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OnIslam.net

Indonesia Goes Ahead with Nuclear Power Plant

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Indonesia has potential 30,000 tons of uranium as raw material for nuclear energy production on Borneo island

Indonesia will go forward with its plan to build a nuclear power plant despite domestic strong critics and the recent incident at the nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan, caused by a major earthquake and tsunami, according to the National Nuclear Agency (BATAN).

“The Fukushima incident should become a trigger for us to learn more what nuclear is,” Dr. Evy Kartini, the head of Nuclear Industry Materials at the National Nuclear Agency (BATAN), told OnIslam.net.

Kartini said the nuclear energy is a vital need for Indonesia to overcome energy crisis in the future, as the world’s fifth biggest population country has enough highly educated human resources.

“We have enough nuclear experts who are ready to build and manage the reactor.”

Kartini added that the establishment of nuclear reactors, which are more environment friendly compared to oil and coal, is needed by Indonesia as a source of alternative energy to supply electricity. “Coals and oil are limited, so we have to switch to nuclear.”

According to the National Energy Board, Indonesia needs about 400 thousands megawatt of electrical energy in the next 50 years, compared with the current capacity of approximately 30 thousands megawatt. “We have big coal reserves but very environmentally unfriendly.”

Previously, BATAN Public Relation and Legal Affairs Head, Ferhat Aziz, told reporters that the government had decided on the locations to build the nuclear power plant in Bangka-Belitung province and Muria Mountains in Central Java, because they “are far from quake and tsunami threats.”

Indonesia lies within the “Ring of Fire”, a region in the Pacific Ocean that is susceptible to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Indonesia’s volcanoes exist along the northeastern islands adjacent to and including New Guinea and the Alpide belt along the south and west from Sumatra, Java, Bali, Flores and Timor. Besides those, Indonesia also has 130 active mounts (11 of them are in alert level) out of 485 volcanoes worldwide, a geologist explained.

“But some of areas are relatively safe,” Dr. Ridwan Jamaluddin, Deputy Head Natural Resources of the Technology Research and Development Body at Technology Ministry, told OnIslam.net.

And Aziz insisted that people don’t have to worry about the potential danger of the nuclear power plant, adding that the areas in Indonesia aren’t as danger as Japan.

“Japan has no choice, surrounded by multiply threats from west, east and south,” Aziz asserted. “Indonesia is different.”

Resistances

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, there are 253 geothermal locations – the largest energy potential – in Indonesia of which 2.7 percent has been utilized as resource for power plant generation.

The efforts of BATAN to convince the public have been facing resistances from various parties, however, especially after the leakage from the Fukushima reactors.

“Better for the government to make use of geothermal rather than nuclear, considering the danger,” Ali Akbar, Deputy Director of a leading Indonesian environmental organization, WALHI, told reporters.

According to him, Indonesia has 265 geothermal spots spread throughout the country, as the energy sources are almost unlimited.

“That means, once we open a geothermal then it supplies the energy forever,” Akbar asserted.

Another environmental activist urged the government to rethink its plan to build nuclear power plant; in light of its location within the Pacific Ring of Fire, and especially for Java Island.

“From the technological side, we are still far from being competent,” Marwan Azis, an activist at the Society of Indonesia Environmental Journalist, told OnIslam.net. According to Azis, there have also been questions about whether the nation can bear the cost of the reactors, which is expected to price up to $4 billion. “Too expensive compared with the potential danger,” he said.

After the Fukushima tragedy, Indonesians seem to be reminded of the deadly tragedy in Aceh seven years ago, where more than 170,000 people of the most eastern province lost their lives to the 9.0 Richter scale quake and tsunami. “I don’t think it’s a good time to dream of nuclear reactors”

He criticized BATAN for planning to setup the plant in Bangka-Belitung, off the shore of Sumatra, on the reason of safety instead of placing the reactor in the Java, adding that the option is irrational considering 80 percent of electricity consumers are in the densest island. “Don’t compare to Japan, because we have many alternatives of renewable energy.”

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, there are 253 geothermal locations – the largest energy potential – in Indonesia of which 2.7 percent has been utilized as resource for power plant generation.

Being located on the Ring of Fire, Indonesia is estimated to hold about 40 percent of the world’s geothermal reserves, equivalent to a total of 27,140 megawatt (MW) of power, the data said.

According to the data, Indonesian coal miners expect to produce 340 million tons of coal in 2011, an increase of 23 percent from 275 million tons last year, to catch up with the growing demand at domestic and international markets.

Political Motives

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Learning about nuclear technology isn’t only for the sake of generating electricity, but to make use of its radiation for the benefit of human health, agriculture, livestock, petroleum and other sources of clean water

Kartini, head of BATAN, agreed that Indonesia is rich with natural resources, but that does not mean that the country has to ignore the potentials of nuclear energy which produces zero pollution.

“We have to make it possible, otherwise a neighbor like Malaysia would do so and leave us behind.”

According to BATAN, Indonesia currently has three nuclear reactors, which have been established since 1965. The three reactors are located in Bandung, Yogyakarta and Serpong.

“We have to eradicate the ignorance of people on nuclear.”

Kartini added that, if the irrational resistance against the establishment of nuclear power plant keeps continuing, local human resources might flee abroad and other countries would benefit.

“We have so many inactive nuclear experts who are ready to flee if not used here,” she said. According to her, politics have been the main reason for Indonesia’s lack of successful in developing the technology, which is why it had lagged behind other nation in the field.

“Those so called environmental activists have fooled our people by giving mislead information,” Kartini explained, pointing out that the government should teach people about nuclear energy systematically and comprehensively – not partially – through formal education and research development. “Let them be knowledgeable about nuclear technology.”

Indonesia’s nuclear goal is for peace and safety, Kartini insisted, adding that learning about the technology isn’t only for the sake of generating electricity, but to make use of its radiation for the benefit of human health, agriculture, livestock, petroleum and other sources of clean water.

“We shouldn’t be late; Indonesia needs nuclear energy for our future.”

She added that Indonesia has potential 30,000 tons of uranium as raw material for nuclear energy production on Kalimantan (Borneo) island, with energy coming from one gram of uranium equating that being produced through three tones of coals.

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