TodayOnline.com, a web version of a compact daily newspaper published in Singapore, posted a story on 6 January 2007 titled The atom calls to KL, Jakarta that provides some information about the atomic power plant plans for Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand, all of which are located in southeast Asia and are members of a cooperation group called Asean (Association of South-East Asian Nations).
Each of these countries have growing energy needs, are currently dependent on oil, and are very concerned about the effects of global climate change. All of those are good reasons for sovereign nations to seriously investigate to determine if increased use of atomic power is one action that they can take in response to those important issues.
The article is generally positive, but in journalistic “fairness” it repeats the familiar refrain that nuclear plants are terrorist targets (despite daily evidence that terrorists more successfully target many other types of infrastructure), that they have the potential for accidents with wide ranging consequences (though the article does correctly state that Chernobyl is the only example of such an accident and that a similar accident is not credible in modern plants), that atomic cost effectiveness is potentially tenuous depending on security requirements and construction experience, that a country’s neighbors have a right to have a voice in their development plans, that the nuclear waste issue has not been “solved”, and that uranium prices are soaring faster than oil prices.
Of course, I have no issue with discussing fears that people have about atomic energy developments. They have been repeated and emphasized enough that it is important for supporters of nuclear power developments to honestly and patiently address each one so that less knowledgeable (or atomically obsessed) people have the opportunity to question their long standing beliefs and myths. Here is one of the best suggestions in the article:
Mr Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), said that while countries were free to address their energy needs, it would help to reassure nervous neighbours. “It would be good for Asean members to discuss the moves towards nuclear energy collectively as there is a lot of uneasiness concerning its use,” he said. The grouping could discuss such issues openly and transparently, he added.
I am heartened by the increasing common understanding that nuclear fission power can be cost effective, that recent changes in the world’s energy markets cry for a reassessment of the 1980s vintage decisions to avoid fission developments, and that making coal “clean” is an energy intensive and expensive proposition that might eliminate some of its current economic advantages.
For the relatively densely populated and geographically small states in the ASEAN – you might want to consider building a large network of smaller, distributed atomic power stations that are designed to need a smaller footprint and very small buffer areas. I humbly recommend a look at Adams Engines (TM) (GRIN).