Local groups battle nuke reactor plan

Local groups battle nuke reactor plan

A civic group in the Central Plains province of Nakhon Nayok has ramped up its opposition to a project by the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology to build a 20-megawatt nuclear reactor site in Ongkharak district.

The institute will organise a third public hearing for the proposal tomorrow online. The project has been delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Members of the Nakhon Nayok Citizen Association have been trying to get it axed since 2019, after the first public hearing in 2018.

The recently announced news of the third hearing has stoked concern among villagers who claim they were not granted enough time to absorb all the relevant information and attend the hearing.

Some told reporters their queries about what impact the nuclear reactor would have on the local environment remain unanswered, leading to a lack of confidence in the project.

Furthermore, they said the construction site contradicted a key principle of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as most parts of the province are used for agriculture and are home to crowded communities.

So any radioactive leak would have a dramatically negative effect on the province's economy, they said.

The chair of the Pak Phli Raptor Conservation Club, a bird-watching group, also expressed concern about the project, saying if it is given the green light in the upcoming hearing it could harm anywhere within a 30-kilometre radius of the reactor site.

This threatens a migration destination for black-eared kites who flock there during the cold season, he said.

Thailand has only ever had one research reactor -- a small 2-megawatt one at the Office of Atoms for Peace on Vibhavadi Road, adjacent to Kasetsart University, built in 1962.

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