Nuclear power plants: No safe method of disposing radioactive waste, say NGOs

A huge explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan following a major earthquake and tsunami

No matter how deep the nuclear waste is buried, it will remain deadly and radioactive for centuries, say
Anak Malaysia Anti Nuklear and Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Anak Malaysia Anti Nuklear and Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility wish to make the following statement in response to the remarks made by Dr Mohd Zamzam Jaafar, CEO of Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation on 10 June 2015.

Dr Zamzam indicated that in the search for energy security, MNPC favours building “a lot of coal plants till 2021”, followed by a nuclear power plant, although he also says that coal is “too costly in the long term.”

It is undeniable that coal-fired power plants contribute greatly to carbon emissions and to climate change, and should be avoided. But nuclear power is not the answer.

When claiming that the “operational costs” of a nuclear power plant “would also be lower”, Dr Zamzam continues to make false claims about the true total cost of nuclear power which is concealed by vested interests in the nuclear industry.

The ‘market test’ for nuclear power has clearly failed. Forbes magazine has called it “the biggest managerial disaster in history.”

Much information about the true economics and dangers of nuclear power is suppressed by the nuclear industry and its supporters, such as:

  • its reliance on huge, undisclosed government subsidies to meet construction costs and insurance premiums against expensive accidents;
  • frequent construction delays resulting in exorbitant building costs and completion times;
  • incalculable, long drawn-out decommissioning costs;
  • unending management of nuclear waste that remains deadly and radioactive for thousands of years.

Nuclear power is based on false promises, untested premises and entrenched thinking. It is promoted through secrecy, deception and baseless assumptions about its safety and appropriateness.

The nuclear fuel cycle emits carbon dioxide and leaves a substantial carbon footprint during the mining and milling of uranium ore, the refining and enrichment of nuclear fuel, the construction and decommissioning of nuclear power plants, and the interminable management of radioactive waste.

The potential impact of nuclear disasters, such as Fukushima, cannot be minimised.

Nuclear power also contributes to the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons, nuclear war and nuclear terrorism.

Dr Zamzam is also keeping Malaysians in the dark about the actual costs of nuclear power plants. The United Kingdom has to cough out 110bn pounds to decommission 16 nuclear reactors and is struggling to come to terms with that.

The MNPC should be transparent in its dealings with the people and provide the complete picture. With Malaysia’s current economic state, building nuclear power plants will blow our finances into smithereens.

But the most deplorable aspect of nuclear power is that there is absolutely no method of safely and permanently disposing of its long-lived radioactive waste. No matter how deep the nuclear waste is buried, it will remain deadly and radioactive for centuries and will eventually emerge and re-enter the human environment and threaten human health and wellbeing.

Therefore, it will be highly irresponsible and immoral to leave such a legacy to future generations of Malaysians – your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The answer to energy security and climate change is energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy, as well as changing the mindset of base load power by decentralising piower supply, as is now happening in Germany and other countries in Europe.

Anas Alam Faizli
Anak Malaysia Anti Nuklear – Aman

Dr Ron McCoy
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility – MPSR

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G.R.L. Cowan
22 Jun 2015 12.49am

The nub of the deception McCoy is attempting is here: “No matter how deep the nuclear waste is buried, it will remain deadly and radioactive for centuries and will eventually emerge and re-enter the human environment and threaten human health and wellbeing”.

It is untrue in the same way it would be untrue to predict that no matter how sturdy the saltshakers in the *Titanic* are, their salt will eventually emerge and threaten the health and well-being of ocean life.

17 Jun 2015 11.33am

We have huge potential for renewable energy at the hundreds of palm oil mills in Malaysia, which is not tapped at the present. Electricity export capacity of two thousand four hundred 2400 MW combined with six thousand six hundred 6600 MW of industrial heat through biomass export is available from the surplus at palm oil mills. Low cost proven technologies can enable these energy surplus exports. Dr. Zamzam knows this well as he was heading the national BIOGEN project. He considers Nuclear energy to be an easy path, high profile and prestigious to be associated with! Please see for more information.