Thousands protest against Indonesian nuclear plant
Thousands of protesters have rallied in Indonesia’s Central Java, calling on the Government to abandon plans to build a nuclear power plant on the outskirts of their city.
The Government, under increasing pressure to improve energy supplies to the world’s fourth most populous nation, plans to built its first plant on the foothills of Mount Muria, a dormant volcano on the north coast of Java island.
Police say nearly 4,000 local residents, students and anti-nuclear activists have taken to the streets in the city of Kudus, about 30 kilometres from the volcano.
Lilo Sunarya, one of the protest organisers, says the district Government will send a letter to Jakarta, urging national authorities to cancel the project over fears of the dangers posed by nuclear waste.
Mr Sunarya says that although the nuclear plant is expected to generate power for 40 to 50 years, the waste created could threaten the health of local residents for centuries.
The Indonesian Government shelved plans to develop atomic energy in 1997 in the face of mounting public opposition and the discovery and exploitation of the large Natuna gas field.
But the plans resurfaced in 2005 amid increasing power shortages and as part of a government drive to develop and diversify energy resources.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has backed Indonesia’s plans to build nuclear plants, despite opposition from environmentalists.
Greenpeace says the plan poses a danger to quake-prone Indonesia and its neighbours.