YOGYAKARTA-On Friday, March 11, 2011, an earthquake at of 8.9 on the Richter scale occurred in Japan. The quake had triggered the failure of the cooling system of Daiichi Fukushima nuclear power plant in the country. Furthermore, there was an explosion that spread radioactive material into the environment. The incident is recognized as a blow to the world's nuclear industry. Germany reportedly suspended its nuclear power plant operation for evaluation of safety systems after protests emerged.
Nuclear expert from Department of Physics Engineering, UGM, Dr. Ir. Andang Widi Harto, MT, said that in principle, even though system of safety at nuclear power plants varies in configuration, it still has a similarity, which is depending on the backup power supply system after shutdown (still depending on emergency diesel engines.) "Therefore, the diesel engine failure would have similar consequence to the Fukushima Daiichi NPP," Andang told reporters in Stana Parahita Room, Tuesday (22/3). On the occasion, Andang was accompanied by other team members of Department of Physics Engineering, namely Dr.Ing. Sihana, Dr.Ing. Kusnanto, Ir. Anung Muharini, M.T., Ir. Haryono Budi Santosa, and Ir. Susetyo Hario Putero, M. Eng.
Andang added that Fukushima nuclear power plant is the second generation of the initial NPP (BWR 4), which was built in 1970. The second generation BWR Type which is operated more is the newer type (BWR). The newer types, though still belonging to the generation of 2, have been improved compared to previous types in the greater size or measure (containment). "In the U.S., for example, which also operates the second-generation nuclear power plants, an additional safeguard procedure has been applied which allows the operator to cool the core in a state without a back up power," he explained.
In the case of Fukushima, the explosion that occurred was a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, not a nuclear explosion. It is characterized by low level of radiation release. It is very different from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hydrogen chemical explosion is not as strong as steam explosion at the Chernobyl reactor. "Well, the explosion at Fukushima reactor just threw the roof and walls of buildings, while the steel frame of building is still left intact," said Andang.
In his view, Fukushima case occurred among the layout of diesel engines which is placed integrally. Supposedly, six nuclear power units that are available have diesel engines respectively. In addition, the location of nuclear power plants should be placed at a relatively higher location. "The issue of placement of diesel engine layout is necessary for the safety system to not fail when there is damage or failure," he said.
The existence of nuclear power plants, especially in Indonesia, according to Andang is still quite necessary. Moreover, energy demand is still inadequate and uneven across regions. Currently, the energy available in Indonesia reaches 30 thousand megawatts. With this condition, approximately 60% of regions in Indonesia cannot be connected to the electricity network. In fact, in 2025 it is estimated that the demand reaches 100% of our energy.
Lack of energy is still aplenty, especially electricity, the supply from several alternative energies, such as geothermal, macro-hydropower, or solar cells is not enough. NPP is one of the solutions to create a large enough energy to reach 1000 megawatts. Therefore, the presence of nuclear power plant as an energy supplier is still needed in Indonesia.