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

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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 (MNPC) 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 MNPC 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.

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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.

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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

  1. Centre for Independent Journalism
  2. Consumers’ Association of Penang
  3. Centre for Orang Asli Concerns
  4. Dignity International
  5. EcoKnights
  6. Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia (EPSM)
  7. Himpunan Hijau
  8. Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL)
  9. Jaringan Muafakat Pertubuhan Islam Perak
  10. Majlis Perundingan Pertubuhan Islam Malaysia
  11. Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility (MPSR)
  12. Nuke Off
  13. Pahang Raub Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Action Committee
  14. Peoples Green Coalition
  15. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  16. Persatuan Persaudaraan Muslimah Malaysia
  17. Persatuan Teras Pendidikan Dan Kebajikan Melayu Malaysia
  18. Pertubuhan Gelombang Hijau Kuantan
  19. Pertubuhan Muafakat Warga Desa (Rural Citizens) Negeri Kedah
  20. Sahabat Alam Malaysia
  21. Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA)
  22. Sekretariat Himpunan Ulama Rantau Asia
  23. Social Economic Committee of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
  24. Stop Lynas Coalition
  25. Tenaganita
  26. TERAS Pengupayaan Melayu
  27. Third World Network
  28. TrEES (Treat Every Environment Special)
  29. Warga Permuafakatan Pertubuhan Islam Darul Aman
  30. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  31. LLG Cultural Development Centre
  32. Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (BRIMAS)
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