The science, technology and environment ministry of Thailand has suspended a nuclear research reactor project at Ongkharak district. Deputy minister Pornthep Techapaiboon said the lack of required safety analysis from an accredited institution, risk assessment analysis and safety measures had prompted him to issue the suspension order.

Speaking to a public information forum to explain the project, Techapaiboon said the ministry "could not allow the construction of the reactor project to proceed' unless the Office of Atomic Energy for Peace (oaep) and the project developer answer all questions about safety. The forum was attended by more than 100 people, most of them academics and officials. Local residents made up less than a third of the participants.

Many participants complained they learnt of the forum only through a non-governmental organisation opposing the project. It became clear that the project ran into serious trouble after Akkapol Sorrasuchart, the government's spokesperson, told the meeting: "Apparently, this project lacks transparency, and the Office of Commission of Counter Corruption has been asked to investigate.' Several questions on the safety measures were raised at the forum to which no satisfactory answers were given. Local residents wanted to know the extent of radiation in case of an accident and wondered whether any risk assessments had been carried out at all.