KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is against the use of nuclear power to generate electricity as science has not been able to provide a safe way to dispose of the radioactive waste generated.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said although nuclear plants are a cheap alternative to fossil fuels for producing electricity, they are still not safe.
"A lot of people wanted to have nuclear power when I stepped down but I am against nuclear power as it generates radiation.
"We produce tin and amang (tin tailings, which has heavy metals), a substance that was used to produce colour televisions. Later, people found other ways to produce colour TVs without using amang.
"Amang has to be activated to be useful but is radioactive. When companies no longer wanted it, we were left with amang residue, which is dangerous because it was activated," he said in his special opening address at the Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry (CEPSI 2018) conference on Tuesday (Sept 18).
Dr Mahathir said the Government then had to find measures to ensure the amang residue would not cause harm and it was then buried in a 1km square area under thick cement to contain the threat of radiation leak.
"We lost a big piece of land because it was not safe for it to be used. So that was our experience with radioactive materials," he added.
The Prime Minister said the experience taught the then administration that radioactive waste was not easily disposed of, adding that even science has not found a good way to manage such wastes.
"That is why we decided not to use nuclear power in Malaysia. That was the policy during my time as the fourth PM; it was not the policy for the fifth and sixth prime minister but now I am back," he quipped.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will still stick to using coal and other fuels to produce electricity.
He said although Malaysia has coal, the country still has not utilised it fully.
"We believe we can supply electricity for a long time and with that, we have power because electricity is synonymous with power. Power is needed to run the country," he said.