PM says no to nuclear energy source

By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The government will not allow energy generation using nuclear power in Malaysia, as more in-depth understanding is needed before it embarks on the alternative source.

Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia has suffered in the past due to the lack of knowledge in handling radiation-generating wastes.

He said nuclear energy usage needs more studies globally, particularly on ways to handle its waste to prevent any catastrophic incidents.

“In Malaysia, we generate electricity by burning fuel, coal and other sources…What we don’t believe is generating electricity using nuclear power.

“That was the stand of the government when I was the fourth PM, but unfortunately was not the stand of the fifth and sixth (PMs)…But now, I’m back,” said Dr Mahathir when delivering a keynote address at the 22nd Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said during Malaysia’s tin mining era, there was a great demand for tin tailings among manufacturers of colour televisions.

“After they found other ways to substitute the tailings, we found a huge supply of unused material and we had to negotiate with the companies to get rid of them as they had been activated and had high radiation.

“We then had to bury the tin tailings in a one sq km land,” he added.

Tailings — also known as mine dumps, leach residue or slickens — are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the uneconomic fraction (gangue) of an ore.

Dr Mahathir said proper scientific studies have to be carried out on how to manage waste from radiating materials, especially nuclear power.

Besides nuclear, he said more can be done in energy generation using locally-produced coal.

“We have a lot of coal resources, not only in Batu Arang, but in Sabah and Sarawak as well. I think we should exploit local coal resources rather than keep importing,” he said.