KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will not use nuclear power plants to generate energy, as science has yet to find ways to manage nuclear waste and the effects of radiation, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The prime minister said there have been numerous incidents related to nuclear use worldwide, such as in Chernobyl, Ukraine and the latest being Fukushima, Japan which led to people suffering from radiation.
Malaysia, he said, will continue to rely on existing fuel sources to generate electricity, such as fossil fuel, coal, hydroelectric dams and wind power, which he said is stable and environmentally-friendly.
“There are two things I am against. Smokers are not allowed to come near me and nuclear is not the solution to generating electricity," he said in his keynote address at the launch of the Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry (CEPSI) 2018 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here on Tuesday.
Also present was Minister of Energy, Technology, Science and Environment, Yeo Bee Yin, and Tenaga Nasional Bhd chairman Tan Sri Leo Moggie.
Dr Mahathir said the country’s fifth and sixth prime ministers may have agreed to nuclear energy but “now I am back.”
He said despite advancements in science, a solution to nuclear radiation and waste has yet to be discovered. He said it is based on these factors that Malaysia is rejecting the use of nuclear energy, despite it being cheaper than fossil fuel.
Malaysia, he said, had a “bad experience” with amang, a type of irradiated ore once used to make colour televisions.
“Amang needs to be activated before being used. This however led to problems in the form of residue, which is radioactive.
“The radiation effects triggered fear among the community, we don’t want a repeat of this.
"Eventually, we agreed to bury this substance in an area which was one square kilometre large. We had to bury it under thick cement to prevent the radiation from affecting people," said Dr Mahathir.
The prime minister said Malaysia lost one square kilometre of land as the area was still not safe, which also led to losses in terms of areas meant for development.
Dr Mahathir also touched on developments in the transportation sector, and said the price of electric cars could be double that of conventional vehicles.
Among the issues in the electric car market, he said, was the durability of the batteries which as of now, can only power the vehicle for a maximum of 200 km on a full charge.
“We could perhaps merge ICE (internal combustion engine) and an electric-based engine to tackle the battery durability issue.
“These are all in the research and development phase, so I hope that it will be successful thus helping Malaysia enter a new automotive industry era,” he said.