By June Ramlee
KUALA LUMPUR - The government has identified several sites, including one or two currently uninhabited islands, to locate Malaysia's nuclear power plant should the plan be given the go-ahead.
The sites are undergoing pre-feasibility studies to determine their suitability, said Malaysia Nuclear Agency director-general Datuk Dr Daud Mohamad.
He said the task to find a suitable location had been given to Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) while the agency was doing the study on the technical aspects, the ultimate aim of which is to turn the selected site into a nuclear power plant in 10 years' time.
"They (the sites) are all within the peninsula. We are also looking at some uninhabited islands," he said after presenting a paper at the 2010 Energy Forum here yesterday.
He said the government had set aside RM25 million (S$10.7 million) for the pre-feasibility studies, which also include a study tour by members of parliament to existing nuclear plants in Korea, Japan, China, France and the US.
"We haven't decided on where to go (for the study tour) but it will be done soon."
Daud said the locations for the nuclear plant must be in accordance with the criteria set by guidelines.
"The surrounding area has to have granite or hard rock."
"The soil cannot be soft and the water table cannot be low."
"It's good to have water, like a big lake, surrounding the plant so that it can be used for the cooling system."
"Although there is no definite decision to set up the nuclear plant, we have decided to identify the sites earlier to unable us to book the places in advance so that they are not taken up by another party for other types of development."
Daud said once the exact site was identified, the state government of the chosen site would be approached to develop the plant together.
"A definite decision on the nuclear plant will be made in 2012. Although that is two years from now, we have to carry out all the necessary preparations, which include a roadshow on educating the public at large and the policy makers, including those from the opposition parties, on the importance of having a nuclear plant."
On construction of the nuclear plant, Daud said the government would outsource the main components of the plant from a reputable country to gain the public's confidence.
"But just like the automotive industry, we want to develop our own nuclear industry and we will use as much local content as possible when we construct our first nuclear plant."
Daud said the current price to construct a nuclear plant from scratch was around RM12 billion.