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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Future Of Malaysian Nuclear Power Plants

For now, Japan has avoided a full-scale nuclear disaster. A hydrogen explosion at Fukushima No 3 nuclear plant earlier injured 11 people and collapsed a reactor building but officials report that the core is still intact and that radiation levels are below legal limits. Seawater is still being pumped into the reactor in a desperate attempt to cool it down.

But what one can say with confidence is that the crisis will shift public opinion everywhere against nuclear power. Japan, which currently relies on nuclear plants to generate roughly 29 per cent of its electricity, had planned to increase this to as much as 40 per cent by 2017. That now looks distinctly unlikely.

In Malaysia, the Energy Minister, Peter Chin Fah Kui, a staunch supporter of nuclear power, will struggle to sell a new generation of reactors to a sceptical electorate. He suggested that public opinion in Malaysia would be "very influenced" by the investigation in Japan and don't speculate too much!

But with the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster just a few weeks away, the fear that history could repeat itself in Fukushima will incline all but the most ardent supporters of nuclear power against the technology. WZWH always stress that "we don't live in a seismically active earthquake zone", the dramatic TV images of exploding reactors will leave an abiding impression.

Yet while the world is transfixed by the threat of a nuclear disaster, the death toll from the tsunami and the worst earthquake in Japan's history, now estimated at more than 10,000, continues to rise.

Despite one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded and a direct hit from a tsunami, the core of the reactors have been contained. This is no Chernobyl.

When the panic headlines die down, a very strong case will be made for Japanese engineering and the 'Defence in depth' design principals. This will contrast favourably with the risk from emitting yet more CO2 from fossil fuels.

WZWH belief is that if the nuclear plant does not go into meltdown then this very fact will prove that nuclear power is indeed the medium term future of energy.

The reality is something can go wrong with anything we build. It’s the effects of what happens when it does go wrong that we need to look at and consider.

Here we have two power plants in Japan where they are meticulous about details. They have built things to such extreme standards that no other society has or will. So if something can go wrong in Japan just wait for the earthquake in California, the outcomes will be far worse. Plants across the USA are not built to such high standards of the ones in Japan. They don’t have the people operating them that are as careful when compared to the Japanese.

The sad reality is it all comes down to size and profits as giant nuclear plant will generate lots of power (profits). Even large scale solar and wind farms won’t make power on the same scale. We the people and stewards of the Earth need to agree to protect it and build things we can sustain.

WZWH found that the immediate lower cost of nuclear is better than the higher cost of solar and wind. The right thing is always the cost effective thing in the long run.

Any direct comparison with Chernobyl is invalid. While both suffered a hydrogen explosion, Chernobyl's only had the irradiating effects that it did because the explosion occurred within the area that contained radioactive material and scattered that material like a dirty bomb. This was poor design. The Japanese power station's explosion occurred outside of the area that contains nuclear material, making it as safe as a massive hydrogen explosion can be described to be.

If anything, the events in Japan have increased WZWH confidence in the safety of nuclear power, though WZWH still think we need a greener long-term solution.

Nuclear power is the most obvious and reasonable choice as an alternative to fossil fuels. Every word that the media uses to attack Nuclear power is another nail in the environments coffin.

Analysis Japan's nuclear powerplants have performed magnificently in the face of a disaster hugely greater than they were designed to withstand, remaining entirely safe throughout and sustaining only minor damage. The unfolding Fukushima story has enormously strengthened the case for advanced nations – including Japan – to build more nuclear powerplants, in the knowledge that no imaginable disaster can result in serious problems.

The future of Malaysian nuclear power plants is bright due to the fact that Malaysia is the safest country in the world free from heavy disasters. Malaysia should proceeds with the plan of building nuclear power plants. The Malaysians do not fear.

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