The Nation

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Thailand to review nuclear power plan : minister

The study on building nuclear power plants will be thoroughly reviewed amid the unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan which will be a study case for Thailand, Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul on Thursday said Thursday.

His statement came as Japan faced nuclear crisis at the Fukushma nuclear power plant after the country after being hit by huge earthquake and tsunami last week.

He said the study as well as the country's 20-year Power Development Plan (PDP 2010) will be carefully reviewed,

Initially, five 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plants are to be be built on 2020, but if the plan is disrupted, it must be replaced with another form of alternative energy. In this case 13 coal-fired power plants and one natural gas plant will be built, according to the minister.

Wannarat said that local residents in upcountry Thailand also oppose the planned coal-fired plants, a move which he described as leaving the country with no other choices.

"Cancellation of the nuclear power plant construction is not a problem as we have not yet reached the decision-making process whether to build it or not," said Dr Wannarat. "Thailand is like many other countries that [now] must consider Japan's radiation leaks as a case study."

Permanent Secretary for Energy Norkhun Sitthipong said on Thursday that Thailand is awaiting a letter from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certifying its preparation on feasibility study of Thailand's nuclear power plant construction in line with 19-item requirement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) .

Norkhun said the letter is expected to arrive at the ministry March 31 but this may be delayed due to the radiation crisis in Japan.

In earlier discussions with the IAEA, Norkhun said, the agency concluded that Thailand was not yet ready for nuclear plants, citing concerns over legal issues, public understanding and acceptance, as well as the competency and level of development of human resources in this field.

The permanent secretary said that Thailand's national power plan 2010 will be reviewed soon to study other alternative energy such as purchasing electric power from Small Power Producers (SPP) and using more natural gas.


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