Nuclear Power as fifth source of energy in Malaysia

NUCLEAR technology is often seen in a negative light by most people. However, they don't realise that there are many positive applications for this form of technology. For instance, nuclear technology has been used to increase output in agriculture and industry, in the field of medical science, it can be applied to study, non-invasively, the patient's body through x-ray, while in engineering it can be applied to non destructive testing and lots more. Sixty Four years after the atom was split, there is still talk about the need to demystify nuclear science and technology in its many peaceful applications. That a lot of fear, suspicion and uncertainty which still prevails is recognised because the atom for destruction is imprinted in people's minds.
“Malaysia is now set to use nuclear power as an alternative energy source by 2025, as it is the cheapest source of power in the long run with several government agencies were working on forming a committee to implement the policy”, Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadillah Yusof said.
In Malaysia application of nuclear science and technology for national development was established since 1972 through an agency known as Centre for Application of Nuclear Malaysia (CRANE) which later changed to Tun Ismail Atomic Research Centre (PUSPATI).
When PETRONAS was established on 17 August 1974 after 19 oilfields was encountered at Malaysian waters in 1973 (where 90,000 barrels per day of petroleum were withdrawn), the need of nuclear as a source of energy was put aside.
PUSPATI was then renamed to Malaysian Institute for Nuclear Technology Research (MINT) in 1994 after It was placed under Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment in 1990. Following its restructuring, MINT was then given a new identity as Malaysian Nuclear Agency (Nuclear Malaysia) in September 2006 until now.
According to the Malaysia Energy Centre (MEC), Malaysia registered a gross electricity generation of 101,325 gigawatt hours (GWh - One gigawatt hour is equivalent to one billion watts). As the country's energy bill increases because of increasing demand for clean and sustainable energy and depleting energy resources such as nation's natural gas which is expected to be exhausted by 2019, there was a need to reconsider for peaceful, safe and effective use of nuclear energy.
Should Malaysia emulate Japan in taking steps to generate electricity since nuclear power is the most viable choice as solar power, the other alternative, was still too expensive to be mass-produced? For instance to generate 1,000MW of electricity per year through solar power 100km square of area is needed, while 30 tonnes of uranium is needed for Nuclear fission.
In most issue there are pros and cons.
The popular anti-nuclearism of the 1970s and 1980s had two inestimable benefits.
Firstly, it helped end the Cold War. Just as memories were fading of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (where on Aug 6, 1945, an American bomber, named Enola Gay, dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing more than 100,000 men, women and children. The mushroom cloud from the blast was seen by the crew of another American plane, Jabbitt III, some 320 kilometres away), the nuclear scares of Windscale in Britain, Three Mile Island in the United States and Chernobyl in the Ukraine refreshed the popular drive to accelerate nuclear disarmament and curtail proliferation.
Secondly, it galvanised the search for alternative energy through the increasingly sophisticated exploitation of wind, water, geothermal and solar power. On these two points alone, much credit is due to those who have been devoutly opposed to the nuclear option on the basis of what can happen when such technology fails.
The lessons of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl however have been learnt and technological advances since then have made nuclear plants safe. Nuclear scientist Jong Hyun Kim claimed that nuclear reactors were so safe that if you wanted to make an aircraft as safe as a nuclear reactor, it would never fly.
The role of nuclear power plants is to stabilize and secure the supply of electricity which would also help to keep electricity prices at a reasonable level and protect the environment from harmful pollutants as a result of the massive use of fossil fuels.
Whatever decision, in my opinion, the pros and cons need to be weigh wisely before embarking on any nuclear power programme in the country for the sake of the people.