Thailand Not Develop Nuclear Energy Topics: -Thai Essay

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Thailand NOT develop nuclear energy topics: -Thai Govt Plans build nuclear power stations -potential problems nuclear waste -expense problems -terrorism/proliferation problems -political instability problems -safety pollution problems -alternatives nuclear energy Thailand -dependency uranium supplies website starters: sabaibooks.

The developing nature of the economy today has determined an increase in the energy consumption worldwide, especially given the rising of a new economic world power, China that has at this point surpassed Japan as the second most important economy of the world. These achievements however come at a rather expensive price, taking into account the fact that there are numerous concerns for the energy supplies in the future.

From this point-of-view, numerous countries have tried to redevelop their energy strategies in terms of efficiency and at the same time sustainable power supplies. Thailand is among these countries, including Vietnam and Indonesia, with a clear aim of developing alternative power resources (The Nation, 2010). At the moment, given the great importance of energy supplies, there is a wide debate on whether Thailand should go forward with the plan of developing a new source of energy based on nuclear power.

The present paper argues that Thailand should not chose nuclear power as a source for energy for future development and as a means of reducing the dependency on traditional sources of energy from several points-of-view. These include the potential problems the Thai government may have with nuclear waste, terrorism related threats, pollution, among others. The paper addresses these aspects as well as others in order to support the idea that nuclear energy would not represent a positive development for Thailand.

Thailand is facing a serious concern in terms of energy resources. According to the 2007 Power Development Plan, Thailand's main energy supply is natural gas, in a proportion of 66%, as opposed to renewable resources that are used in a 1.7% proportion (Chonglertvanichkul, 2007). This is worrisome for the government largely because of the debate on the eventual reduction up to extension of natural gas reserves. Furthermore, according to statistics, despite the economic slowdown, the general GDP is forecasted to have a positive evolution in the next five years of approximately 5.6%, 0.6% higher than in the time frame of 2007-2011 (Chonglertvanichkul, 2007). Furthermore, the same study suggests that Thailand may be forced to increase its import of fuel in order to support a decent development trend. Under these conditions that eventually assume an increase in the economic productivity, the need for alternative power solutions is justified. Even so, there are risks that have to be taken into account that may determine a lack of support for nuclear alternative solutions.

The new Power Development Plan adopted in 2010 suggests a clear improvement in terms of energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse emissions should the nuclear power plants be enacted. More precisely, "under the revised Power Development Plan (PDP) 2010-2030, 40 per cent of the power will be generated from natural gas, 20 per cent will be bought from neighboring countries, 5 per cent will be renewable energy and 10 per cent will be nuclear power. The remaining 25 per cent will come from coal and other sources. According, greenhouse gas emissions will drop from 0.546 kilogram per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 0.38-0.42KWh" (The Nation, 2010).

One of the most important elements of controversy in terms of nuclear power energy in Thailand is the disposal of nuclear waste issue. In this sense, the IAEA considered that in 2008 Thailand had no nuclear disposal facilities (IAEA, 2011). This is an important factor because it points out the limited capabilities of Thailand to process the nuclear waste.

In clear relation with this aspect are the health risks that the communities the plants are built in as well as the people working in those plants have to assume. Nuclear energy is not only dangerous for the environment but also for the human being. In this sense one of the most atrocious events that took place was the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 which took the lives of numerous people and affected generations to come in the area. Also, the famous Hiroshima and Nagasaki disasters pointed out the catastrophes nuclear related weapons or energy can provoke. In the case of Thailand a lot of statements have been made to assure the population that all necessary safety aspects are taken into account in order to ensure a safe and healthy working environment in the future nuclear plants.
However, Thailand has little if any experience with dealing with hazardous waste and with a nuclear related catastrophe. As a proof, the 2000 catastrophe in Samut Prakan that included radioactive waste leaks, represented the first nuclear related situation Thailand was faced with. In the event of 2000, the people in the community were exposed. More precisely, "after their radiation exposure, the five victims developed nausea, lack of appetite and falling hair. They would later experience burns, gum bleeding, blisters, and swollen lymphatic glands. The five victims had shown a drastic drop in white blood cells from 8000 per one millilitre to only 100, indicating the collapse of their bodies' immune system" (Probe International, 2000). Therefore, regardless of the improvement of the technology since the 2000 accident, the use of nuclear power is not safe for the handlers or the community where the plant is built especially given the 500 meters radiation area. This is important because it points out the clear need for the preoccupation of the state for the health and well being of the population.

In strict connection with this argument lies the one related to the need for a specialized and well-trained team of experts to operate in the plants. In this area of expertise there is little room for mistakes or shortcomings as these may cost lives and damage the environment. However, at this moment, the general opinion on the matter is that there are no sufficiently well prepared specialists to take such an important job. More precisely, as in Vietnam, "Southeast Asia's first nuclear power plants, planned in Vietnam and Thailand by 2020, may be delayed by at least eight years because of a shortage of skilled workers and cheaper coal production, according to Wood Mackenzie Ltd." (Bloomberg, 2010). Therefore, should the actual need for nuclear power be imminent, there must be time however to allow trained personnel to provide services in such a manner as to ensure the proper management of the nuclear plants.

Another important aspect to consider is the actual costs of the project. Thailand foresees the construction of the first nuclear power plant at an estimated cost of $6 billion, which, the government points out, will be raised by issuing bonds and seek offshore loans (Channel News Asia, 2007). Furthermore, the costs at this moment are estimated to increase, as the project develops to reach even nine or ten bullion dollars. At the same time though, the total quantity of power from the nuclear plant would not exceed 20% that is less than Thailand imports. Therefore, the costs are at this point immense for managing a problem that is increasing. A small portion will reduce the import of energy whereas the money invested may become important debts for the Thai government. There are voices from Greenpeace that argue that the same money may be used to research alternative means for obtaining energy rather than constructing nuclear facilities (Channel News Asia, 2007). Even more, given the fact that Thailand does not posses uranium reserves, it would probably import from Australia that has already shown its interest to supply Thailand with uranium for its future nuclear facilities (Corben, 2008)

In terms of efficiency of the nuclear possibilities and the way in which this may be the solution for energy dependency, there are voices, especially from the Greenpeace groups that suggest nuclear power lacks the efficiency and guarantee over the possibility to reduce dependency on the traditional power resources. In this sense, a spokesperson for Greenpeace argued, "Much of the optimism displayed by the nuclear lobby is more rhetoric than reality, nuclear power has been proven to be an economic and environmental disaster around the world. The new government should not waste 1.38 billion baht to find out what is already known and instead reinvest the money to other more promising and rapid responses to climate change and energy security." (Greenpeace, 2008) This is an important factor because it may prove at the end that the efficiency of a nuclear plan be more limited than first assumed. At the moment, throughout the developed world that includes the European Union, there is a decrease in nuclear power plants largely because the issue of waste management and costs represents a problem as well as the actual efficiency of the plants. At the same time, this focus on nuclear energy is determining a lack of orientation towards other sources of.....

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