Blueprint for Nuclear Power Plant in Malaysia Long Ready: UKM Nuclear Scientist

Posted on September 9, 2010. Filed under: Energy |

-UKM news portal- By Kuah Guan Oo

BANGI, 9 September 2010 – The blueprint for a Nuclear Power Plant  (NPP) for electricity in the country has long been ready, waiting for the Government’s nod to swing into operation, says a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) nuclear scientist.
Prof Emeritus Dato’ Dr Noramly Muslim, who unveiled the plan at a conference here early August, said Malaysia would not be starting from scratch if the Government were to give the green light to build a NPP to supplement the current supply of electricity to power up the national economy.
The plan focuses on the Human Resource Requirement from pre-project planning stage to commencement of construction works and commissioning of the NPP, normally spanning over a period of 14 years.
But, said Prof Noramly, Malaysia would not be starting from zero base as they had been preparing for D-day for some 20 years.
“We might take 10 years or so to have the plant up and running,” he said, adding that there would not be any technology transfer and the Malaysian personnel were not going to learn if the vendors were allowed to build the plant as a turnkey project.
At the height of the construction work as outlined in the plan, they would require 5,000 to 6,000 professionals, technicians, craftsmen and general workers to build the NPP.
Then, they would require 700 to 800 professionals, technicians, craftsmen and security personnel to man the NPP when the plant starts producing electricity.


Brain Drain

Prof Noramly, who had said that the country already has a core, albeit, senior group of nuclear scientists and engineers to take the lead to build the NPP, warned that Malaysia would be in danger of losing her nuclear specialists through compulsory retirements and possibly a “brain drain” to other countries.
To date, more than 60 nations, including Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of their intention to build their own NPP and Malaysia would have to wait in the queue if she were to inform the Agency of her interest to build a NPP.
“Even if we were to order our nuclear reactors from the vendors now, we still have to queue up with the others, and it’s going to be a longer queue if we delay much further “ said Prof Noramly who had served as a Deputy Director-General and Head of Technical Cooperation Department of the IAEA from 1986 to 1992.
He said even Vietnam had signed for two NPPs with Russia, while South Korea have 20 working NPPs with 8 units under construction and 10 units under planning.
The South Koreans who had started their NPP programme a few years earlier when Malaysia was planning for it, had recently inked a deal to build a US$40 billion NPP programme for the United Arabs Emirate (UAE).
With all these programmes to build their own NPPs, he said he would not be surprised if these countries especially from the Middle East were to source for their skilled manpower need from Malaysia.
“They are capable, you know, of flying their Airbus or Boeing707 to Malaysia to take away our nuclear scientists and technicians to overcome their shortage of competent human resource. They have already attracted many senior Malaysian engineers to their oil industry,” he said.
Noting that all the legal and institutional frameworks had long been readied for the country’s first NPP, he said the Malaysian institutes of higher learning had been offering courses for nuclear human resource development.
While UKM has a Nuclear Science Faculty and Faculty of Law, Universiti Tenaga Malaysia (UniTen) is offering an introductory course to Nuclear Engineering in their undergraduate courses.
Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) is actively participating in nuclear researches, while the International Islamic University (IIU) and the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) are planning to introduce their own Undergraduate Nuclear Engineering programmes.


Nuclear Waste

Prof Noramly had repeatedly emphasized that the NPP of today are safe given the tremendous advances in reactor designs and incorporation of safety features. Under the current situation spent fuels were usually kept in a pool within the perimeter of the nuclear plant.
While the spent fuels were not simply stored away because they are too expensive to do so, he said the present technology to re-process the waste was too expensive and only a few countries were capable of doing it. New types of reactors are being developed whereby spent fuels can be recycled as fuels for the next generation of reactors and thus they can be considered as “assets” and rather than as “wastes”.
He had attended discussions in the latest developments in the managements of spent fuels and high level wastes in Vienna at the end of Aug.

IAEA

The purchase of nuclear fuel and reactors is always on a Government-to-Government basis and the transaction must comply with all the international norms and standards stipulated by the IAEA.
Prof Noramly said the IAEA would oversee the compliance, safety and security of the NPP when a country opted to build it. The Agency would also see that the country concerned put in place all the safeguards, safety and security requirements and to adhere to the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) thus ensuring the non-proliferation in the production of weapons of mass destruction.
The agency would also see that the country concerned has enough competent and trained personnel and had undertaken all measures to ensure the safety of the reactors, the staff and the environment.
“There are national and international responsibilities and commitments that require specialised training in areas of nuclear safety, safeguards, security, legislative framework and the environment,” if Malaysia were to decide to go for the NPP, he said.
And for technology transfer and knowledge management to be effective, there must be an adequate number of trained people to whom the technology and experience would be transferred, he said, pointing to the “formula of 1/3 rule and enabling environment” for effective results. – UKM News Portal
“The IAEA works for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. Its key roles contribute to international peace and security, and to the World’s Millennium Goals for social, economic and environmental development.” — IAEA –

Prof Dr Noramly Muslim can be contacted at:

noramly@ukm.my

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mobile: 019 3194 741

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