Thu, 04 Aug 1994

Govt plans public hearing on nuclear power plant: BATAN

JAKARTA (JP): In an attempt to win the public over to its nuclear power program, the government plans to give the public the opportunity to scrutinize the project at a hearing.

"The hearing may be held sometime in 1996 during the last phase of the preliminary studies for the nuclear plant," Djali Ahimsa, Director General of the National Atomic Agency (BATAN) said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after attending a lecture on nuclear safety by Ivan Selin of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Djali said the hearing would serve as a forum where the public would be given the chance to learn about the nuclear plants and air their views regarding the program.

Djali said the government never intended to lead the public to blindly accept the plan by delaying the hearing until such a late date.

"During the hearing we want to tell the people that nuclear power is a clean technology and it is for our future," he said.

He said discussions about the nuclear program would be organized by the government and House of Representatives (DPR).

The government and the House would first study the process and organization of the hearing from other countries, especially the United States.

Djali said Batan had approached a number of non-governmental organizations (NGO) critical of the program, to explain the nuclear plants to them.

"Some of the NGOs do not want to listen, but we always listen to their opinions," he said, adding that a public hearing is unprecedented in Indonesia.

Djali said the government envisages that two power reactors would start operation in the next 10 years.

The government has announced a plan to build 12 nuclear power plants on Java in the next 25 years at the rate of one every two years, with capacities varying between 600 and 1,000 megawatts, to help the country cope with the rapid increase in demand for electricity.

A feasibility study regarding the plants has been completed by NewJec, a subsidiary of the Japanese Kansai electricity company, which has political power in Japan. The consultants were paid 1.5 billion yen (Rp 2.9 trillion) to carry out the study.

Djali said that the government has not made a decision on which nuclear technology it would use.


It has been reported that Westinghouse of the United States and Mitsubishi of Japan are two of the leading contenders to win the project to build Indonesia's first nuclear power plant.

Selin said that public hearings played an important role in the decision to build nuclear plants in the United States.

During the hearings, NRC held discussions with the Congressional members and non-governmental organizations.

The decision on whether to develop nuclear energy belongs to Indonesia alone, he said, stressing that his commission has no interests in the construction of the nuclear plants here.

"It is a decision that will have a profound effect on Indonesia's future. As demonstrated in the U.S., Japan, Western Europe and elsewhere, it is possible to develop nuclear power safely if one gives safety the priority it deserves," he said.

He stated that among the elements especially important in establishing and maintaining adequate nuclear safety were a firm legal foundation for a strong and independent regulatory authority to monitor and enforce the high levels of safety and the application of rigorous nuclear standards which cover all aspects of the nuclear fuel system.

Selin said Indonesia was on the edge of nuclear power and had made tremendous progress in building the infrastructure essential for the safe successful development of nuclear power.

NRC has trained a core group of nuclear safety personnel and are now hosting four BATAN staff members who are learning the philosophy and basic regulations in the U.S, he added. (par)