PETALING JAYA, 26 May 2009: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) to reconsider its plan to commission a nuclear power plant in Malaysia by 2025.
“I am not a nuclear scientist but I believe I know enough of the dangers of using nuclear (fissionable) material,” said Mahathir in a blog posting on 24 May.
“[R]adioactive material used as fuel for power generation remain radioactive and dangerous to health even after the fuel has been exhausted,” said Mahathir.
He added that radioactive waste could not be disposed anywhere. It must be transported in special lead containers and special ships to certain countries so that it could be reprocessed.
In 1986, a nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded as a result of flawed reactor design that was operated with poorly trained personnel, causing 30 deaths and the relocation of more than 300,000 people.
“Despite thousands of tons of concrete being poured into the site (in Chernobyl), the power plant is still emitting dangerous radiation,” said Mahathir.
Mahathir said, similarly, the residual radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki remained harmful long after the bombings.
“We had poured tons of cement on the buried material. More than one square mile of the burial site is barred to humans. The site is still radioactive and dangerous,” said Mahathir.
“The fact is that we do not know enough about radioactive nuclear material…Until we do, it is far better if Malaysia avoids using nuclear power for electrical generation,” concluded Mahathir.
The government has not decided to include nuclear power as an acceptable energy option.
However, TNB nuclear energy unit head Dr Mohd Zamzam Jaafar said Korea Electric Power Corp would sign an agreement with TNB in June to help conduct a preliminary feasibility study on what may be Malaysia’s first nuclear plant.