Singapore is starting a $63 million, five-year programme to conduct research and education in nuclear safety, science, and engineering, the National Research Foundation announced on Wednesday morning.
The programme comprises two main parts: a Singapore Nuclear Research and Safety Initiative led by Professor Lim Hock of the National University of Singapore, and a Nuclear Education and Training Fund to train undergraduates and graduate students, and support their overseas attachments.
It aims to train about ten people a year, about a hundred in all over the next decade.
The research initiative will focus on three areas: radiochemistry, which aims to work out how best to detect radioactivity in the environment and establish baseline data for Singapore; radiobiology, to study how human health is affected by the small doses of radiation in, say, a CT scan; and safety analysis of nuclear power plants through models and simulations.
In addition, the programme will include nuclear policy research and public education on nuclear technology.
In 2012, a two-year nuclear pre-feasibility study conducted by the government concluded that while current nuclear energy technologies are not suitable for Singapore yet, the Republic should continue to participate in global and regional discussions on nuclear safety, and be able to assess economic opportunities and safety aspects of various nuclear technologies, especially as neighbouring countries explore the use of nuclear energy.
For example, Vietnam has plans to construct power plants that use nuclear energy, though it said this year it would delay construction till 2020. And Indonesia has identified potential sites for nuclear plants.
Currently, nuclear technology is already used here in medicine for treatment and imaging, but medical physicists have to go overseas for training.