Thursday, August 9, 2007

Naval base proposed as site for nuclear plant

APINYA WIPATAYOTIN

The armed forces have offered a naval base in Chon Buri as a possible site for a nuclear power plant if other sites face opposition, a source said.

The military's proposal could help the project along, although the government has yet to finalise a decision on whether to build such a plant.

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont recently dusted off the plan, suspended for more than 20 years, citing the need for energy security.

The government considers Ranong, Chumphon and Surat Thani as the best sites, as they are close to the sea. The station needs water to cool its reactors.

The government has drawn up plans for a nuclear plant that could generate 4,000 megawatts by 2021.

The source said the naval base in Sattahip district fitted the conditions required for such a plant.

''Geographically, the Sattahip navy base is suitable as the water there is deep and it is remote from the local community,'' a source said.

Science and Technology Minister Yongyuth Yutthawong refused to react to the armed forces' offer, saying he had not been consulted.

''I can't say whether it is true or not. What I can say right now is that no decision has been made on the site. We need more time,'' he said.

He added that the ministry has been waiting for the government to approve a 10-million-baht budget to educate people about nuclear energy, and hold public hearings.

''We can't construct the plant without public support,'' he said.

Construction of the plant would take five years to complete and a decision on where to build it could be reached by October.

Korb Krittayakeeron, a former National Science and Technology Development Agency official, is chairman of a committee on the feasibility of the plant, with six sub-committees also looking at the issue.

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