Nuclear Power Plant In Indonesia: To Build Or Not To Build

Plans to build a nuclear power plant in Central Java gained traction after a new survey revealed that the majority of Indonesians support its construction.

AsianScientist (Dec. 17, 2012) – Plans to build a nuclear power plant in Central Java gained traction after a new survey revealed that the majority of Indonesians support its construction.

In a recent interview with the Antara News, Indonesia’s Minister of Research and Technology, Gusti Muhammad Hatta, was optimistic that Indonesia would able to handle the development of nuclear power to support the country’s energy needs.

He dismissed fears that the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disasters could someday occur in Indonesia, adding that the two ill-fated plants were “based on old technology.”

“We have many experts and therefore can definitely manage a nuclear power plant,” said the Minister.

A few months post-Fukushima, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed doubts over the safety of nuclear technology while on a state visit to Tokyo.

The Minister’s statement, however, increases speculation that Indonesia would ultimately end up with an operational nuclear power plant by 2019.

Weighing in on the topic, Djarot Wisnubroto, the Head of Indonesia’s National Nuclear Power Agency (BATAN), told Asian Scientist Magazine that the development of the nuclear power plant is actually a political issue.

“Indonesia needs nuclear power supply in the upcoming decade. So the government should prepare its development, including infrastructure and public education. But I don’t know when it will be built. It is a political decision, and something beyond BATAN’s authority,” said Djarot.

Amid this political uncertainty, the Indonesian nuclear chief told Asian Scientist Magazine that aside from conducting research into nuclear energy and its safety, BATAN scientists also promoted the technology to the public.

Djarot explained that most Indonesians do not understand nuclear technology, and so the agency’s strategy is to promote, educate, and approach representative community groups.

And his strategy may have paid off. Shortly after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, support for nuclear energy dropped to a low of 49.5 percent, while a recent survey of 4,000 Indonesians showed that 52.93 percent were now in favor of nuclear technology.

“Now, about 52 percent of those who responded support the technology,” said Djarot.

Also ongoing at BATAN is the promotion of irradiation technology for the enhancement of food quality, said Djarot, as several varieties of irradiated-rice were found to produce more crops than untreated varieties. And the agency is eager to promote this technology, he said.

“The application of nuclear technology in health and agriculture is aimed at providing benefits to society. And the next aim is to show the benefits of nuclear energy. The community can get benefits but we must first minimize concerns over the dangers of radiation,” said Djarot.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: BATAN.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Dyna Rochmyaningsih is a freelance science journalist from Indonesia.

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