These days there is much excited talk in the country about the benefits of nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy is clean & green and renewable according to our top local experts. Many are keen to see the country walk the nuclear path but it is clear these people apparently have never heard of Chernobyl. Power generation is made available through burning fossil fuel like diesel oil or gas or coal. Nuclear power plants can provide abundant cheap power but they pose quite a significant risk to human life. There has been a lot of accidental or deliberate mishaps inside nuclear plants in other parts of the world over the years. But The and all in Malaysia, the love affair is just starting to blossom. nuclear energy policy is said to be in the final stages is expected to be ready in three months' time. Until then, in the Cabinet are keeping their fingers crossed.

The very earliest accident involving nuclear fuel or pile occurred in a US research laboratory in 1945. One scientist died as a result. He was to be among the first of many. Many of these early accidents directly involved members of the US military or their research labs which were still doing further work on weapons-related development. Accidental fires, poor handling and carelessness were among the causes. A few occasions, mishandling by cleanup personnel allowed nuclear materials to either reach a stage of criticality causing an immediate increase in radioactive radiation and contaminating the surrounding areas or allowed irradiated material to be accidentally dispersed into the air. Some were killed on the spot. This goes to show that human error is a big factor in making nuclear mishaps possible. And it was not just confined to the US. Similar accidents also took place eleswhere. As advances in the nuclear field took hold, such accidents involving military and research personnel were lessened. The advances also allowed the building of the first facilities for non-military use. These included factories or labs which produced medical products related to nuclear radiation and nuclear reactors dedicated to both research and commercial purposes. Such facilities outside the military inevitably led to the rise of incidents including fatal ones among the general public. These incidents included contamination of buildings, vehicles and assembled products in and around the facilities. Even the waste from these facilities posed many problems. These cases of contamination often involved food and the water supply of nearby residents. Occasionally, these incidents were covered up by the perpetrators. In other cases, hired workmen or outside contractors were not properly supervised or advised and this also caused some of the problems associated with contamination. Sometimes used items or parts that had been exposed to radiation were allowed to leave the premises as a result of oversight or plain indifference. These later end

up in faraway places harming or endangering many people. During the eighties, many incidents of radiation poisoning were reported around the world. Decommissioned nuclear plants or equipment were sold to outsiders and scrap dealers for much needed cash and no checks were made on how or where these items ended up. They were later found in new dwellings, city dumps, public sewers, second-hand goods and even food packaging plants. In one or two countries, newly laid roads were even discovered to have been by tainted by radioactivity. In the year 2000, thieves stole a piece of equipment containing radioactive material from a vehicle and melted it into scrap. This shows that theft and robbery besides carelessness and ignorance or misjudgement also contribute significantly to serious risks to human safety from the love affair with the nuclear demon. Besides labs and buildings, nuclear reactors powering power generators are another source of danger posed by radiation, contamination or even outright explosion. The most famous of them was Chernobyl. Human error including bypassing safety procedures and systems was the main cause. Even before the Chernobyl disaster, many nuclear power plants in various parts of the world had experienced various kinds of incidents and one or two actually briefly diced with very real danger; a complete reactor meltdown or the so-called China syndrome. Besides human error, mechanical breakdowns, faults and erratic functioning of certain equipment could cause unwanted incidents. Sometimes the attending technicians were unable to properly troubleshoot transporting conveyors or robotic arms and failed to notify their superiors in time and this easily caused a break in the safety procedures inside a nuclear plant. Such a situation can exist not only in plants with old reactors but also in newly built ones. Poor design could be the culprit. Overheating is another cause of unwanted incidents in nuclear plants. The cooling apparatus or system inside a nuclear plant is of very vital importance. Failure to control temperature could lead to melting of the fuel inside the reactor core, possibly causing leaks or even outright destruction of the core assembly. Besides overheating any kind of power surge must always be avoided inside a building housing a nuclear reactor. In 1979, the nuclear reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear generating station experienced a partial meltdown and there were reports of contamination around the area. The authorities however dismissed all claims of danger to human health. The reported nuclear leak only caused very minor exposure, albeit to an estimated two million people. In 1986, the Chernobyl reactor core exploded and sent a cloud of radioactive gas into the air which later travelled as far as Ireland and parts of Scandinavia. Tens of people died, many

of them were personnel sent to contain and seal the dirty core. Today, all incidents at nuclear plants must be reported to the IAEA. Some countries are desperately building nuclear power plants as if they were building hotels or schools. Such plants are very vulnerable to the horrifying results or effects of human error, malfunctioning equipment, terrorist attacks, or sabotage and even cruise missles unleashed by rogue states such as the US or military alliances like NATO. During Operation Alled Force in 1999, NATO combat planes deliberately targeted power plants in Serbia as part of the NATO bombing campaign. It would be much better to build power plants that burn waste generated by all households in the country. However, the will power might not be there at all. Nuclear energy is like a 2edged sword. It could benefit the master but it could also hurt him as well. The push for nuclear power has been partially responsible for the (relatively) very high rates of cancers now found to be prevalent in present Western societies. By the next century, three out of every five people in the West will suffer from some form of malignancy or abnormal cell growth at some point in their lives. Yet today, we have Western companies peddling all sorts of nuclear reactors to the rest of the world as if they were peddling candy. There are simply so many willing customers out there. Beware of the nuclear toyol. Malaysia might one day be counted as one of its many victims !!!