Safety concerns stall reactor construction

28 September 2001

The Nuclear Reactor Safety subcommittee has blocked construction of the Ongkarak nuclear research reactor due to inadequate safety measures. The Office of Atomic Energy for Peace (OAEP) has contracted US-based General Atomic to construct the 10MWe research reactor. The contract expired on June 26 this year, and the subcommittee has refused to allow the OAEP to extend it until it responds to questions regarding the safety of the project.

Santhad Somchiwita, chairman of the Science Ministry’s nuclear reactor subcommittee, said that the OAEP’s plan to use the Argonne National Laboratory to assess safety measures at the reactor was unacceptable as it was not accredited with the US National Regulation Committee. He added that the OAEP had not prepared emergency procedures should the upstream Nakhon Nayok dam collapse. And, in addition, OAEP had not acted on a Mineral Resources Department report that a subterranean fault existed in the area and damage by an earthquake was possible.

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