Safety concerns

 

Communities around the proposed site are concerned.

 

Kemin, a farmer in Balong, a village of 5,500 people near the mountain, said: "What about our land? If they buy our land for the plant what will we do? We can't work."

 

Many are not familiar with the pros and cons of nuclear power in Indonesia.

 

Walhi, an Indonesian environmental group, has launched a campaign to stave off the government's nuclear plans.

 

Arief Zayyn, the group's executive director, said the possibility of corruption during construction would compromise the quality and safety levels of the reactors.

 

He said: "Can they guarantee this is totally safe? Can they guarantee the people who work there will be fully qualified?

 

"This is Indonesia and we doubt it will happen, we're not ready to handle high technology."

 

Government defends plans

Farmers in Balong, central Java, worry about plans to site a nuclear plant on their land

But Indonesia's National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) said due diligence on safety had already been done.

 

Professor Soentono, chairman of Batan, said the proposed site was in a safer place than Japan, which also sits on the Pacific Rim of Fire.

 

"People should realise that Japan has 54 nuclear power plants and not one stands on a safer situation than Indonesia."

 

The agency has reached out to the villagers to explain the country's energy crisis and how nuclear energy was at least 50 per cent cheaper, and much cleaner, than fossil fuels.

 

But Ahmad Prawoto, another villager in Balong, is not convinced.

 

"My electricity bill is cheap enough, it's less than $6 a month. So I still think it's better not to build the power plant here."