Thailand Report : NNAF 2010

                    Alternative Energy Project for Sustainability (AEPS)

Since the early 70s Thai government has been urging nuclear power as an energy source in Thailand. Whenever, the government stated about such policy, there would be an immediate resistance from the Thai public. Presently, Thailand has a nuclear research reactor (2 MW) in Bangkok. This reactor was a gift from the US government presented to Thailand in 1962 under The US’s "Atoms for Peace" program.

In 1993, the government approved to build a 10 MW research reactor under the new nuclear research center project in Ongkharak district, 60 km. northeast of Bangkok. But the project was opposed by the local communities during 1998-2002, and along with corruption problem, the project was suspended in 2003.

Nevertheless things have changed.

Go Nuclear with 5,000 MW capacity by 2030

Under the coup d´etat government in 2007 the 15-year Power Development Plan (PDP) was approved (commonly known as PDP 2007). It was a clear sign from policy level to start commercial operations of nuclear power stations to produce electricity at the capacity of 2,000 MW in 2020 and another 2,000 MW in 2021. At the same time a special government agency, ‘Nuclear Power Development Program Office’ (NPDO) was commissioned to take charge in preparation for nuclear power development. This launch included a budget for the preparation amounting 1.8 billion baht (around 55,814,000 USD) for creating public acceptance, law support, workforce, an agency for nuclear safety etc. The timeline for preparation for nuclear development in Thailand is as follows:

Phase 1 Year 2008 -2010 Public Acceptance
Phase 2 Year 2011 -2013 Project Preparation
Phase 3 Year 2014 -2019 Project Construction
Phase 4 Year 2020 -2021 Project Operation

The PDP 2007 has been severely criticized for its over-investment and marginalization of renewable energy despite the great potential in Thailand. Not until 2010 was the plan revised in March. PDP 2010, the revised version, however, yielded greater anxiety as the plan was exapned to 20 years (2010 ? 2030). The nuclear capacity would be maximxized up to 5,000 MW by 2030 to reduce the reliance on gas and increase country energy security.

Nuclear Development in PDP 2010
Capacity (MWe) Year
NPP 1 1,000 2020
NPP 2 1,000 2021
NPP 3 1,000 2024
NPP 4 1,000 2025
NPP 5 1,000 2028

The great concerns are the humungus budget has been spent on government propaganda: nuclear power is cheap, clean, no emission, renewable and sustainable. In October 2009 EGAT claimed that it completed a public survey with the result stating that 64% of Thai population support for nuclear power plant development. But 59& out of that 64% doesnot agree to have nuclear power plants in their livelyhoods.

In October 2008 EGAT hired an American consultant company, Burns And Roe Asia Co. to conduct feasibility study of the site of the power plants in 14 selectd provinces of Thailand. The company has controversial history with the Batan nuclear power plant in Philipines. According to the contract between Thai government and Burns & Roe the study was dued in May 2010. Yet until now there has been no any public announcement of the study results for fear that the local residents will rise and protest.

Ongkharak research reactor resurrection

The new Ongkharak research reactor project is to construct a new research reactor with increased capacity from 2 MW to 10 MW with the the U.S company, General Atomics (GA) starting as constructor in 1997. The strong protests from local communities delayed the project until the contract terminated in 2003. Despite no progress of the project, no construction was made, Thai government already paid GA more a billion Baht under turn-key contract. The government now seeks advice from the office of the Attorney General on how to proceed.

In the midst of unsolved issues of delays and corruptions, the Ministry of Science attempts to relaunch the Ongkharak reasearch reactor. The project now seeks approval from the government to open bidding of the new construction. The ministry claims the need for having research reactor for medical, agricultural and indutrial radioisotopes. The true objectives of the project is in fact it is part of nuclear workforce development. Consequently, the 10 MW research reactor will be increased up to 30 MW in the future.

AEPS has advocated against corruptions and irregularities of the projects. Yet there is the existing issues of radioisotope applications. Currenetly advanced technology has equipted human beings with alternatives to medical, agricultural and industrial use of radioisotopes. Unfortunately Thai society is short of such knowledge. We wish that updated information from other countries with long history of anti-nuclear advocacy would assist our strategy.

Anti-nuclear movement in Thailand

We approached the local communities that were subjected to locate the first nuclear power plant. With help from other international and Thai firends we educated them about the nuclear power plants: what they are, how they work, how they failed in the past, their past accidents, global trends. After that the local resistance was so strong that they probitted EGAT authorities and surveyers from entering thier community. The representatives of the Ministry of Science admitted to a press conference that they selected out some provinces because of a series of serious protests. Yet we have found that there are new potential sites for the project in which local community have not yet been informed about the secret survey.

In the last two years we have collaborated with a small group of Senators and avan-garde intellectuals to create a public venue for information disclosure and debunk the government propaganda. The movemnet must be unwavering and in accordance with strengthening local community.

Thai government always takes Japan and Korea to promote nuclear to Thai people. 2 days ago, the energy commission of Thai Senate held a conference to promote nuclear power. They invited Mr. Chung Hae-moon, the Korean ambassador to Thailand to join the conference. He said that Korea used nuclear power 35% of total electricity and Korean industry sector was very happy because nuclear power was bringing them very cheap electricity price. He also said that Korea was glad to help Thailand in terms of technology transfer.

We hope that having NNAF 2011 in Thailand would help foster anti-nuclear movement in Thailand.
The Thai government will choose 3 sites among 17 studies sites.
We will visit one of those sites to talk to local community and take some no nuke action there.
We would like to invite some leaders of anti-nuclear group from Asia to visit our local communities. We believe that your experiences will be useful for us.