If you had just recently brought your personal risk assessement up to date with “Large pieces of concrete dropping on my head when using Jl. Antasari to get home” your favourite expat organ is forced to brings bad, bad news about another, a risk that leaves “Asphixiation from Bajaij/Metro Mini exhaust fumes” gasping in its wake (sic).
Yes, just when you thought that all that nonsense about an Indonesian nuclear power plant had gone away in the wake of Fukushima, up pops an announcement from the Indonesian National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) that “(we) will go ahead with a plan to build a nuclear power plant in Bangka”.
The BATAN spokesman had a cosy chat with reporters (usual “attendance” money and a nice buffet lunch one imagines) prior to a mulilateral forum on nuclear energy issues at the Sari Pan Pacific in Jakarta last week and was kind enough to spend several minutes explaining just what a spiffy place Bangka is for siting a nuclear power plant, including the facts that there is oodles of granite for pouring the radioactive waste into, that the island is surrounded by water depths that make it unusually Tsunami free and not least, that a lot of the people of Bangka are stupid or naive enough to welcome such a development (38%) while quite a lot have no opinion at all (a remarkable 30%).
Of course, if you have been around longer than last week then you will know that project “announcements” are a dime a dozen here and that, if they had all been built and laid end to end, you could walk from Papua to Aceh without getting your feet wet.
So a nuclear power plant is very far from a done deal, just the usual smoke and mirrors so far but, and it’s a BIG but, things do happen here – and pretty fast when they do. A prime example is perhaps the above mentioned Jl. Antasari elevated road and indeed that at Casablanca, one minute it’s all talk and the next there are more excavators than you can shake a stick at with columns of concrete growing like mushrooms (with a fresh crop every morning), not to mention the traffic jam from hell.
What it needs to get one of the mega projects going is of course for at least one of the Usual Suspects to have a dog in the fight and there appears to be little sign of this so far, not because it’s small potatoes, at something around $20 billion it is not, but because they have few of the management and engineering skills required to build a nuclear power plant and, perhaps more significantly, have their hands full with many lower risk and equally profitable opportunities elsewhere.
So, not a high probability of this risk crystallising, however, do add it to your own risk register as a reminder, “Massive radioactive fallout from Chinese designed and built and Indonesian maintained nuclear power plant to the west” Mitigating action? – get the fuck out before it’s finished.