THE NUCLEAR Energy for Peace Bill – seen as legislation that opens the door for nuclear power in Thailand -passed the National Legislative Assembly’s (NLA) consideration on Thursday. It received both cheers and opposition from academics and the public sectors.
The bill consisted of 152 articles and was intended to be a regulation for controlling firms that use the radioactive material.
Its supporters say it will bring safety for its users and protect the people and environment from radiation, while complying with international regulations on nuclear energy standards.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaign director Tara Buakamsri voiced concern this bill might not properly regulate radioactive material and nuclear waste transportation.
“We have cases of radioactive material and nuclear waste smuggling into Thailand and we need the regulatory body to control this activity. Moreover, the information disclosure about nuclear energy is still a problem,” Tara said.
Nuclear power plant construction
He noted that the bill would also help facilitate nuclear power plant construction in Thailand, despite the nation still not being ready yet for this kind of energy.
“We have a very low budget compared to European countries to build nuclear power plants, so I’m afraid our nuclear power plants will have a safety problem and may cause harmful effects to the environment and people,” he said.
Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Science lecturer Jessada Denduangboripant said he was pleased the bill had passed.
“I did not know much about the details of this bill, but in general it will regulate the safer use of nuclear energy and allow the introducing of nuclear power to Thailand,” Jessada said.
“This bill is very essential for the country’s development, just like the Biological Safety Bill, and similar to the GMOs bill, this bill is strongly opposed to by people who still fear nuclear energy.”
He highlighted that Thailand needed nuclear energy to ensure the energy stability of the country.
“Technically, we have been prepared for the use of nuclear energy to generate power for a very long time and our neighbours, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, also have started their nuclear power plant projects,” he said.
The NLA finished consideration of the bill, which passed with a landslide vote of 144 approvals, one objection and five abstentions.
The NLA has amended the name from the Nuclear Energy Bill to Nuclear Energy for Peace Bill, changing some wording and making suggestions, such as asking the Defence Ministry to draft an additional law to regulate the use of nuclear energy on military vehicles from abroad that enter the Kingdom.
The NLA also suggested there should be a law on civil punishment for violating the Act. There was a need to set up an insurance fund for damages to the environment and people in the case of radioactive contamination and establishing fines for such damage.
The committee on peaceful use of nuclear energy, chaired by the prime minister, will also be set up by the bill to regulate any operations that concern nuclear and radioactive material.