5 Jul 2011, 4.24PM
Speaking at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in Vienna, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli noted that lessons must be drawn from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, and that safety should be a key consideration with the building of nuclear power plants based on zero tolerance for accidents
Following Mr Masagos’ comments, contributors express concerns over the use of nuclear energy. Some note that the building of nuclear power plants based on zero tolerance for accidents is impossible in practice. They highlight that past accidents like the Nicoll Highway collapse and breakdown of the Singapore Flyer had resulted from failure in observing safety guidelines, an indication that Singapore is not ready for nuclear power.
Contributors also express concern over the impact of nuclear accidents that would result in death and other long-term consequences like widespread cancer, mutation of genes and miscarriages. A couple of contributors also question whether Singapore has sufficient space for a nuclear plant, noting that there must be sufficient distance separating the plant from citizens, for safety.
While some contributors call for continued research to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of alternative energy sources like solar energy, one contributor highlighted that alternative fuel sources do not have the capacity to generate baseload electricity. He adds that having LNG terminals and other chemical plants in Singapore is just as dangerous, and that Singapore could still be exposed to nuclear energy if neighbouring countries went ahead with their plans to build nuclear power plants. Another contributor suggests collaborating with foreign universities to offer courses in nuclear physics and technology, and working closely with countries like the US, China and Japan, who are pioneers in this area.
Selected Contributors’ Quotes:
“Singapore’s workforce and population are not ready…Japan has thrived on excellence for years and still had a major accident…Even shipyards can have explosions and accidents despite all the safety training and regulations.” – Dreamknight via discussion forum
“Even if we consider the nuclear option, do we have the space for a nuclear plant? There must be some kind of minimum distance of safety separating the population and the plant…” – Guest via discussion forum
“The continued use of fossil fuel has resulted in climate change, which will kill more people than nuclear power ever will. Alternative fuel sources do not have the capacity to generate baseload electricity. Unfortunately, public opinion has been influenced by subjective opinion...” – Neutral Party via discussion forum
“MOE can consider working with NUS and NTU in partnership with foreign universities to offer courses on nuclear physics and technology. If we were to go nuclear in future, preparation must start now. We need to start training the engineers to do the job. We also need to seek technical cooperation with countries that have pioneered the technology such as US, China, Russia, Japan and the EU.” – Melvin Emmanuel Chan via Facebook