Nuclear-ready infrastructure for Malaysia?

UPDATE: the podcast of the morning show on BFM radio discussing whether Malaysia is ready for nuclear power plants is up, though it might actually be more useful if they have those with some expertise on the socio-technical aspect of NPP on the show, as some of the opinions are not accurate.

This announcement was from a press conference on March 7 during the Nuclear Power Asia conference, where Nancy Shukri was the officiating minister. This was after all the denials and indecisiveness regarding where Malaysia stands (although, at press time, no official support is given towards unequivocal affirmation of the govt on the next move, probably because of the pending GE). I think the only way the government can have proper public engagement and dialogue is to stop flubbing their way out of difficult issues. This comes in the tail of the announcement by the Vietnamese parliament late last year that they will cancel the NPP (nuclear power plant) project that was already almost at a construction stage. In preparation, Malaysia is working out a new set of regulations governing the nuclear infrastructures (which will replace the 1984 Act 304), about the time the public is obsessing over the dumped iridium isotope -92. Coincidentally, it is not only the public but the nuclear industry seems concerned with how to safeguard potential corrupt practices that could lead to the compromising of the reactor core materials (including the possibility of redirection for terrorist use), and how to secure them (not only after deployment but during the supply chain process). In light of the Fukushima Daiichi incident, safeguards also include how to choose sites, what custom protections are needed to counter forecasted potential natural disasters, and how to integrate indigenous emergency preparedness systems. These are all major considerations given that previous nuclear-related disasters had produced catastrophic outcomes (even if not to the level of an Armageddon).

But I don’t think this is merely a Malaysia issue, but an issue with all governments having to deal with public distrust and fears when it comes to nuclear issues. In the 1950s, the anti-nukes groups were active in publishing materials detailing the destructive tendencies of nuclear bombs post-Hiroshima – SF novels, films, and even animations were produced on the horrors of radiation fallout that pretty much convinced the public to resist any possibility of nuclear in most forms (although the forms most associated with such dangers are still the warheads and power plants). Within the same period, the US was engaged in the largest warhead manufacturing while also pushing for the establishment for the Atoms for Peace Program. There will be more discussion on this in a forthcoming work.

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