Indonesia and nuclear power
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Indonesia and nuclear power

Can a notoriously unstable geography support atomic power plants, or does the country go dark, asks Asia Sentinel’s Terry Lacey
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/> Indonesia, which according to a United Nations agency is home to most of of the world’s earthquakes and at least 155 centers of volcanic activity, wants to get into the nuclear power game. An official announced quietly in Jakarta at a recent meeting of the country’s Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency that the government intends to build its way into energy independence through nuclear energy.
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/> The Nuclear Energy Regulatory and National Atomic Energy Agencies, which between them are responsible for the country’s nuclear activity, are training staff. Indonesia already reportedly has more than 100 trained nuclear technologists and three working research reactors. Indonesian State Research and Technology Minister Suharna Surapranata, in the new cabinet for less than two months, announced that he expects the agency to run the initial nuclear plant “when it opens in 2016″although some industry analysts say this will take longer than he thinks, maybe until 2020, or later.
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/> Indonesia has historically run into problems when the question of nuclear power comes up, often over concerns about its unstable geography. In 2007, nearly 4,000 protesters gathered in Muria in Central Java to call on the government to abandon plans to build a nuclear plant. Indonesia lies athwart the so-called Ring of Fire, the unstable meeting of the Indo-Australian, Indo-Chinese, Pacific and Philippine tectonic plates.
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/> It is estimated by the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs that 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur in the 7,000 islands that make up the country. In September, more than 1,100 people died in a 7.6 magnitude temblor that hit West Sumatra. Another 81 were killed in an earlier one that hit West Java. An estimated 350,000 buildings collapsed in Yogyakarta, 45,000 in West Java and more than 135,000 in Western Sumatra as a result of the quakes. Thus, national opposition has to be overcome locally at the first Muria site in Java and in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations itself.

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