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Malaysian Coalition Against Nuclear Release: Nuclear Energy is Not an Option

Nuclear Energy is NOT an Option
Civil Society Groups’ Public Petition to Stop Nuclear Power Plants in Malaysia

Nuclear Energy is NOT an Option
Civil Society Groups’ Public Petition to Stop Nuclear Power Plants in Malaysia

A number of governments around the world have responded to calls from their citizens to end the nuclear age by phasing out nuclear power plants and reversing decisions to build new nuclear power plants

The recent catastrophic nuclear accident in Fukushima has brought Japan to its knees and persuaded many countries, including Germany, Italy and Switzerland, to phase out existing nuclear reactors at the end of their useful life. They have also cancelled plans for new reactors and instead are investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

However, the Malaysian government remains adamant to pursue the nuclear energy path, despite previous calls by concerned groups to scrap its plans. Disappointed with the Malaysian Government’s plans to develop nuclear energy despite the significant concerns that have been raised against the option, civil society groups have joined forces to embark on a public campaign to call on the Government of Malaysia to abandon its plans for the construction of nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power is inherently dangerous and not environmentally-friendly. The process of the nuclear fuel cycle itself – from uranium mining and extraction, fuelling uranium enrichment, nuclear power plant construction, maintenance and monitoring of the processing and storing of radioactive waste, decommissioning and cleaning up radioactive contamination – require an enormous supply of energy, much more than other energy sources.

According to international studies which take into account the nuclear fuel cycle, a nuclear power plant indirectly emits between 376,000 and 1,300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Nuclear power releases four to five times more carbon dioxide per unit of energy compared to renewable energy. Thus, the Malaysian government’s decision to opt for nuclear energy to achieve its declared goal of reducing carbon emissions intensity is one that is fundamentally flawed.

Furthermore, nuclear power plants produce ultra-hazardous, highly radioactive waste that will remain radioactive for more than a hundred thousand years. No country in the world has managed to safely dispose its nuclear waste permanently, as currently there is no such technology. At present, nuclear waste is temporarily stored in pools of water or in dry casks, alongside nuclear reactors.

The nuclear industry and proponents in the Malaysian government continue to spread disinformation about nuclear energy and are on a public relations exercise to persuade the public to accept nuclear energy, while failing to address the fundamental and yet unresolved issue of the handling of the nuclear waste, wastewater from the nuclear reactors, and other health and safety aspects.

The Malaysian government should seriously consider the health and safety risks of nuclear energy. Human error and unpredictable events are unavoidable, making nuclear reactor safety uncertain. The history of the nuclear industry is littered with minor and major accidents. Even without accidents, a nuclear power plant is dangerous to health.

In a 2007 meta-­analysis of 17 research papers, covering 136 nuclear sites in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, the United States of America, Germany, Japan and Spain, the incidence of leukaemia in children under nine who live close to the sites, showed an increase from 14% to 21%, while death rates rose from 5% to 24%.

Another scientific study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Care in 2008, revealed that leukaemia death rates in American children living near nuclear power plants have risen sharply in the past two decades.

Besides environmental, health and safety issues, developing nuclear energy also faces challenging economic hurdles considering nuclear energy’s high capital costs, construction cost, availability and prices of fuel, engineering expertise, radioactive waste management, security and accident liabilities, and decommissioning, among other issues.

To conclude, nuclear energy is clearly not cheap, clean or safe. The nuclear option should not be considered at all as a solution to Malaysia’s energy needs.

This public petition demands that the Government of Malaysia applies the Precautionary Principle enshrined in the 1992 Rio Declaration, abandon its plans to build nuclear power plants, and instead earnestly implement its energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes, which are safe, economical and sustainable.

Dr Ronald McCoy
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
On behalf of the Malaysian Coalition Against Nuclear (MyCAN)

The full petition can be accessed at:
The petition can be signed at:

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