Low risk doesn't mean no risk

Mr Lim Soon Heng sought to assure the public that the risks are now low enough to seriously consider a nuclear power plant in Singapore (Time for S'pore to say 'Yes' to nuclear; March 15).

However, to paraphrase the Singapore Police Force, "low risk does not mean no risk".

In the case of a nuclear power plant, any residual risk - no matter how small - if realised, will mean the end of Singapore as a working economy.

If the power plant leaks radiation and the usual exclusion zones are set up, there will be a significant drop in tourism and businesses wanting to invest or operate here.

Mr Lim previously argued that "in the event of a dangerous situation, we should move the plant - not the people around the plant. There is only one way to do this: The plant has to be afloat at sea" (A floating nuclear power plant - off Singapore?; Oct 4, 2016).

This presumes that we will be allowed to move the leaking plant out to sea.

The problem with this is that other than a small strip of water, the seas around Singapore don't belong to us. Neither are there any clear-cut international waters around our island.

The SGSecure initiative has been expounding "Not If, But When", with regard to terrorist attacks. This applies to nuclear power plants as well.

A nuclear plant will be a tempting target. With such heavy air traffic in Singapore, and the smallness of our nation, it will take mere minutes for a pilot to divert and crash a plane into the plant.

Unforeseen natural disasters can also happen. Who would have thought that Fukushima would be hit by the double whammy of an earthquake and tsunami?

Goh Boon Nam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2017, with the headline 'Low risk doesn't mean no risk'. Print Edition | Subscribe