KUALA LUMPUR: The government has no plans to pursue nuclear power to generate electricity in Malaysia due to the risk associated with it, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday (Sep 18).
Speaking at the Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry, he said that although the cost of energy production through nuclear power is much cheaper, there is still a lack of knowledge in handling it, especially on the safe disposal of nuclear waste.
"I am against nuclear power because we have had a very bad experience with materials producing radiation in the country," he said.
Previous catastrophic accidents caused by the meltdown of nuclear power plants such as those in Japan and Ukraine serve as an example of the risks associated with nuclear power generation, said Dr Mahathir.
He cited the catastrophic Chernobyl disaster in 1986, which is considered the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history, both in terms of cost and casualties.
He said that during his tenure as the country's fourth prime minister, the country had to deal with an issue with tin tailing, a radiation-producing substance originally used in the production of colour television.
As a resolution, the substance was buried in an area covering 1 sq km, resulting in a loss of space for future development.
"What we learned from that is the waste from radiated material is not easy to dispose of," he said.
The same principle will be applied to the nuclear power plant when it comes to a waste disposal stage, he added.
"Although science has made tremendous advances in the field of electricity, it has not been able to deal with the waste material after it ceases to be a source of power.
"It may be cheap to generate power from nuclear material, but we are not going to do that simply because we are not sure we can get rid of the waste," he said.
"I still believe that we don't know enough about nuclear material to make use of it whether in peace or in war," he added.
Dr Mahathir said the country will continue to use fossil materials such as fuel and coal as well as hydro to generate electricity.
"We have a lot of coal in Malaysia but so far we have not fully utilised it," he said, adding that the potential areas for this include Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak.
"We feel that we are going to supply enough electricity to this country for a long time," he said.