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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

On the availability of sizeable deposits of thorium in Sri Lanka - Professor Tissa Vitarana

Colombo, 17 October, ( "The total planning process in this country is very weak and needs to be strengthened. The planning mechanisms in other countries are strong, continuously well planned with people possessing necessary abilities; also there is adequate funding for this process," said Professor Tissa Vitarana, the Minister of Science & Technology, participating as the Chief Guest at the National Conference on Geo-informatics Applications Sri Lanka 2008 organized by Arthur C Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies in collaboration with the International Centre for Geo-informatics & Training (University of Moratuwa) held recently.

The Minister pointed out the fact that although ours is a democratic society where people elect the politicians, the planning process gets distorted further as the politicians tend to think of the next election and the planning is done accordingly and the monies too are spent accordingly. “We can’t develop as a country in this way. We have to have a proper, evidenced based scientific planning mechanism in place. Also there should be data and information to convince the politicians that this is how you have to progress as a nation. That mechanism has to be strengthened in the period ahead if we are to develop our economy.” Professor Vitarana emphasized.

He mentioned that 37 countries have already taken to nuclear power production where more than 50 countries had stated that they have already taken decisions to move into that area.

He said that India has made considerable progress in the utilization of thorium for the provision of nuclear energy on the basis of current analysis and that by the middle of this century, the uranium reserves would in terms of the potential increase of nuclear power generation plants, rarely would meet those needs. “By the end of this century there would be a steep increase in the price of uranium. So we have to take a decision whether we are to go into that process.”

The Minister confirmed that the Indian delegation offered to send a team at which moment that he wanted them to look into two areas, one is thorium; according to studies done by scientists in a geological survey, Sri Lanka has sizeable deposits of thorium, but they have not been properly assessed. “If you have thorium in a situation in which there is recycling of uranium, there is a possibility of making the uranium resources of the world to stretch further. But there is a limit for that too. But if thorium can supplement the uranium, it can be then taken further because thorium also has the advantage that the plutonium did in the fuel cycle. But it is much better to use thorium for production of further uranium.”

The Minister stated that if Sri Lanka is to take a policy decision in this context, it should go into nuclear power with a proper assessment of our thorium reserves.

He further mentioned that India has accurate figures of their thorium reserves and have already done all the preliminary work and shown that thorium can be successfully incorporated in the fuel cycle. “In a year or two, they will be setting up their first thorium based nuclear power plant. “

He was of the opinion that if we could accurately measure our thorium reserves, then we should be able to take a decision as to whether it is feasible to go into that form of energy generation and make a proper, considered and realistic decision. “In such instant, we can make our own assessments of our thorium reserves so that we need not depend on other people.”

The Minister stressed the need to have the infrastructure, the requisite competent scientific and technological personnel, provided with the necessary environment to work in to live in this country. “These are all lacking in our country. We have to give the necessary boost to these cutting edge technology development efforts. I hope that in the period ahead that the type of thinking which is taking place at planning levels and at financing levels will change for the better. “

Finally he stated that in the process of trying to meet our energy needs, it is futile to talk of development, if we don’t have the energy required for industrialized section. “The cost of fossil fuel is rising sharply and it is continued to rise.”

- Asian Tribune -

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