Environmental And Carbon Dioxide Issues
First and foremost, operation of nuclear power plant is more complex and dangerous than any other types of power plant. The health and safety aspects of nuclear energy have to be taken account due to nuclear insecurity. In reality, no matter how small the probability, nuclear power plants pose a real and finite danger. Nuclear reactor safety is uncertain since human error and unpredictable events are unavoidable.
The catastrophic nuclear accidents at nuclear power plants of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Daiichi are most likely to be remembered by the public. These disasters have persuaded many countries to give up nuclear power and invest in renewable energy. The potential for a nuclear disaster endangers everyone in the world, both currently living and those in the future.However, a nuclear power plant is hazardous to human health even without such accidents.
A scientific study which was published in the European Journal of Cancer Care in 2008, showed that leukaemia death rates in children living near nuclear power plants in the United States have greatly increased last two decades. An aging nuclear reactor might be expected to become less reliable as time goes on. This statement is proven when the greatest increases in fatality rates occurred near the aged nuclear power plants.
Based on a meta-analysis of 17 research papers which was carried out on 2007 and covered 136 nuclear sites in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, United States, Canada, Japan and Spain, there was an increase of the leukaemia cases in children under nine years old, living near the sites, from 14% to 21%, while mortality rates increased from 5% to 24%.A German study which was published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2008, revealed 117% increase in leukaemia and 60% increase in cancers among young children living near all 16 large NPPs between 1980 and 2003. The data collected showed that children living within 5 km of NPPs had chance more than twice higher than those living further away to get cancer. Apart from that, reports state that the Malaysian government has identified several potential sites for the construction of the nuclear reactors, but the citizens have not been informed and are very concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability.
Every Malaysian citizen has a right and a civic responsibility to oppose the introduction of nuclear energy since lethal radiation is odourless, invisible and knows no boundaries. Nowadays, the worldwide trend is to invest in and rely on renewable sources of energy.
2. Environmental and Carbon dioxide issues
The Malaysian government has erroneously underestimated and played down the harmful environmental impact of a nuclear power plant. The government's undertaking at the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference to voluntarily reduce 40% carbon emissions intensity per GDP by 2020 is laudable, but opting for nuclear energy to achieve this goal is a fundamentally flawed decision. Nuclear power is not environmentally friendly or safe. The nuclear fuel cycle itself - uranium mining, extraction, fuel enrichment, plant construction, maintenance and monitoring, processing and storing radioactive waste, decommissioning and cleaning up radioactive contamination - requires an enormous supply of energy, much more than other energy sources. According to international studies which take into account the whole nuclear fuel cycle, a nuclear power plant indirectly emits between 376,000 and 1,300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Compared to renewable energy, nuclear power releases four to five times more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced. Nuclear power plants produce ultra-hazardous, highly radioactive waste that will remain radioactive for more than a hundred thousand years. No country in the world has managed to safely dispose of its nuclear waste permanently, as currently there is no such technology.
All over the world, NPPs store radioactive waste temporarily under water in pools on site. Controversial plans for permanent underground storage in deep geologic repository sites have yet to be implemented. It remains impossible to predict whether any designated area will remain dry or geologically stable.
Malaysia is geologically made up mainly of limestone which is highly porous, unstable and prone to erosion, making it highly unsuitable for the storage of long-lived, radioactive waste. The recent unprecedented flooding in the Peninsula should serve as a warning that NPPs are unsuitable for Malaysia and incompatible with safety. Moreover, climate change remains unpredictable and may trigger unprecedented natural disasters which could cut off the electricity supply to a reactor's cooling system and cause overheating.
This would endanger the safety of a nuclear power plant and possibly result in a nuclear meltdown, as in Fukushima.
3. Cost and liability
The Malaysian government has erroneously underestimated the economic cost of nuclear energy, guesstimating that nuclear energy would generate electricity more cheaply than other sources of energy. Nuclear energy is not cheap, contrary to disinformation circulated by the nuclear industry. The true economics of nuclear energy are masked by the enormous subsidies for expensive reactor construction, uranium enrichment, nuclear waste management, insurance against accidents, government loan guarantees, and decommissioning. All funds channelled into a suspect, lameduck nuclear industry will take away limited resources from much needed research and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology.
Moody's Corporate Finances (the ratings and risk firm) recently estimated that nuclear energy's capital cost per kilowatt was 275% higher than that of wind energy and 150% higher than solar energy. It projects that nuclear costs will rise further, while the cost of other renewable energy sources will be substantially reduced. Numerous Wall Street studies and independent energy analysts have estimated that electricity from renewable energy sources costs an average of 6 US cents (about 18 sen) per kwh, while electricity from nuclear energy is about 12 to 20 US cents (about 36 to 60 sen) per kwh, excluding the cost of any catastrophic nuclear accident.
Recently, Versicherungsforen Leipzig, a German specialist actuarial and insurance company, revealed that full insurance against a nuclear disaster would increase the price of nuclear-generated electricity to 2.36 euros/kwh (about RM9.50/kwh).This shows that the real cost of nuclear energy is very much higher than the Malaysian government's estimated cost.
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