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lynk2510
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Join date : 2011-01-31

PostSubject: he events in Japan have p   Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:11 am

atta has weighed in as well, telling ‘The Jakarta Post’ that "there is no need to hurry to build a nuclear power plant except if we start running out of energy resources." Philippines President Benigno Aquino has been the most unequivocal - rejecting the need for nuclear energy in his country in the wake of the crisis unfolding in Japan. Aquino wants a greater push towards non-nuclear energy sources, according to the Philippines media. Filipinos like Lotong Velasco are among a growing chorus of anti-nuclear activists in Southeast Asia who are using the crisis in Japan to raise their voices against the region’s race for nuclear power. "The Bataan power plant is a structure full of defects and we do not want it to begin operations," Velasco told IPS during a telephone interview from Morong, the seaside town where the plant is located. "We need to avoid the nightmare in Japan happening in our own backyard one day," added the Velasco, vice chairman of the Nuclear Free Bataan Movement Net. "It has been built near the Pinatubo volcano."

Little wonder why anti-nuclear activists are troubled by the emerging divide across Southeast Asia between Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, all of which have democratic cultures that offer space for public discussion over nuclear policy, and Vietnam, under the iron grip of the communist party, where criticism and opposition to public policies are tolerated selectively. "Vietnam’s nuclear policy is a worry for the region," says Tara Buakamsri, the Southeast Asia campaign director for Greenpeace, the global environmental lobby. "They need to do more studies and need to set up an independent nuclear safety regulatory commission in line with requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency before proceeding further." Nuclear plants in Indonesia and the Philippines are worrying because both countries lie within the Pacific Ring of Fire - a belt around the Pacific Ocean prone to large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. "People’s lives would be put at risk if nuclear plants are built and operate in such areas," Tara argued.

The region is further hampered by the lack of a nuclear safety protocol in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-member regional bloc that includes Brunei, Burma (or Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. For now, the only agreement ASEAN’s members have inked on nuclear safety is the 1995 treaty to keep the regional bloc a zone free of nuclear weapons. It not only limits the use of nuclear weapons, but also checks against member countries threatening to use nuclear arms against other members in the bloc.

"People are alarmed and if they don’t know what their governments are doing or plan to do, that sense of alarm can spread," Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, told IPS. "Governments should pause and evaluate and open up the process [of building nuclear power plants] for discussion." Southeast Asian governments need to draw lessons from Asian giant China. In China the events in Japan have prompted a "stop at present [to their nuclear power programme] as they re-evaluate," Tay said. "Southeast Asian countries - with no experience in nuclear energy - should too."
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