News focus: Indonesia to operate nuke plant in 2016
Thu, July 23 2009 21:53 | 1137 Views
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Despite opposition from several quarters, the government is seemingly resolved to continue its plan to build a nuclear power plant as a cheap power supply resource for the people.
"We are now popularizing the nuclear power development plan. We hope we would have already operated a nuclear power plant commercially in 2016," Research and Technology Minister Kusmayanto Kadiman said on Thursday.
The government has earlier planned to develop a nuclear power plant in the Muria Peninsula, Jepara district, Central Java, to increase power supply in the country.
Before starting to build a nuclear power reactor, the National Atomic Energy Agency (BATAN) has carried out 30 years of feasibility studies with consultants from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1976, from Italy in 1984, from BECHTEL (US) in 1984 and from the United States and Japan in 1994.
However, strong opposition from local people, non-governmental organizations and environmentalists have caused the government to delay the project and put it as a last resort in its efforts to build power generators and to increase the country`s power capacity.
Not long ago, tens of non-governmental and mass organizations from Jepara, Kudus and Pati districts grouped in the Muria Nature Conservation Network (Jala Muria), called on the government to stop its nuke plant and replace it with a renewable energy project.
"The government should give priority to the development of renewable energy as Indonesia is rich in such a resource," chairman of Jala Muria, Lilo Sunaryo said.
He said that the people of Jepara and other districts in the vicinity rejected the government plan to build a nuclear power plant in Muria peninsula because the risk it would create was far bigger than the benefit it would give to the people.
According to Winarno Thohir, chairman of the Reliable Fishermen Association chairman (KTNA), his organization has since in the past voiced its disagreement to the nuclear project because the peninsula is a fertile area for agriculture.
Jala Muria chairman, Sunaryo said that his network had been opposed to the nuclear plant since three years ago. "From the technological aspect, a nuclear power plant still has weaknesses even though now it has used a new generation technology which is claimed to be very safe," Sunaryo said.
That`s why, when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed his personal disagreement to the development of a nuclear power plant in Muria peninsula during his campaign activities in Central Java recently, various quarters welcomed it positively.
The president`s statement prompted various quarters to raise a positive response. "The head of state`s remarks showed the government`s wisdom with regard to discourse among the public over the nuclear issue," Winarno Thohir said at that time.
Over the past few years, oppositions to the plan have been expressed by local people, organizations and environmentalists. The government is advised to develop instead alternative environment friendly sources such as water, solar energy and sea current.
The IAEA data show that nuclear waste radiation would last for 24 thousand years.
Therefore, Sunaryo, a nuclear turbine expert who graduated from a University in Russia, said that nuclear wastes needed a special handling for about 24 thousand years to prevent them from creating environment problems.
The peril of a nuclear incident is the main reason behind the people`s opposition. The explosion of Chernobyl`s nuclear reactor in Russia in 1986 and the leakage at Mihama`s nuclear reactor in Japan in 2004 are still fresh in their minds. In Chernobyl, ten years after the leakage, thousands of people died of exposure to discharged radioactive material.
Yet, Minister Kadiman`s statement on Thursday indicated that the government`s plan will continue. He said that the government`s target to operate a nuclear power plant in 2016 was in line with the law.
He said that Law No. 17 / 2007 on the Long Term National Development stipulated in one of its paragraphs that Indonesia should have operated a nuclear power plant in 2016. "This means that politically we have to agree the development soon. We have found a good location in Jepara," he said
He said that the government needed a long time to plan the development of a nuclear power plant. At least it will need about eight years to prepare it, beginning from deciding the location until the commercial operation. "If it is sped up, the shortest time needed for the plan is six years," he said.
The minister admitted that there was a social problem with the plan to develop a nuclear power reactor. The political aspect of the plan is the hardest part that had to be handled because it is different from a mathematical calculation.
Besides, the minister said, the social issue should also be handled with wisdom, much more there was a strong resistance. "It is impossible for us to force our will. The government even should not force its will when there is strong resistance," he said.
"At least the government should listen to what the people were suggesting. If the plan to develop the nuclear plant in Jepara meets opposition, we have to find another location," Kadiman said.(*)
Editor: Aditia Maruli
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