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Indonesia’s Agency Defends Nuclear Development for Industry and Energy

Saturday April 21, 2007

The Nuclear Technology Supervisory Agency has defended the government's policy to develop nuclear technology for research, industry and energy on the basis that such technology has been proven safe.

Agency head Sukarman Aminjoyo said Indonesia has operated three nuclear reactors for several years and no accidents have occurred. "All forms of technology involve certain risks, but since the early development of our reactors we have surveyed all probabilities. We have even anticipated the possibility of risks associated with potential earthquakes," Sukarman told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday (8/5/07), as quoted Indonesia’s Trade and Investment News.

He said that the safety and security of Indonesia's nuclear reactors had been proven during the earthquake in Yogyakarta last May. The nuclear reactor at the research center there was unscathed, showing that nuclear energy is safe even in the "ring of fire" if proper design technology is used. "Regulations oblige us to choose power plant technology that has been proven safe, rather than new, untested technology," he said.

Sukarman also said that many Asian countries frequently affected by earthquakes such as Japan and Korea had long been developing their own nuclear power plants. "Japan has built more than 50 power plants and South Korea has built more than 20 power plants. Japan is often hit by earthquakes but has avoided nuclear accidents. Why are we so worried about risks we are able to anticipate?" Sukarman asked.

In Indonesia, reactors located in Yogyakarta, Bandung and Serpong, Banten, are being used for research.

Last year President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced government plans to start building a nuclear power plant in 2010 (in the northern promontory of Central Java.ed.) which will commence operations in 2016. This power plant will be the first nuclear power plant to provide energy to the public and industrial sectors in the country. Sukarman said that in many countries, nuclear power plants are owned and run by the government as strategic resources, but Indonesia's 2006 Law on Nuclear Reactors allows the private sector to apply for nuclear power plant licenses.