Muslim clerics forbid construction of Indonesian nuclear power plant

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Associated Press, International Herald Tribune
Published: September 3, 2007

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Dozens of Muslim clerics issued an edict against the construction of Indonesia's first nuclear power plant on seismically charged Java island, saying the potential dangers far outweighed the benefits.

The scholars from the country's largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, acknowledged the plant, which is scheduled to be built in 2010 and up and running by 2016, would help meet the rising demand for electricity.

But they declared the project "haram" — or forbidden by Islam — over concerns about frequent earthquakes on the densely populated island and questions about the handling of radioactive waste, said Kholilurrohman, who led Sunday's meeting.

"We have to avert danger," he said, adding that the edict applies only to the plant on Java's northern tip, 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of the capital, Jakarta. Violating such an order is considered a sin.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation with an estimated 200 million believers, hopes nuclear power will contribute a total of 4,000 megawatts to the country's electricity grid by 2025.

The archipelagic nation is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

Though nuclear plants can be built to withstand temblors, the public remains wary. Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in Java island in recent months.

Posted in |