Ririn Radiawati Kusuma
Jakarta. The National Nuclear Energy Agency on Thursday said it was looking for locations on Bangka Island to build two large nuclear power plants worth Rp 54 trillion ($6 billion).
Hudi Hastowo, the chief of the agency also known as Batan, said the agency had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bangka-Belitung provincial government on Tuesday regarding plans to build the nuclear plants on Bangka.
“We are doing the survey, but I have not yet received the results,” he said.
Herman Agustiawan, a member of the National Energy Council, said the government planned to build two nuclear plants on Bangka: A 10,000 megawatt plant in west Bangka and an 8,000 megawatt plant in south Bangka.
“The governor already agreed and there is no complaint from the public,” he said.
Herman said all the necessary legal paperwork had been completed to proceed — except for the permission of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
“As soon as the president says ‘go nuclear’ we will start to build it,” he said, adding that construction could begin as soon as 2011, and would take about 10 years.
Bangka was chosen partly because it is not located in the earthquake-prone region known as the Ring of Fire, Herman said.
Plans to build nuclear power plants on Bangka follow Batan’s defeated attempts to build a nuclear plant on the Muria Peninsula in Central Java.
In July, Hudi conceded that the government would be unlikely to meet its goal of building a nuclear power plant by 2016, due to strong opposition from residents of Jepara district on the Muria Peninsula, which forced Batan to abandon its plans there. He predicted then that it would take another two or three years to find a suitable location, given the need for painstaking studies.
The provincial administrations of Banten, Gorontalo, and West, South and East Kalimantan had also expressed an interest in hosting the nuclear plants after the Muria plant was abandoned.
Herman said the biggest remaining question was who would own and operate the plants. He said the government would form a team called the nuclear energy program implementation organization to decide whether the government or private sector would build and operate them.
Arif Fiyanto, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the group would fight plans to build nuclear plants on Bangka.
“It’s SBY’s commitment to not build nuclear power plants under his presidency,” he said, referring to the president by his initials.
Arif said that recently the government had been promoting nuclear power through television advertisements. “But they only mention the good side of it.”
The bad side, he said, was that its radiation and waste could harm those living nearby.