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This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Uneasy over safety procedures at nuclear plants

An article I was curious to read because it represents an example of antinuclear discourse in the third world. Chernobyl story is an old story, and looks like the speaker does not really know WHY it did happen - not because of the reactor construction, but because of tests with all security systems off. Such things might happen if the reactor gets in hands of crazy people who hardly know the consequences of their actions. Explode a couple of chemical plants and you will get much more severe consequences then Chernobyl but that is not used as an argument to stop chemical production.

Again, here we find typical "poor us" and "evil and rich them", willing to leave us a dangerous technology that they do not want to have at home, and so on. Enjoy this propaganda piece :)

There are many who still oppose the use of nuclear energy to generate power. The Centre for Environmental Technology and Development Malaysia (CETDEM) executive-director Anthony Tan says that there is no technology for the safe disposal of depleted rods from power stations, which have a half-life of a few thousand years.

“The only thing they can do now is to store it deep underground or have it reprocessed,” says Tan, adding that the depleted uranium can be refined and used as raw materials to build weapons of mass destruction.

There is also the matter of the environment, says Tan.

As a result of the Chernobyl disaster, radioactive particles were strewn into the atmosphere from Soviet Union into a large part of Europe, resulting in the evacuation and resettlement of over 336,000 people.

“If such an incident happens in Malaysia, who would be safe?” says Tan.

The IAEA report on the disaster said that more than 4,000 thyroid cancer cases had been diagnosed in children, and it was most likely that a large fraction of these was attributable to radioactive particles in milk.

Tan also questioned the decommissioning of a nuclear power station after it has passed its usefulness.

“How does one disable a nuclear power station? This is one unseen cost the proponents of nuclear power did not see,” he says.

Tan adds that a huge amount of funding or incentives are needed to make the nuclear industry viable as the costs are astronomical.

“This funding could go into renewable energy (such as solar), making it cheaper for the middle class,” he says.

He adds that the known reserves for uranium are depleting and this would also increase its cost.

“The whole argument of using nuclear as a cheap source of power then becomes questionable,” says Tan.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is also against nuclear energy as it alleges that Western corporations are pushing for nuclear power in developing countries because of opposition to it from environmental groups and civil society.

“They want to dump on us their technology (probably outmoded) and make a profit. Further, we will also be dependent on them for maintenance and spare parts. We should resist this pressure from them and their local agents linked to politicians,” says CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris.

And although modern nuclear power stations are said to be safe, Tan believes that it is better not to take chances.

“It can be very safe, but if one mistake or oversight is made, there won't be any second chances,” says Tan.

(Source: The Star, Malaysia)

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