Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) finds the government’s insistence on continuing its pursuit of nuclear energy as an alternative to coal-burning to be irresponsible and criminal in the face of the nuclear disaster unfolding in Fukushima.
Recent statements that Malaysia will put safety first while pursuing nuclear energy and how a feasibility study by private companies can help provide answers are incredulous to say the least – especially when there are various safe alternative sustainable energy sources available out there that do not pose risks to our families and burn the taxpayers’ pockets while generating more employment.
In view of the fact that setting up nuclear power plants will never promise total safety, Germany, being a developed nation, is on its way to wean itself away from nuclear technology. It is now shutting seven of its 17 power reactors, while, Malaysia on the other hand is insisting on going ahead with its proposal to build two nuclear power plants by 2021!
The risks of nuclear power plants have been laid bare and history is repeating itself tragically in the nuclear meltdown following the earthquake-tsunami disaster in Japan, a country of advanced technology, which seems to be fighting a losing war as it struggles to control the life-threatening radioactive leaks after recent explosions at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano has since warned that efforts to control the explosions of nuclear reactors in Fukushima could be a race against time.
The current situation in Japan is so critical that it is compared to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US in 1979. The French Nuclear Watchdog has rated this situation at level six, while the Chernobyl disaster was rated at seven, reported to be at the highest point of the scale.
As the world watches in total helplessness at this horrific disaster unfolding in a developed nation, as we read of the hundreds of thousands exposed to the leaking radiation and ponder the implications on the health of the survivors and the environment, it is disturbing that the government is seriously considering building nuclear plants in Malaysia. Getting private companies to do a feasibility study is just a ploy to buy time while waiting for people to forget what is happening in Japan.
The very fact of getting private companies, naturally profit-oriented, to do a feasibility study already creates doubts over its findings. Until now there are no clear solutions on how to deal with the radioactive waste, which can take 100000 years to be isolated – meaning we have to secure thousands of generations ahead of us to help work on the wastes, which naturally, must be very expensive to maintain, even an impossible task.
PSM urges the government to invest in green technologies that do not pose negative repercussions such as solar, tidal and windmill technologies, among others. Since Malaysia has a healthy energy reserve of about 40 per cent, it is truly timely to use this opportunity to explore sustainable green alternatives. The Stanford University has in its study pointed out that with political will, 100 per cent renewable energy that is safe can be achieved by 2030.
The question is, why pursue something with so many risks while sustainable solutions are available? There are risks in life that we cannot avoid but it is criminal to allow risks that we can clearly avoid.
PSM urges the government to cancel its nuclear power plans, as an alternative source of energy. It is time to seriously look into sustainable development with green technology in mind. There are many independent and reputable organisations waiting to provide the necessary information and support.
No to nuclear energy! Yes to green alternatives!
Kalai Joethi Sahadevan is the Environment Desk Coordinator for the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM)