Plodprasob wants a new nuclear reactor in Thailand

Construction News

Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee vowed yesterday to build a new nuclear research reactor in Thailand within the next five years.

 “Thailand should have another nuclear reactor. I’ll do my best to start the project again,” Plodprasob said when he presided over the opening of the 2nd Asian Symposium on Material Testing Reactors.

 The event coincided with an open house at the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT) held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the country’s sole nuclear research reactor.

 A bid to build a new reactor in Ongkharak in Nakhon Nayok has been put on hold due to a lawsuit. But Plodprasob said he would not wait till the lawsuit goes through the courts – he would seek to restart the project.

 “Probably, we can buy a new 10-megawatt reactor with better technology,” he said.

 “I, myself, as Deputy Prime Minister will push forward this project. I will propose it to the Cabinet.”

 Plodprasop was promoted in the latest reshuffle. Previously he was science and technology minister.

 TINT said the nuclear facility, Thai Research Reactor-1, was upgraded and became known as TRR-1/1. The 1.3-megawatt reactor has been operated for 50 years, since October 1962. It now faces a shortage of uranium 235 fuel because the company that makes it may stop producing the fuel in the next five years, as fewer countries use reactors with this technology now. So, the reactor may be closed if it has no fuel by 2017.

 Many students and teachers visited the reactor yesterday on its open house day.

 Pavin Pirom, 19, an engineering student from Chulalongkorn University, said: “I like learning about how to make use of nuclear [power]. Nuclear energy is suitable for the world today as it has less effect on the environment. This is my first time to see the reactor and I felt more confident that nuclear energy is not that scary after I learned more about it.”

 Chanyanuch Arpornram, 17, a student from Phraharuthai Don Muang School (PTD), said she feared for people’s safety when talking about nuclear energy. “What I learnt here is that nuclear [power] is not as dangerous as I thought. I was really surprised when I learned that it can change the colour of gems,” she said.

 Boonchewin Chalakul, 17, another PTD student, said: “Before coming here, nuclear [power] meant weapons and destruction [bombs]. But, I found many advantages of nuclear [energy] here. So, [people should] please come and learn about what they’ve not known before.”

 Kittipong Namjan, 26, a physics teacher from PTD, said he learned about the reactor’s systematic safety so he could teach his students clearly about it. He would also take other students to study the reactor.

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