The National Atomic Power Agency (Batan) says it would continue to search for suitable sites for a nuclear power plant and uranium sources despite growing objections by the public and NGOs.
Batan head Hudi Hastowo said Bangka Belitung was targeted as possible new site for a planned nuclear power plant and that the agency would start to survey the location this year.
The site was considered the most stable and ideal for its geological stability and its proximity to the country’s biggest electricity consuming regions: Sumatra and Java.
“Also, the locals are more receptive [to hosting a nuclear power plant] compared to other regions,” Hudi said in Bandung on Monday after meeting West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan to speak about uranium extraction in a mining site in eastern West Java.
He added that the search for sources of uranium would be expanded to Papua after a possible source in Melawai regency, West Kalimantan, was identified.
“Everyone says nuclear power plants are unsafe given the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster [in Japan], but we can give assurances safety will surely be improved in the wake of the incident,” he said.
Hudi added that although the search for new sites had not begun, Batan was still considering the previously studied locations of Mount Muria, Jepara, Central Java, and Serang, Banten, where locals were opposed to such plans.
“There is a possibility the people will come to see that nuclear power plants bring benefits because they are environmentally friendly in terms of carbon emissions,” he said.
Opposition to the establishment of nuclear power plants is supported by groups including Greenpeace Indonesia, especially in the wake of recent comments by Japanese Prime Minister Naoko Kan that Japan would not build new nuclear power plants.
Greenpeace said Indonesia was better off without nuclear power plants it said were dangerous, expensive and outdated.
The 2007 Nuclear Power Plant Law calls for Indonesia to have a nuclear power plant by 2016 to 2019, a target Hudi admits the country would miss.
However, he said, Batan would continue surveying potential sites, human resources and infrastructure, including preparing better technology to build a 1,000 megawatt plant.
The head of the Nuclear Energy Regulator Agency (Bapeten), Asmatio Lasman, said his agency had not received applications for a site license from Batan.
“We will proceed with a review to issue a license once we receive an application,” Asmatio said.
He added that there was no need to worry about the safety of a future nuclear power plants, claiming that Indonesia had world-class nuclear technology experts.
“We currently have eight nuclear surveyors assigned by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] as international inspectors in various countries implementing nuclear technology,” Asmatio said.
Of the eight, he added, one was assigned to Tokyo and seven were in Vienna. He said that some of them were also members of a fact-finding team at Fukushima.
“Bapeten officials are recognized internationally. They would know if something was wrong with the technology,” Asmatio said.
He added that tight surveillance standards would be imposed in the use of nuclear technology and “no technology would be hidden from the public”.