Discussion

The model results show that a major failure of a nuclear reactor sited in Indonesia could be a disaster for many countries in the region. This study supports the conclusions obtained in the earlier study of Ball (1991). The results presented here provide a more precise quantification of the transport of a radioactive gas and the risk associated with such a release.

It should be noted that at all times during the year a release of radioactive gas is highly likely to impact countries other than Indonesia. Indonesia is of course at greatest risk throughout the year. This study employed one year of meteorological data derived from ECMWF by Trenberth (1992) for the year 1993. The conclusions are therefore dependent on this data set. It is clear however that the 1993 data set does not represent an unusual wind flow pattern. It isin good agreement with the long term average wind patterns (Trenberth 1992; Ball, 1991). Further investigations with each available year of meteorological data from 1980-1995 would help refine these estimates.

Model runs have demonstrated that northern Australia, including the north of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland would be at substantial risk of receiving radioactive fallout, particularly during the summer months. It is likely that the release of a radioactive gas would reach northern Australia in only a few days if a release from Java were to occur during summer. Potential impacts on northern Australia of even a small release could potentially be devasting to agricultural production and tourism, at least in the short term.

The results of this study show that two distinct patterns of atmospheric transport take place during the year based on the influence of the Asian monsoon. Again, without prior knowledge of the nature of an actual release, and the prevailing meteorological conditions at the time, the results presented here can only be considered to represent the most likely conditions and not what may take place during an actual release. To facilitate an early warning of the arrival of radioactive fallout a high resolution regional meteorological forecasting and chemistry model would need to be developed if reliable estimates of the dispersion of a cloud of radioactive gas are to be obtained.

It is clear from the risk analysis that a regional approach needs to be taken to the siting and operation of nuclear power reactors in South East Asia, if they are built, as was first proposed by Ball (1991). An early warning system, developed through regional cooperation, should be put in place to help minimise the impacts of any accidental release of radioactive gas in the event that construction of nuclear power plants takes place in South East Asia. In the case of the construction of nuclear power plants in Java the success of an early warning system would critically depend on the cooperation of the Indonesian government.

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