibility studies on the Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development Plan.

“We are disappointed that the Malaysian government is determined to consider nuclear as an energy option when such technology has been rejected by a growing number of countries and carries enormous risks to health and public safety, including the indefinite accumulation of radioactive waste, which cannot be disposed of safely and which will remain lethal to future generations of Malaysians for thousands of years,” the statement adds.

Saying nuclear power was not an option for Malaysia, the NGOs called on the government to look into renewable energy.

“Besides, the cost of nuclear energy is escalating world over while the costs of renewable energy have been declining.”

“We further demand that the government come clean on its plans including disclosing the potential sites for the nuclear power plants. We call on the government to stop the on-going implementation process immediately,” it stressed.

The civil society organizations’ statement reads as follows:

 

Nuclear energy in Malaysia: From ‘option’ to ‘point of no return’

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, are extremely concerned that the Malaysian government is going ahead with its plans to build two nuclear reactors, without sufficient public information, consultation or debate.

There is concern that the government has quietly proceeded to advance its plans on nuclear energy, ignoring wide public concerns about the dangers of nuclear energy and the lethal risks of nuclear accidents, as in the Fukushima meltdown last year.

At a forum in February 2012, statements by the Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation and Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) revealed that the Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) project has tiptoed to an advanced stage of development:

Nuclear energy was singled out as one option for electricity generation on 26 June 2009 and a pre-feasibility study completed in 2010.

The construction of two nuclear power plants (NPP), with a total capacity of 2 gigawatts, was identified in 2010 as one of the Entry Point Projects in the Economic Transformation Programme.

The Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation is preparing a Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development Plan (NPIDP) which is expected to be completed by 2013, culminating in the delivery of Malaysia’s first nuclear power plant by 2021.

The final decision to ‘go nuclear’ is expected to be made in 2013 or early 2014.
A detailed timeline on nuclear power deployment (Source: Nuclear Malaysia; Malaysia NKEA OGE Laboratory 2010), indicates that the final site selection will be made in 2014, marking this as the point of no return, when the government makes its final decision and awards the contract to the successful vendor. It is expected that the twin-unit NPP will require a RM21.3bn investment up to 2020.

It has come to our knowledge that the following potential sites have already been identified:

■ Five coastal sites, one each in Kedah, Perak and Terengganu and two in Johor.

■ Two inland sites, near Tasik Temenggor, Perak, and Tasik Kenyir, Terengganu.

We have learnt that Burns and Roe Enterprises Incorporated of the United States of America has been appointed to conduct the NPIDP, feasibility studies and make recommendations to MNPC, with regard to optimal siting, reactor technology, reactor size, infrastructure development needed to support the nuclear power option, and preparation of the bid documents for solicitation of potential vendors for the NPP.

We are disappointed that the Malaysian government is determined to consider nuclear as an energy option when such technology has been rejected by a growing number of countries and carries enormous risks to health and public safety, including the indefinite accumulation of radioactive waste, which cannot be disposed of safely and which will remain lethal to future generations of Malaysians for thousands of years.

Nuclear power is not a feasible option for Malaysia, whereas renewable energy and energy efficiency are. Besides, the cost of nuclear energy is escalating world over while the costs of renewable energy have been declining.

Moreover, there has been no process of public consultation and decisions are being made without transparency or accountability. We do not accept that government-sponsored and corporate-funded meetings by pro-government groups, including academia, constitute such engagement or information, particularly when statements made at such meetings represent disinformation. As a result, the public has been deluded and misinformed about the facts of nuclear energy and nuclear power plants. The undeniable truth is that nuclear energy and nuclear power plants are not cheap, clean or safe.

In view of the serious long-term impacts of nuclear power production, we demand that the Malaysian government abandon its plans for nuclear energy and invest in safe renewable energy and energy efficiency. We further demand that the government come clean on its plans including disclosing the potential sites for the nuclear power plants. We call on the government to stop the on-going implementation process immediately.

 

List of supporting organisations

Centre for Independent Journalism
Consumers’ Association of Penang
Centre for Orang Asli Concerns
Dignity International
EcoKnights
Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia (EPSM)
Himpunan Hijau
Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL)
Jaringan Muafakat Pertubuhan Islam Perak
Majlis Perundingan Pertubuhan Islam Malaysia
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility (MPSR)
Nuke Off
Pahang Raub Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Action Committee
Peoples Green Coalition
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
Persatuan Persaudaraan Muslimah Malaysia
Persatuan Teras Pendidikan Dan Kebajikan Melayu Malaysia
Pertubuhan Gelombang Hijau Kuantan
Pertubuhan Muafakat Warga Desa (Rural Citizens) Negeri Kedah
Sahabat Alam Malaysia
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA)
Sekretariat Himpunan Ulama Rantau Asia
Social Economic Committee of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Stop Lynas Coalition
Tenaganita
TERAS Pengupayaan Melayu
Third World Network
TrEES (Treat Every Environment Special)
Warga Permuafakatan Pertubuhan Islam Darul Aman
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
LLG Cultural Development Centre
Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (BRIMAS)

Sources
Malaysia Chronicle: http://bit.ly/NLegZ4
Aliran: http://bit.ly/Omojkk

 

 

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