Lets Talk Nuclear Energy / Bicara Tenaga Nuklear

Many of us are fearful when we hear about nuclear energy.

This is reasonable, following the devastation of the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1942, the nuclear power plant accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986, and the recent accident in Fukushima, Japan in 2011.

Yet there is an inevitable growing demand for radioactive and nuclear technology for the benefit of the economy – for industrial, agricultural, medical and research purposes. Following the terrorist attack in September 2001 in the U.S., nuclear security institutions around the world has since been strengthened, hence to date we have yet to see attacks involving nuclear or radiation facilities.

Nuclear application in Malaysia is regulated by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), a national nuclear regulatory authority under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

There are over 1600 licensed facilities in the country that utilise radioactive materials for quality assurance in oil and gas services, inspection of soil in civil construction, for education purposes at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and for research at the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, also under the purview of MOSTI.

Only one nuclear reactor has been set up in our country, albeit a relatively small one, at the Malaysian Nuclear Agency for research purposes.

I was invited to the International Conference on Nuclear Security early last month in December, organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA was established in 1957, in response to the fear of nuclear we all are too familiar about, towards the discoveries and many uses of nuclear technology.

Since then the IAEA has been an intergovernmental forum where 169 Member States convene regularly to discuss scientific and technical co-operation in nuclear for peaceful purposes. Malaysia is one of early participants, being a member state since 1969 as we acknowledge our international commitment and responsibility.

Back at the conference, I am extremely proud of our Malaysian team working at the IAEA.

The Nuclear Security Division is currently headed by YM Dato’ Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, former Director-General of AELB.

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Presented a token of appreciation to YM Dato’ Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan on the right, together with Mr. Hamrah Mohd Ali, Director-General of Atomic Energy Licensing Board Malaysia.

There are also eight other Malaysian professionals serving in this and other areas, such as in nuclear applications, safety and safeguards.

12 more local experts, from AELB, authorities and the National Security Council are on short assignments at the IAEA. Besides helping the IAEA to develop strategies for nuclear security, the Malaysian team has always done their best in securing the best deals for our country.

This year, we look forward to the signing of Practical Arrangements with the IAEA, effectively elevating our status from an assistance receiver to a partner. Malaysia would be a hub for training, where the trainers would be experts from only Malaysia, and a hub for the testing and maintenance of radiation detection equipment.

Malaysia has been implementing nuclear security in accordance with the Nuclear Security Plans set by the IAEA since 2005. Nuclear security is institutionalised through the national security agenda and we took a strategic move by starting out with capacity building.

We promoted nationwide programs to create and retain talents in the field of nuclear.

Our AELB developed a Nuclear Security Support Centre after a model by the IAEA, through which we coordinated national training programs and to expand our role in nuclear security in this region.

One of the initiatives by this Centre was to negotiate a dedicated training module on nuclear security during the recruitment exercise of the Royal Malaysian Customs and the Royal Malaysian Police.

Thinking ahead, Nuclear Security as an academic subject was introduced to UKM especially as part of their Nuclear Science program. Malaysia is then poised to handle nuclear security matters by ensuring a sustainable generation of experts in understanding nuclear security.

We also have been hosting international visits since 2012 to share best practices in coordinating nuclear security.

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With the Director of IAEA, Mr Yukiya Amano.

These countries include Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Egypt, Qatar, Sudan, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Albania, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Being well-known for our hospitality and generosity in sharing our expertise and experiences, we welcome more of such diplomatic visits to Malaysia.

To continue to have access to radioactive and nuclear materials as required by our industries and for medical purposes, Member States of the IAEA have to adhere to international nuclear regimes; one is to have sufficient infrastructure.

Mosti through the AELB invested some RM 15 million to strengthen our nuclear security by enhancing our nuclear and radiation detection architecture, and safeguarding our inventoried nuclear materials.

In 2005 Malaysia initiated efforts to protect the country’s land and air points of entry from any threat of illegal transport of nuclear and other radioactive materials by installing Radiation Portal Monitors.

Then, in 2009, we began to expand these monitoring facilities to our ports where enormous volumes of cargo enter the country, by collaborating with the United States Megaports Initiative, the European Union and of course, the IAEA.

Last November, Malaysia and Thailand made history as the first two countries to test the Joint Field Exercise draft module at the Bukit Kayu Hitam – Sadao border crossing, formulated by the IAEA.

Every day, this border sees movements of more than 1500 vehicles and 5000 people.

Authorities from both states made an effort to ensure that radiological or special nuclear material is not smuggled or transported illicitly across the border.

After a year of preparations, about a hundred custom officials, police officers and radiation detection experts from both countries came together to put their nuclear security systems to test. This exercise not only strengthened nuclear security capabilities of both Malaysia and Thailand, but also the nuclear security network and stability in the region. Therefore, this is also seen as a success story for South East Asia and the IAEA, when this exercise is documented and published on the IAEA website entitled, “Boosting Nuclear Security in South East Asia”.

We committed ourselves to a number of bilateral relationships including through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), to install infrastructure, exchange best practices and explore human resources development opportunities, with these countries but not limited to, the U.S., Korea, Indonesia and Australia.

Evidently all these efforts in nuclear security show that Malaysia pursue nuclear for peace, and not for destruction.

We ensure that we are in control of nuclear security, and pledged transparency and the promotion of peaceful nuclear applications.

Moving forward, Malaysia has been discussing the use of nuclear energy to generate power.

Nuclear power in Malaysia has been addressed since the 10th Malaysia Plan 2011 – 2015 to explore its opportunities to meet energy demand and to diversify energy mix especially in Peninsular Malaysia.

It is identified as one of the Entry Point Projects in the Economic Transformation Programme 2010 – 2020, under Oil, Gas and Energy sector. We are to build a nuclear power plant with the capacity to generate 1,000 megawatt by 2030.

Globally, we can look at several partnership and business cooperation models for technology transfer for nuclear, such as the collaboration between United Arab Emirates and South Korea, and Bangladesh’s turn-key project with Russia. Understandably Malaysians would be wary of the risks coming from the construction and operation of a power plant, due to the absence of local experience.

However the biggest challenge that has to be addressed could be public acceptance.

The 11th Malaysia Plan has called for a step-up in creating public awareness in nuclear energy.

Advanced countries such as Japan, France and South Korea have taken prudent approaches by incorporating the understanding of nuclear technology and its application in the national education curriculum.

Social media can also be an effective platform for authorized sources to provide accurate information.

Malaysia has to carefully deliberate its nuclear ambitions in view of the economic crisis and political instability around the world. Threats from shared borders and non-state actors such as terrorist groups are becoming bolder than ever in pursuit of their evil objectives.

For a start, I think Malaysia has done well in managing nuclear security, by closely cooperating with neighbouring and regional countries, and playing an active role in the IAEA. I urge everyone to be proactive in the engagements on nuclear energy, discussing and criticizing fairly, for public good.

Bicara Tenaga Nuklear

Ramai daripada kita akan berasa gerun apabila mendengar cerita tentang tenaga nuklear.

Hal ini ada asasnya berikutan kemusnahan yang berlaku apabila bom atom digugurkan di bandar Hiroshima dan Nagasaki di Jepun pada 1942, tragedi loji kuasa nuklear di Chernobyl, Ukraine pada 1986, dan yang terbaharu, kemalangan di Fukushima, Jepun pada 2011.

Sungguhpun begitu, permintaan terhadap teknologi nuklear dan radioaktif untuk manfaat ekonomi semakin meningkat – untuk tujuan perindustrian, pertanian, perubatan dan penyelidikan. Ekoran serangan pengganas pada 11 September 2001 di AS, institusi keselamatan nuklear di seluruh dunia mula diperketat, justeru setakat ini belum berlaku insiden serangan yang membabitkan loji nuklear dan sinaran.

Penggunaan nuklear di Malaysia ditadbir oleh Lembaga Perlesenan Tenaga Atom (AELB), iaitu sebuah badan kawal selia nuklear negara di bawah MOSTI.

Terdapat lebih 1,600 pemegang lesen di negara ini yang menggunakan bahan radioaktif untuk tujuan jaminan kualiti dalam perkhidmatan minyak dan gas, pemeriksaan tanah dalam pembinaan awam, pendidikan di Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) dan penyelidikan di Agensi Nuklear Malaysia, juga di bawah MOSTI.

Terdapat hanya sebuah reaktor nuklear yang kecil didirikan di negara kita, iaitu di Agensi Nuklear Malaysia untuk tujuan penyelidikan.

Pada awal Disember lalu, saya dijemput ke Persidangan Keselamatan Nuklear Antarabangsa anjuran Agensi Tenaga Atom Antarabangsa (IAEA). IAEA ditubuhkan pada 1957, sebagai respons terhadap kebimbangan ancaman nuklear yang kita semua maklum, untuk membuat penemuan dan mengkaji pelbagai kegunaan teknologi nuklear.

Sejak ditubuhkan, IAEA menjadi medan forum antara kerajaan. Sebanyak 169 negara anggota akan bertemu dari semasa ke semasa untuk membincangkan kerjasama saintifik dan teknikal dalam bidang nuklear untuk tujuan keamanan. Malaysia adalah antara peserta awal, iaitu sejak 1969 lagi atas kesedaran bahawa kita juga mempunyai komitmen dan tanggungjawab antarabangsa.

Kembali kepada persidangan tadi, saya berasa sungguh bangga dengan penglibatan pasukan kita dalam IAEA.

Bahagian Keselamatan Nuklear IAEA kini diterajui oleh YM Dato’ Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, mantan Ketua Pengarah AELB.

Terdapat lapan lagi rakyat Malaysia yang profesional yang berkhidmat dalam bahagian ini dan juga dalam bidang-bidang yang lain, seperti penggunaan, keselamatan dan perlindungan nuklear.

Seramai 12 lagi pakar tempatan, iaitu dari AELB, pihak berkuasa dan Majlis Keselamatan Negara sedang menjalankan tugas singkat di IAEA. Selain membantu IAEA membangunkan strategi untuk keselamatan nuklear, pasukan Malaysia ini juga sentiasa berusaha keras untuk mendapatkan hasil yang terbaik untuk negara.

Pada tahun ini, kita akan menandatangani Perjanjian Praktikal dengan IAEA. Perjanjian ini akan mengangkat kedudukan kita daripada penerima bantuan kepada rakan kongsi. Malaysia akan menjadi hab latihan. Jurulatihnya nanti akan terdiri daripada pakar dari Malaysia sahaja. Selain itu, Malaysia akan menjadi hab untuk menguji dan menyelenggara peralatan pengesan sinaran.

Dalam pelaksanaan keselamatan nuklear, Malaysia mematuhi Pelan Keselamatan Nuklear yang digubal oleh IAEA sejak 2005 lagi. Keselamatan nuklear diinstitusikan melalui agenda keselamatan negara dan kita mengambil langkah strategik, iaitu bermula dengan pembinaan keupayaan.

Kita mempromosikan program ke seluruh negara untuk melahirkan dan melestarikan bakat dalam bidang nuklear.

AELB membangunkan Pusat Sokongan Keselamatan Nuklear mengikut acuan IAEA. Melaluinya, kita akan menyelaraskan program latihan negara dan meluaskan peranan kita dalam bidang keselamatan nuklear di rantau ini.

Satu daripada inisiatif pusat ini adalah untuk merundingkan modul latihan khas tentang keselamatan nuklear semasa sesi pengambilan pegawai Kastam Diraja Malaysia dan Polis Diraja Malaysia.

Memandang ke hadapan, Keselamatan Nuklear sebagai mata pelajaran akademik diperkenalkan kepada UKM terutamanya sebagai sebahagian daripada program Sains Nuklear mereka. Dengan itu, Malaysia bersedia untuk menangani hal ehwal keselamatan nuklear apabila generasi pakar dalam bidang keselamatan nuklear dilestarikan.

Malaysia juga menerima kunjungan delegasi antarabangsa sejak 2012 untuk berkongsi pengetahuan kita tentang amalan terbaik dalam penyelarasan keselamatan nuklear.

Antaranya dari Pakistan, Arab Saudi, Mauritania, Mesir, Qatar, Sudan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Albania, Zimbabwe dan Zambia.

Kita, yang terkenal dengan keramahan dan kemurahan hati untuk berkongsi kepakaran dan pengalaman, mengalu-alukan lebih banyak kunjungan diplomatik seumpama ini ke Malaysia.

Untuk memastikan kelangsungan mendapat bahan radioaktif dan nuklear sebagaimana yang dikehendaki oleh industri kita dan atas tujuan perubatan, negara anggota IAEA perlu mematuhi peraturan nuklear antarabangsa; antaranya perlu mempunyai infrastruktur yang mencukupi.

MOSTI menerusi AELB melabur kira-kira RM15 juta untuk mengukuhkan aspek keselamatan nuklear kita dengan meningkatkan sistem pengesan nuklear dan sinaran, dan melindungi keselamatan inventori bahan nuklear kita.

Pada 2005, Malaysia memulakan usaha untuk melindungi pintu masuk darat dan udara daripada sebarang ancaman kemasukan bahan nuklear dan radioaktif secara haram dengan memasang Alat Pemantau Portal Sinaran.

Kemudian pada 2009, kita mula meluaskan penggunaan sistem pemantauan ini ke pelabuhan yang sememangnya menjadi pintu masuk kargo yang amat besar ke negara kita, dengan kerjasama United States Megaports Initiative, Kesatuan Eropah dan pastinya, IAEA.

Pada November lalu, Malaysia dan Thailand melakarkan sejarah sebagai dua negara pertama yang menguji modul draf Latihan Keselamatan Bersama di pintu masuk sempadan Bukit Kayu Hitam-Sadao, yang digubal oleh IAEA.

Pintu masuk sempadan ini menyaksikan aliran keluar masuk lebih 1,500 kenderaan dan 5,000 manusia setiap hari.

Pihak berkuasa kedua-dua negara berusaha untuk memastikan tiada bahan radiologi dan nuklear khas yang diseludup atau dibawa masuk melalui pintu sempadan ini.

Selepas melakukan persediaan selama setahun, kira-kira seratus orang pegawai kastam, pegawai polis dan pakar pengesan sinaran dari kedua-dua negara bertemu untuk menguji sistem keselamatan nuklear tersebut. Latihan ini bukan sahaja mengukuhkan keupayaan keselamatan nuklear Malaysia dan Thailand, malah rangkaian keselamatan nuklear dan kestabilan di rantau ini. Hal ini dilihat sebagai kejayaan bagi Asia Tenggara dan IAEA apabila latihan ini didokumenkan dan disiarkan dalam laman web IAEA dengan tajuk, “Boosting Nuclear Security in South East Asia.” (Meningkatkan Keselamatan Nuklear di Asia Tenggara).

Kita juga menjalinkan beberapa perhubungan bilateral, termasuk melalui Memorandum Persefahaman (MOU), untuk menyediakan infrastruktur, bertukar-tukar pengetahuan tentang amalan terbaik dan meneroka peluang pembangunan sumber manusia, bersama dengan negara seperti AS, Korea, Indonesia dan Australia. Diharap perhubungan seumpama ini juga dapat diperluas ke negara-negara lain pada masa depan.

Semua usaha dalam keselamatan nuklear ini menunjukkan bahawa Malaysia menggunakan nuklear untuk maksud keamanan, bukan pembinasaan.

Kita memastikan bahawa keselamatan nuklear dikawal, dan berikrar untuk menggalakkan penggunaan nuklear secara aman dan telus.

Sebagai langkah masa depan, Malaysia sudah mula membincangkan penggunaan tenaga nuklear untuk menjanakan kuasa.

Kuasa nuklear di Malaysia telah mula dibincangkan sejak Rancangan Malaysia Kesepuluh 2011–2015 untuk meninjau peluang bagi memenuhi permintaan tenaga dan untuk mempelbagaikan campuran tenaga, terutama sekali di Semenanjung Malaysia.

Kuasa ini dikenal pasti sebagai satu daripada Projek Titik Mula dalam Program Transformasi Ekonomi 2010–2020, di bawah sektor Minyak, Gas dan Tenaga. Kita berharap dapat membina sebuah loji kuasa nuklear dengan keupayaan untuk menjanakan 1,000 megawatt menjelang 2030.

Di dunia luar sana, kita boleh meninjau beberapa model perkongsian dan kerjasama perniagaan untuk pemindahan teknologi bagi nuklear, seperti usaha sama antara Emiriah Arab Bersatu dengan Korea Selatan, dan projek serah kunci antara Bangladesh dengan Rusia. Sudah tentulah rakyat Malaysia menaruh waspada terhadap risiko daripada pembinaan dan pengendalian loji kuasa disebabkan negara tiada pengalaman sebelum ini.

Bagaimanapun, kemungkinan cabaran terbesar yang perlu ditangani ialah penerimaan orang awam.

Rancangan Malaysia Kesebelas menyeru agar usaha ditingkatkan untuk membangkitkan kesedaran orang ramai tentang tenaga nuklear.

Negara maju, seperti Jepun, Perancis dan Korea Selatan, telah pun mengambil pendekatan berhemat dengan memasukkan pemahaman tentang teknologi nuklear dan penggunaannya dalam kurikulum pendidikan negara.

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