IAEA warns Thai public not yet ready for them
The Energy Ministry has proposed Thailand delay plans to have its first two nuclear power plants in 2020 by three years after the International Atomic Energy Agency said the country was not ready for the projects.
Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO) secretary-general Boonsong Kerdklang said yesterday that his agency would advise the National Energy Committee at a meeting to be held tomorrow to postpone the construction of two planned 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plants.
Under its 20-year power development plan, Thailand would have five nuclear power plants with a combined generating capacity of 5,000 megawatts within five years from 2020.
Provinces that are being considered as potential sites for nuclear power plants are Trat, Chumphon, Nakhon Sawan, Surat Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen, Kalasin and Prachuap Khiri Khan.
The first two nuclear plants were scheduled to be operational in 2020 and 2021.
Mr Boonsong said the EPPO decided the nuclear projects should be postponed after receiving advice from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Thailand was not ready to build nuclear power plants.
The IAEA assessed the criteria for Thailand’s readiness for nuclear power development. It said the country still lacked public acceptance and proper laws to support the programme.
The Thai people also needed more time to accept nuclear technology in the wake of the disaster at the earthquake-and tsunami- hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan, he said.
Mr Boonsong said three 800-megawatts gas-fired power plants would be built to offset electricity from the delayed nuclear plants.
The national oil company, PTT Plc, would have to seek more gas from the Gulf of Thailand, Burma and other overseas sources, to feed the new gas-fired power plants, the EPPO secretary-general said.
Coal-fired power may not be taken into account due to strong protests from environmental activists, he said.
Santi Chokchaichamnankit, of the Nuclear Watch Project, said the nuclear power plant projects should not only be delayed, but removed from the national power development plan.
“This is not about Thailand’s readiness to build nuclear power plants. We oppose the projects because there are lots of reliable studies showing that nuclear power is not a safe and environmentally-friendly technology,” Mr Santi said.He called on the government to stop spending vast amounts to promote nuclear power plants by giving one-sided information to the public.
The Nuclear Power Programme Development Office was established in 2006 to oversee nuclear power plant projects.
The office has spent about 1.98 billion baht from 2007 to 2010 to conduct studies and campaign for nuclear power plant projects.
Mr Santi said the postponement of the nuclear power plant projects would only allow pro-nuclear agencies to spend more money to campaign for public support of the projects.
Meanwhile, the Network of People Against Nuclear Power Plants has said it will rally at the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok today to protest against the Vietnamese government’s planned construction of eight nuclear power plants in the country.
They are concerned the plants would have a negative impact and send harmful radiation to neighbouring countries, including Thailand.