Nuclear power is cleaner
No, I haven't suddenly converted to the nuclear power generation cause. The above is a disingenuous headline in today's Jakarta Post above an article by Otto Soemarwoto, Professor Emeritus of the environment at Padjadjaran University, Bandung.
However, note carefully that there is only one statement in the article which backs up that headline.With respect to global warming as a result of the emission of CO2, nuclear power plants are cleaner than gas fired ones. Also on the basis of a life cycle analysis from the mining of uranium and its processing to become fuel and to the operation of the plants, CO2 emissions are lower from nuclear plants than from conventional ones.
(Prof. Otto does not define these although no-one can dispute that some, but not all, coal-fired power plants are amongst the most polluting contributors to global warming.)While critics agree
emissions are lower from nuclear plants) they also say that it is only correct when the uranium comes from high grade uranium ores of 1 percent or higher.Most known
(power plants) are of lower grades. When demand for nuclear fuel increases, lower grade ones will subsequently be mined - which inevitably will result in more CO2 emissions.Hence there is no assurance that nuclear plants will help in the fight against global warming.
Elsewhere in the Post there is an article with accompanying photo about the hundreds of protesters
(who) took to the streets of Kudus regency in Central Java yesterday to reject the central government's plan to build a nuclear power plant in neighbouring Jepara regency.
Because it was supported by Kudus regency administration officials, including the (elected) regent, the legislative council speaker, the local military leader and the police chief, this may have been one of the most significant demonstrations ever in Indonesia, certainly in the nearly ten years since the advent of reformasi
Kudus regent Muhammed Tamzil said that the plan was made without agreement from residents: "That's why I support the Kudus people's wishes
This brings us back to Prof. Otto whose article's central thesis is that the perceptions of the benefit/risk ratio of the nuclear power industry is subjective, although real and not abstract.
The management is not a matter of mathematics and technical issues, but of social attitudes. It lies within the domain of social psychology, which is unfamiliar ground for nuclear plant engineers.
And, I would contend, politicians and business managers.
The Post also reports today that the results of a psychiatric survey have revealed an increasing trend towards mental health problems among victims of the Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java.
Symptoms include sleeplessness, anxiety and sadness, leading to a deepening of the depression caused by the loss of personal effects. More than a year on, victims are still 'refugees' living in temporary accommodation, a market building, dependent on 'charity' whilst they await their mandated compensation from Lapindo Brantas, the company 50% owned by the family of Abdirizal Bakrie, the Minister of (His Family's) Welfare.In turn this leads to the lowering of the victims' quality of life which is partly apparent in decreases in their "fighting spirit".
And the blame lies with Lapindo Brantas and the government, with the Bakrie clan for their lack of social empathy and SBY for his vacillation. The social disaster in East Java can only be ameliorated with compassionate action and the application of social psychology as demonstrated by the Kudus administration.[Mea Culpa. A couple of weeks ago I stated that Medco Energi Internasional Tbk, Indonesia's largest private oil and gas company was a Bakrie company. This is wrong and I am now given to understand that Medco owns 30% of Lapindo Brantas.]
Labels: nuclear power, social psychology