#India – Whistle Blowers and the Public Interest


June 25, 2013

whistle

by M. V. Ramana

The bulk of development policies, justified in the ‘national interest’, actually diminish poor people’s ability to control and gainfully use natural resources. Every ‘national’ project is presented as beneficial for the masses even though it requires some poor people to surrender their land or their livelihood. While the ‘greater good of the nation’appears to be a laudable cause, it must appear suspicious to the rural poor who are consistently chosen, time and time again, to make all the sacrifices, while those more powerful reap the benefits. – Amita Baviskar, In the Belly of the River

There is a common message emanating from the centers of power in Washington, D.C. and New Delhi: Whistle blowing, or truth telling as the act may be more accurately described, is not a welcome activity. As I write this, officials in the United States are searching all over Hong Kong for Edward Snowden, the high school dropout, who revealed the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programme. Proving its status as a loyal ally of the United States, the United Kingdom warned airlines not to fly Snowden to Britain. In the meanwhile, the trial of Bradley Manning, the most famous truth teller in the United States, started in Maryland, USA.

A much less celebrated truth teller was also in the Courts recently in New Delhi. Once upon a time, Manoj Mishrawas employed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) at its Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) in Gujarat and was the president of Kakrapar Unit Kendriya Sachivalaya Hindi Parishad. Before describing why this person was at the Supreme Court, a little bit of geography and history might be in order.

Kakrapar was originally considered as a potential site for a nuclear power plant in the 1960s but then rejected. The reason given then was that there was a large population within the exclusion area and the site was close to a major source of water used for drinking and cultivation (For more on the criteria used for reactor siting, see pp. 44-46 of The Power of Promise). In addition to the population, another problem with the Kakrapar site was that it was in a low-lying area, prone to flooding. This was of particular concern because the site was close to the Ukai Dam and it was conceivable that the whole reactor might get flooded.

In 1980, however, the Atomic Energy Commission announced that Kakrapar was to become the fifth nuclear power station and the two reactors there started commercial operations in 1993 and 1995. Of course, neither of the problems originally cited had changed. If anything, the population in the area had only increased, both naturally and because of various construction activities.Though some amount ofearth-fillingwas done to avoid flooding, things didn’t turn out so well.

The outlet from the turbine building of KAPS leads to an artificial lake called Moticher, which has gates to control the flow of water. On 15 and 16 June 1994, there were heavy rains in South Gujarat andthe water level of the lake began to rise. The ducts thatwere meant to let out water ended up becoming conduits for water to come in. And since there were no arrangements either for sealing cable trenches and valve pits, they too allowed water to enter. Water began entering the complex on the night of 15 June and by the next morning, there was water in the turbine building as well as other parts of the reactor complex. The workers inthe morning shift had to swim in chest-high water, and the control room was reportedly inaccessible for some time. Finally, a site emergency was declared and workers were evacuated.

By this time, another problem had become apparent. The gates that could control the flow of water into Moticher had not been well maintained, and so, mud had collected around them and they could not be opened. The KAPS management requested help from the district and state authorities, but that evidently didn’t help either. Fortunately, villagers from the area, who were worried about the security of their own homes, made a breach in the embankment of the lake that allowed the water to drain out. Finally, on 18 June, a large pump was brought to Kakrapar from Tarapur, and the work of removing the water from the turbine building began.

In the meanwhile, much of the equipment in the turbine building was submerged, including the water pumps used to cool the reactor core. Electrical power from the grid failed, and diesel generators had to be used. Fortunately, the reactor had been shutdown following the major fire at the Narora for inspection of turbine blades. The floodwater carried away canisters of radioactive waste, and it is not clear if they were ever recovered or if any of them released its contents into the waters.

This is where Manoj Mishra comes in. NPCIL officials evidently did not bother to inform members of the public about what happened. The way the public got to know anything about the damage at KAPS was because Mishra wrote a letter to Gujarat Samachar about what happened. For this revelation, Mishra was suspended and, after an internal inquiry, removed from service in March 1996. Since then, Mishra has been fighting the nuclear establishment in courts—and losing. This process of fighting in the courts took him to the Gujarat High Court, which, in 2007, dismissed his case. Mishra then appealed to the Supreme Court, and in April of this year, the SC dismissed his appeal. Itsobservations are worth quoting at some length:

“it will be apposite to notice the growing acceptance of the phenomenon of whistleblower.A whistleblower is a person who raises a concern about the wrongdoing occurring in an organisation or body of people. Usually this person would be from that same organisation. The revealed misconduct may beclassified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations and corruption. Whistleblowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organisation) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues)…

“In our view, a person like the respondent can appropriately be described as a whistleblower for the system who has tried to highlight the malfunctioning of an important institution established for dealing with cases involving revenue of the State and there is no reason to silence such a person by invoking Articles 129 or 215 of the Constitution or the provisions of the Act…

“In our opinion, the aforesaid observations are of no avail to the appellant…the appellant is educated only upto 12th standard. He is neither an engineer, nor an expert on the functioning of the Atomic Energy Plants. Apart from being an insider, the appellant did not fulfill the criteria for being granted the status of a whistle blower. One of the basic requirements of a person being accepted as awhistle blower is that his primary motive for the activity should be in furtherance of public good. In other words, the activity has to be undertaken in public interest, exposing illegal activities of a public organization or authority. The conduct of the appellant, in our opinion, does not fall within the high moral and ethical standard that would be required of a bona fide whistle blower.”

There are many questions that we should ask. First, in what way is the education level of Manoj Mishra relevant to deciding if he was a whistle blower, and why should any whistle blower be an expert on whatever it is that he or she is revealing the truth about? If someone reveals that a pharmaceutical company is producing contaminated drugs meant to treat cardiac problems (Such things do happen, see for example), does that person have to be an expert on how pharmaceutical plants operate? Or should he or she be a doctor with many years of experience in treating heart disease? Second, what might have happened if Mishra had actually been an expert in the operation of atomic power plants? Well, we can only speculate. But remember that for Mishra to become an expert, he would necessarily have to have spent several years at the DAE’s training school, during the course of which he would likely not just have learnt about nuclear reactor physics and engineering, but also become indoctrinated to trust authority and support the NPCIL and DAE policies of secrecy unquestioningly. This is a potential reason for the paucity of truth tellers from the upper echelons of the DAE or NPCIL. Or most other hierarchical organizations, for that matter. Third, what exactly is the public interest in this case? It is clear what the interest of NPCIL and DAE would have been—to hide the news that its design and its maintenance were inadequate to protect against even moderately severe floods. But, for the public, it would be just the opposite: to hear about what happened within KAPS during the floods, so they know what risks they faced.

Why then did the Court argue otherwise? Of course, we cannot know for sure. But some clues can be had from the other recent Supreme Court judgment. This decision dismissed a plea seeking to halt the commissioning of the Koodankulam nuclear reactors, under construction in Tamil Nadu, till the implementation of key additional safety measures recommended after the Fukushima accidents of 2011.

As is well known, the massive release of radioactive materials from the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, which has resulted in the contamination of a large swath of area and is now estimated to lead in the long run to something on the order of a thousand cancers, also added to the already strong opposition among people living around Koodankulam. What the Supreme Court decided, in essence, was that these people will now have to put up with such “minor inconveniences”, “minor radiological detriments” and “minor environmental detriments”.

The Court’s opinion is replete with references to the public interest. “While setting up a project of this nature, we have to have an overall view of larger public interest rather than smaller violation of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution”. Elsewhere, “Larger public interest of the community should give way to individual apprehension of violation of human rights and right to life guaranteed under Article 21”. It went on further to say, “Nuclear power plant is being established not to negate right to life but to protect the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution…it will only protect the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution for achieving a larger public interest and will also achieve the object and purpose of Atomic Energy Act”. And so on, and so forth.

What’s important about this decision is that the Judges’ idea of public interest seems to be based largely, if not completely, on testimony offered by various arms of the nuclear establishment. The decision,in essence, neglects the numerous pieces of expert testimony submitted by the petitioners questioning various aspects of the government’s wisdom in building nuclear reactors in general, including at Koodankulam. For this reason, if the Supreme Court decision was meant to help settle the contentious debate over Koodankulam, it has not, and cannot, succeed in this aim. The reliance on expert testimony from within the nuclear establishment demonstrates myopia on a very basic issue – the lack of public trust regarding thenuclear establishment.

But back to the basic point: arguments made by powerful institutions about the public interest often hide a more divisive reality: it is hard, if not impossible, to come up with a clearly defined and widely accepted notion of public interest that can apply to a large range of areas. [See Robert Jensen’s arguments on a related theme, the national interest, albeit in a different context]. More important, even if there might besome common public interest (“clean air”, for example), trying to actually reach that common interest usually involves having those goals be negotiated through power struggles, and the imposition of hardship to one disadvantaged group or the other.

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek once wrote: “It is indeed true that we live in a society of risky choices, but it is one in which only some do the choosing, while others do the risking.” To this one may add, those who have the power to choose often make choices that are beneficial to them but have become adept at passing off those choices as being in the public interest. Whistle blowers seem to care more for those suffering the consequences, real or potential, than the interests of the powerful elite. We, at least those of us who do not belong to these exclusive elite enclaves of power, owe these whistle blowers a huge debt of gratitude.

[M. V. Ramana is with the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University and the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin 2012)]

Repeating Enron in Jaitapur- Miscalculations of the cost of energy from Jaitapur will cost #India


English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

 

Suvrat Raju, Hindu 

 

The tariff of Rs. 4 per unit of electricity is unrealistic unless the government subsidises the cost of the first two Areva reactors by Rs. 22,000 crore

More than a decade after Enron’s collapse, its legacy continues to haunt Maharashtra. In 2006, the Dabhol power project was restructured into the Ratnagiri power project with public subsidies that, by some estimates, amounted to Rs. 10,000 crore. The project has led a troubled existence and in March this year it announced that it may have to stop servicing its outstanding debt of Rs. 9,000 crore because of a problem with its fuel supply. In spite of this reminder of the continuing long-term costs of sweetheart deals to attract foreign investment in the power sector, a team from the Indian atomic energy establishment left for France last week to repeat the same mistakes.

Problem with design

The French company Areva, just like Enron, has been promised a contract for six European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs) by executive fiat, bypassing a competitive bidding process. The reactors will be set up in Jaitapur, which is also in Ratnagiri. No one knows the exact extent of this give-way, because no EPR has been commissioned anywhere in the world. Areva started construction on its first EPR in Finland in 2005, with a promise to complete the reactor by 2009, at a price of just over €3 billion. After eight years, the reactor is still incomplete but cost estimates have ballooned to €8.5 billion —almost thrice the original figure. Areva has various excuses, but similar delays and cost increases in the second EPR under construction in its own country point to a more fundamental problem with the EPR design.

There is little public data about the EPRs being built in China, but these prices are consistent with those proposed for EPRs in Britain and indicate that each Indian reactor may cost as much as Rs. 60,000 crore. So, the price of the two reactors that the government hopes to commence in the Twelfth Plan period will equal the total plan outlay on science and technology including the departments of Space, Science and Technology, Biotechnology, and research labs throughout the country.

What does this imply for consumers? In 2010, the then CEO of Areva, Anne Lauvergeon, told this newspaper that the tariff would be “below the Rs. 4 figure.” More recently, Areva suggested that this “tariff holds true,” except for small escalations because of the delay in operationalising the project.

Both Areva and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) have doggedly refused to explain the origins of this number. In the same 2010 interview, Lauvergeon said that “I am not going to give you the details … it is not for me to give the price if the customer does not want to give it.” The government has also refused to divulge information in meetings with local activists or even in response to parliamentary questions, where it has fallen back on the story that the final price is still under negotiation.

However, it is possible to independently estimate the cost of electricity using a study on the economics of imported reactors that the government produced in preparation for the India-U.S. nuclear deal. This was later updated and published by NPCIL.

When M.V. Ramana and I applied this framework to the Jaitapur reactors, in a paper for theEconomic and Political Weekly, we concluded that the true cost of electricity is likely to be almost four times as high as what the government claims. The figure of Rs. 4 per unit comes from a combination of unrealistic assumptions and a revenue model that provides massive public subsidies to the project.

The single most important factor in determining the tariff is the capital cost of the reactor. The government claims that the Indian EPRs will be cheaper because construction forms “about 40 per cent of the total cost.” Estimates suggest that construction costs in India are about 60 per cent lower than Europe. So, under best case conditions, the government could hope for about a 25 per cent reduction in the total cost.

However, the capital cost assumed in the government’s study is not 25 per cent lower, but literally 25 per cent of the figure for European reactors! It is this assumption of an unrealistic capital cost that underpins the Rs. 4 figure.

The study also reveals how the government plans to set out an exceedingly generous revenue model for the project. For example, it assumes that the project will have access to long-term debt at an interest rate of only 6 per cent. This is inconsistent with the serious concerns about the project’s viability. Moreover, since the yield on 10-year Indian Government bonds has been consistently higher than 7 per cent, even the full backing of the government will not bring the rate down to this level in the open market. So, the government will have to arm-twist public sector banks or itself provide a long-term loan to the project at this throwaway rate.

Another subsidy is built into the government’s plan to inject equity during the first few years of construction. In the government’s revenue model, this money will sit idle for more than a decade until the reactor becomes operational. Assuming, optimistically, that the EPRs are constructed as fast as the Kudankulam reactors, this delay will bring the government’s return on equity down from the advertised rate of 14 per cent to an effective rate of only 7.7 per cent. Further delays, which are likely, will reduce this further.

When these parameters are corrected, and combined with a realistic estimate of the cost of fuel, the government’s own methodology leads to a first year tariff of Rs.15 per unit, even without including transmission and distribution costs. Obviously, this cannot be passed on to consumers, and so the state will have to subsidise the electricity. To bring the tariff down to Rs. 4 will require a subsidy of Rs. 22,000 crore each year for the first two reactors. This “Areva-subsidy” is a quarter of India’s entire food subsidy bill.

There are other serious questions about the project. For example, Areva’s reluctance to accept even a small amount of liability is in sharp contrast to its unscientific claims that it has precisely computed the probability of a serious accident in an EPR, and found it to be once in 1.6 million years.

But the economics of this project are so appalling that it is possible to separate these issues and even the broader question of the role of nuclear energy in India. Even the nuclear establishment accepts, as WikiLeaks revealed, that the “NPCIL [has] paid a ‘high’ price”. The justification for the project cannot be Maharashtra’s electricity shortage either since at this price it is possible to find several alternative solutions to that problem.

Jairam Ramesh admitted that for the government, the “venture is significant not just from an energy generation but also from a strategic point of view.” Anil Kakodkar, former chairperson of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, explained that India had to “nurture” French “business interests” because France helped India when it wanted access to international nuclear markets.

Back-room deal

This is an admission of an unsavoury back-room deal. However, a moment’s reflection also brings out the circularity of this argument. France supported India’s efforts because it wanted to sell reactors to India. Why should the country return this self-centred help by paying through its nose?

There is a simple but significant political aspect to this entire issue. It is clear that this deal and the concomitant negotiations to purchase reactors from American companies are being driven by pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office. The reason that negotiations with Areva have taken on an urgent note is because the government’s prospects in the next elections are uncertain. If the next dispensation does not have the same ideological commitment to imported nuclear reactors, these deals may flounder.

Our system concentrates enormous financial powers in the hands of the executive. However, just because the government has the power does not mean that it has the right to rush into a deal that could bleed the country for years to come.

— SUVRAT RAJU

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/repeating-enron-in-jaitapur/article4834435.ece

 

 

 

#India – Flaws in Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant


By A Gopalakrishnan

19th June 2013 07:23 AM

The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu is owned and will be operated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is to oversee and regulate nuclear safety, while the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) also have well-defined regulatory roles to play in non-nuclear safety aspects.

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) reviewed previous lower court judgements and heard fresh affidavits on issues of KKNPP safety. In its final judgment on May 6, 2013, the SC directed AERB, NPCIL, MoEF and TNPCB to (collectively) oversee each and every aspect, including safety of the plant, its impact on environment and the quality of various components and systems in the plant, before commissioning it. The SC has also directed that a (joint) report to that effect be filed before it prior to commissioning of the plant.

To understand the overall problems in their right perspective, one has to see how the total project responsibility at KKNPP is shared between India and Russia. Under the 1998 inter-governmental supplementary agreement, the Russians are to provide the reactor designs and supply the major equipment. The instrumentation and control (I&C) design package, including installation details, were also to come from Russia. The NPCIL and its Indian contractors would build the reactors, but a small team of Russian specialists (“advisers”) would stay at the site to render technical assistance at all stages of construction, in the installation of reactor equipment and in the commissioning and operation of the reactors, until NPCIL takes over.

KKNPP reactors are pressurised water reactors (PWRs) of the Russian VVER type, of 1000 MWe rating. The past Indian experience is entirely on pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs), India having built only a very small PWR for a submarine which is yet to be started. The PHWRs are technologically very different from the VVER-1000 reactors, and the Russians have designed and built more than 20 of them. The experience gained over the years by Indian contractors who have steadily worked with NPCIL is also limited to PHWRs. Therefore, it is certainly foolhardy for India to insist that KKNPP Units 1 & 2 shall be built under the above division of responsibilities. The reasons for doing so have been the minimisation of cost and an overconfident estimation of NPCIL’s capabilities, combined with a lack of appreciation of the technological finesse required to build a large and complicated PWR for the first time. The problems described in this article can be primarily attributed to this fatal error in project formulation.

Besides the probable installation of substandard parts in KKNPP reactors due to laxity of quality control, it is now evident that another major safety issue related to the I&C systems is worrying the KKNPP management and the AERB, because of which the Unit 1 start-up is now postponed to July 2013. This inference is reached by piecing together information now available in the public domain. The problem, to put it simply, appears to be the inability to eliminate spurious signals of untraced origin appearing in many of the instrumentation cables of paramount importance to safety, like the reactor neutron chamber output lines, wiring of the safety and shut-off rod control systems, etc.

Such phenomena belong to a broad class of problems known as Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI). A very rudimentary example of EMI, for instance, is that of a power-carrying, unshielded cable that would generate a surrounding electro-magnetic field, that in turn could induce a voltage/current in a nearby instrumentation or control cable. This spurious input can add to or subtract from the “real” signals, thereby sending erroneous control inputs to a variety of crucial safety systems, possibly leading to unpredictable and serious malfunctions or accidents.

EMI in nuclear plants can be totally avoided by following modern I&C system design and installation norms. (See, for example, “Modern I&C for Nuclear Power Plants”, IAEA, 1999). In particular, obtaining a sound, interference-free transmission of electrical signals between various parts of a nuclear system demands careful attention to cable laying and routing as well as earthing, and requires that specific rules in this regard are strictly followed. The Russian “advisers” on site seem to have earlier indicated to the Indians that most of the VVERs which they have commissioned have used strict Russian standards like GOST 50746-2000, called the National Standard of the Russian Federation for Electro-magnetic Compatibility (EMC) of equipment for nuclear power plants (Requirements and Test Methods), which is available at: http://files.stroyinf.ru/Data1/41/41348/. However, the sequential history of KNPP events do not show that such care was taken in implementation of I&C systems by NPCIL and their contractors.

The cable problems at Koodankulam have a long history. Glimpses of this can be seen from the past annual reports of the AERB. The 2009-2010 AERB report states the regulators were “informed (by NPCIL) that new cable routes have been created to take care of additional cables required for normal operation of the plant, as these were not accounted for in the earlier design”. AERB’s 2010-2011 annual report states that “NPCIL was asked to submit detailed response to various observations made on cable layout — along with justifications for deviations from established methods of laying of cables and alternative measures to meet any exigencies”. Interestingly, the 2011-2012 annual report is totally silent about the follow-up actions taken in this matter.

Around the same time, a telling PTI report on the KKNPP cable problem appeared on July 20, 2011, in Indian newspapers. In part it said (http://ibnlive.in.com/news/tn-kudankulam-nplant-to-achieve-criticality/168957-3.html), “But the observation that several cables were missing, to be incorporated by designers in the reactor almost towards completion of the plant (2009-2010), could not be explained… The designers discovered that several kilometres of power and control cables in the reactor were ‘missed’ after the completion of the double containment of the reactor… A year ago, a major operation had to be undertaken to incorporate the ‘missing’ cables by making new opening in the containment domes (breaking open the concrete walls and its steel liner) and sealing it again after bringing the cables from the switch yard to inside”. One wonders how such a serious error was committed by the NPCIL engineers and their contractors!

This exposes a serious difference in the ethics of doing project site work between the Russians and Indians. Russians are very well-organised and systematic, and they rigidly follow the rules and expect others also to do so. While Indians, too, have rules and regulations on paper, to expedite work or to minimise cost, they would not hesitate to bend or break rules. In case of the I&C design and installation details, the Russians had prepared detailed documentation including hundreds of drawings, which they expected the Indian installers to follow diligently, in the interest of performance and safety. The World Nuclear Association has reported that KKNPP control system documentation was delivered late by the Russians and, when reviewed (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-G-N/India/#.Ub7fWPkzjAs) by NPCIL, it showed up the need for significant refining and even reworking of some aspects. This was necessitated because, while waiting for details to arrive from Russia, the NPCIL team had proceeded on with the I&C work based on their PHWR experience, little realising that the PWR/VVER requirements contained in the Russian documents would be significantly different. In doing re-work and rectification of the PHWR-based work, the NPCIL team is unlikely to have come close to meeting the Russian design intent or conformed to the installation documents received from them. The origin of the present problem lies in this massive installation error of the NPCIL.

In 2004, the then KKNPP station director told Frontline (http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=flonnet&rdurl=fl2108/fl210800.htm) that “difficulty arose with working documentation, which was to arrive from the Russian designers. But I shall not blame the Russians, there was pressure on them to advance their drawings and documents.” He went on to say, “When you want to speed up…you have to take certain decisions even if the input data are not available. As a designer and an engineer, you have to assume those data and go ahead.” It is this daredevil approach of the NPCIL site engineers and their contractors which has landed the KKNPP in the present mess.

It is most likely that the KKNPP cable system, as completed today, has not conformed to the norms and standards of cable selection, EMI shielding, or layout as per Russian, Indian or any other standards. No wonder the EMI problem is persisting, because there is no other short-cut solution other than re-doing a sizeable part of the I&C cabling and its layout in accordance with a set of modern standards, agreeable also to the Russians. This may take several more months and extensive re-working, but this must be done in the interest of public safety. As directed by the SC, the group consisting of NPCIL, AERB, MoEF and TNPCB must certainly find an acceptable resolution of this problem and include it in their report to the apex court.

A Gopalakrishnan is a former Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.

 

#India – Nuclear utility grabs land #WTFnews


Author(s):
Akshay Deshmane
Issue Date:
2013-6-30

Public sector NPCIL encroaches upon mango plantations near its Ratnagiri plant

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/14_20130630(1).jpg” width=”457″ height=”296″ border=”0″ />Faded white line has been marked by NPCIL for building a wall, says Latika Pawar (Photo: Akshay Deshmane)

LATIKA PAWAR had just returned home after working at her mango plantation when she heard a loud noise outside. The 54-year-old called other residents and rushed to her field, a stone’s throw away from her house in Dhaniwre hamlet of Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district. “A bulldozer was moving towards our mango plantations, which are in the vicinity of a proposed nuclear plant. Two days earlier (on May 13), boundary lines with white chalk and yellow paint were drawn through our plantations,” recalls Pawar. “Company officials (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited or NPCIL) were preparing to build a compound wall of the plant through our plantations,” she says. “The corporation has persistently harassed us over the past one year to extend the wall,” adds resident Mahesh Ramchandra Waghdhare. At least 10 plantations with 250 mango trees are likely to be lost if the compound wall is built, say residents of Dhaniwre.

In 2010, NPCIL acquired 938 hectares from several villages in Ratnagiri’s Rajapur taluka amid much resistance from residents who are yet to accept the compensation package. The land on which Dhaniwre sits and the surrounding area was not part of the land acquired, claim the hamlet residents. The records of Ratnagiri collectorate support their claim: survey number 119, which stands for area under Dhaniwre and its surrounding, is not part of the project site. NPCIL itself has said several times that the land under the survey number 119 will not be acquired.

Bhikaji Wagdhare, sarpanch of Madban village, which includes Dhaniwre hamlet, alleges, “NPCIL slowly wants to force out all the residents from Madban and encroach on the land to accommodate the world’s largest nuclear plant. This is why they have not yet revealed the centre point where the reactors will be placed.”

NPCIL did not respond to Down To Earth’s calls, SMSs and e-mails.

On that eventful afternoon of May 15 when the bulldozer had almost dug a pit in the ground, the hamlet residents managed to stop it. “Since we were complaining, they asked us where would we like to have the extended compound wall. We said nowhere. They promised that if the wall comes up, our plantations would not be touched and water and power arrangements would be made. But we do not trust them,” says Pawar. The bulldozer left for the day and did not return. For Dhaniwre, home to 135 people, mango is the main source of income. “We earn Rs 1 lakh annually from mangoes. This year, however, our earnings were down by half,” says Pawar.

On May 31, the sarpanch wrote to Ratnagiri district Collector Rajeev Jadhav, complaining about the encroachment and overextraction of groundwater from the project site, leading to water scarcity in Madban. Jadhav is yet to respond.

The owner of a plantation which is abutting the compound wall approached the Mumbai High Court last year. Bhikaji Wagdhare’s petition stated, “… homestead has been encroached post impuned clearance (environment clearance) issued and without following due process of law”. Before this, he had filed a complaint against NPCIL’s alleged encroachment in the Nate police station in Rajapur. “The police did not act. They said the case is not in their jurisdiction,” he says.

In its judgement, the court directed Wagdhare to approach the National Green Tribunal for the clearance-related complaint and local courts for relief against encroachment. “I suffer from paralysis. How can it be expected of me that I should follow all the local courts?” asks Wagdhare, who now resides in Mumbai’s eastern suburb of Bhandup.

Collector Jadhav admits that “survey number 119 is not included in the list of land parcels to be acquired”. He denies knowledge of any encroachment near the plant site. However, in a telephonic conversation, he added, “We have asked NPCIL not to go beyond its (boundary) limits.” When asked if any written order was sent to the corporation, he said, “Verbal communication is enough.”

Pawar rues, “We have lost our paddy fields to the plant site. If we lose mango plantations to the compound wall, survival would be difficult.”


 

Areva seeks help of French govt on cost sharing for Jaitapur project in Maharashtra


Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai  June 16, 2013 , BS

NPC insists that per unit tariff be equivalent to new coal based project during phase I commissioning

In a major breakthrough, Areva, which proposes to initially supply two evolutionary pressurized reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 MW each for Jaitapur nuclear project in Maharashtra, has sought the intervention of treasury officials of France government and banks to find a way out to address the issue of cost sharing. While the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Nuclear Power Corporation, which is a project developer, are emphasizing the need for higher level of indigenization or localization, the French reactor supplier Areva does not want to reduce its share on supply of reactors and components by admitting to increased burden.
Areva spelt out its move to refer cost sharing issue with treasury officials of the French government and lenders during its recent meeting held in France on June 5 & 6 with a high level Indian team consisted of Dr CBS Venkataraman, additional secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Preman Dinaraj, director (finance), Nuclear Power Corporation and Sandeep Singhroy, Jaitapur project director. This is also important when DAE and NPC want the Centre’s intervention to provide a special package to share increased cost burden.
When contacted Areva officials declined to make any comment.
However, NPC official, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard “Areva has indicated that capital cost per megawatt will be Rs 24-25 crore in the changed circumstances while we are insisting on Rs 12-14 crore. We are aware that Areva will not accept any compromise on its copyrights. However, we expect Areva to cooperate by accepting higher level of localization in order to reduce the capital cost. During the signing of inter governmental agreement between India and France in December 2010, NPC had projected the per unit tariff of Jaitapur project at the time of commissioning in 2017-18 will be equivalent to the per unit tariff of newly commissioned coal based power project in the country. This was estimated in the range of Rs 4 to 7 per unit depending on the nature of the boiler, turbine and generator used in new coal based power project in the country.”
NPC official admitted that the situation has changed as the cost escalation is quite imminent in view of the incorporation of additional safety applications necessitated after the safety review held globally following the Fukushima nuclear accident took place in Japan in March 2011.
NPC hoped that Areva’s move to seek the opinion of treasury officials of the company and lenders may give a necessary push for ongoing negotiations. It is also significant when Areva and NPC are unable to sign the commercial agreement for the Jaitapur project and resolve contentious issues with regard to India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, credit arrangements for the construction and the final cost of the Jaitapur project. The official informed that Areva has indicated that the commissioning of first phase can be possible in 2021 if all these issues are settled at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Jaitapur project opponents including Konkan Bachao Samiti have estimated a per unit megawatt cost of Rs 38 crore and the per unit tariff of Rs 14. According to them, the total project cost works out to be a whopping Rs 3,76,200 crore. However, NPC officials have said that the project cost will be finalized only after its talks with Areva are concluded.

 

An Open Letter to the Media houses in India!


English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

 

The Struggle Committee                                                                     June 16, 2013
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District
Dear friends:
Greetings! Please allow us to bring the following to your kind attention in the larger interests of our country, people and most importantly, our democracy and freedom. As the Fourth Pillar of our democracy, the media in India plays an important role in the smooth running of our country and the perpetuation of our democratic heritage.
We are sure that you have noticed the postponement of the commissioning of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) to July 2013 without giving any reasons or explanations. It is really so disappointing and upsetting why no print or visual media in our country asks the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) or its Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) about this. There has not been one single editorial in any Indian newspaper or an informed debate on any TV debate on the repeated postponement of the KKNPP commission since 2005. Don’t the people of India need to know the reasons behind this constant postponement and continued ducking and dodging by the prime minister, central ministers, chief minister, and nuclear officials?
We have been crying from the roof top that there has been massive corruption in the KKNPP and shoddy, substandard components and spares have been used in the project, but no mediahouse in India has shown any interest to probe this issue further. Most of the northern Indian mediahouses have not even shown any interest in the Koodankulam issue as if we were not part of India.
Although we cannot complain about the media coverage of our various struggles and campaigns here in Tamil Nadu both in the Tamil and the English media, a few irresponsible mediahouses have been portraying a very negative picture of our movement because of their connection with the nuclear industry, or their “higher caste” bias, or for cheap monetary gains. They go for sensationalism, profiteering, and unprincipled and unprofessional reporting. We would also like to point out that there have been good reports and analysis about the KKNPP issue but there is hardly any incisive inquiry into the commissions and omissions of the Indian nuclear industry in the larger media. Also many mediahouses in India tend to fall silent when power centers frown at them, or twist their arms.
As a result of the gross failure of the Fourth Pillar in our democracy, criminals wander about as leaders; ‘Merchants of Venice’ dominate the economic affairs; and all-knowing-scientists and engineers adopt an anti-people attitude in their mega-development projects. Consequently, there is rampant corruption, inefficiency, wastefulness, depression, inflation, regress, and overall moral decay all over the country.
Hence it is high time we undertook a thorough and comprehensive soul-search about the duties and responsibilities of the media in India. The Koodankulam struggle can be a cornerstone for undertaking this analysis.
We would earnestly request you to do a review of your own mediahouse’s policies and practices and see if you feel and write for the “ordinary citizens” of India or for the vested interests of our country and the world. We enclose a write-up pointing out the salient features of the crippled KKNPP that deserves national attention and nation-wide debate. If the Indian mediahouses fail to do this, all the Neo-East India Companies from the United States, Russia, France and everywhere else will come to dominate our socioeconomic-political affairs and enslave us all over again.
Looking forward to your careful consideration of our letter and favorable actions, we send you our best personal regards and all peaceful wishes,
Cordially,
S. P. Udayakumar       M. Pushparayan          F. Jayakumar               M. P. Jesuraj
Coordinator
R. S. Muhilan              Peter Milton                V. Rajalingam             Ms. S. Lidwin
Please allow us to bring the following dangerous developments, difficulties and discrepancies in the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP) to your kind consideration and request your immediate intervention to expose the irregularities and improprieties in the nuclear energy sector in India and save the people from massive disasters:
[1] Shoddy and Substandard Equipment from ZiO-Podolsk, Informtech Etc.
First and the most important of all, the KKNPP has been constructed with substandard equipment and parts supplied by ZiO-Podolsk, an engineering subsidiary of the Russian company Rosatom. The company’s official website has declared unequivocally: “Over the past few years ZiO produced and implemented a set of equipment for foreign nuclear power plants with VVER-1000: Tianwan (China), Busher (Iran), Kudankulam (India)” (http://aozio.ru/production/ob-atom/). ZiO-Podolsk began shipping shoddy equipment in 2007 or perhaps even earlier. In February 2012, the procurement director, Mr. Sergei Shutov, was arrested for buying low quality and cheap raw material, passing it off as more expensive grade and pocketing the difference. The Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, has been investigating the case that has serious implications for the safety of nuclear power plants built by Russia.
During July 15-18, 2012, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) delegation that included Special Secretary Mr. A. P. Joshi, Deputy Secretary Mr. Ninian Kumar and the Manager of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Mr. Dzhogesh Pady visited ZiO-Podolsk and discussed a range of issues related to the preparation for the launch of KKNPP-1, the progress of the KKNPP-2 etc. and signed a number of contracts relating to the implementation of the current phase of the KKNPP. (AtomEnergoMash, Posted 19.07.2012).
However, when we asked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) under RTI on January 28, 2013 for “a list of those equipment and parts that have been supplied by Zio-Podolsk to the KKNPP units,” the NPCIL replied tersely on February 20, 2013 (No. NPCIL/VSB/CPIO/2460/HQ/2013/371): “No Information regarding any investigation against Zio-Podolsk is available to NPCIL.” It is a gross untruth and deception because the top DAE officials had just visited the ZiO-Podolsk and they must have followed up the developments. The NPCIL is hiding serious and important information from the Indian public and misleading the entire nation possibly to protect some Russian and Indian middlemen and profiteers.
When we asked the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on January 28, 2013 for “a list of those equipment and parts that have been supplied by Zio-Podolsk to the KKNPP units” they responded on February 12, 2013 (No. AERB/RSD/RTI/Appl. No. 329/2013/2421) very evasively: “Selection of a company for supplying any equipment to NPCIL, is not under the purview of AERB. However, with respect to Quality Assurance (QA) during design, construction, commissioning and operation, a set of well established AERB documents on QA Codes and Guides are published and they were followed during the safety review of KKNPP.”
Later the NPCIL confirmed officially (in its letter No. NPCIL/VSB/CPIO/2574/KKNPP/2013/737 dated April 29, 2013) that the controversial and corruption-ridden M/S ZiO Podolsk has supplied the following equipment and parts to the KKNPP: “Steam Generators, Cation and anion filters, Mechanical Filter, Moisture Separator and Reheater, Boric solution storage tanks, Regenerative blow down heat exchanger, Pipelines and fittings of different systems, Insulation materials, PHRS Heat exchanger.” In other words, the Koodankulam project in its entirety is unsafe and dangerous.
Another Russian court has convicted one Mr. Alexander Murach, Director of another notorious Russian company, Informtech, for fraud and sentenced him to three years in prison for selling counterfeit measuring equipment for nuclear and hydro power plants’ turbines. The NPCIL has just confirmed in its letter dated May 24, 2013 (No. NPCIL/VSB/CPIO/2670/HQ/2013/884) that they have received “Communication equipment” from Informtech.
Some ten Czech and Slovak companies have also supplied valves, pumps and cables to the Koodankulam project. Leoš Tomíček, Executive Vice-president of Rusatom Overseas says: “We already work with Czechs today. For example, for two blocks of the Indian Koodankulam nuclear power plant, nine Czech companies supplied us with valves, pumps, cables and other equipment worth 58 million dollars.” There have been many cable-related accidents and deaths at the KKNPP. T. S. Subramanian says in a 2009 article: “Cabling is under way in the state-of-the-art control room for Unit-1, which is akin to an aircraft’s cockpit. M.I. Joy, Additional Chief Engineer (Site Planning), KKNPP, said, “Once the cabling is completed, the entire control of the plant, including the reactor and turbine, will be done from the control room.” The plant’s control room is humidity-controlled. “The atmosphere is so pure here that the cables will not be spoiled,” said Joy.
(http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=flonnet&rdurl=fl2616/stories/20090814261612). It is this “so pure” atmosphere that has killed six workers in the past three months in electrocution accidents. The quality of the Czech cables and the checkered electrical work, and the role of Mr. M. I. Joy in all these are important questions must be looked into.
Since shoddy and substandard equipment and parts in a massive nuclear power park pose enormous dangers of epic proportion to millions and millions of innocent people in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and elsewhere, this issue has to be thoroughly and comprehensively probed in collaboration with the officials of Rosatom, Atomstroyexport, Federal Security Service (FSB) and most importantly, with independent nuclear experts in India.
[2] The Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) Lies!
Izhorskiye Zavody, which is part of United Machinery Plants (OMZ) holding, signed a contract with India for the construction of two nuclear reactor bodies for Kudankulam’s station in 2002. They shipped a new nuclear reactor body that would be the first power unit of India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant to the city’s sea port. Yevgeny Sergeyev, general director of Izhorskiye Zavody, said at a ceremony sending off the reactor: “We were so sure of our partners that we started to produce the first reactor bodies four months before the official contract was signed.” Sergeyev said the reactor was completed six months before deadline (The St Petersburg Times, 19 November 2004,http://sptimes.ru/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=2135).
The Koodankulam reactor pressure vessel (RPV) arrived at the Tuticorin Port in January 2004. The first unit of the power plant was expected to be synchronized in December 2007, and the second unit by December 2008. Mr. S. K. Aggarwal, the then project director said: “The project officials have targeted to complete the works for synchronisation of both the units in March and September 2007 respectively.”
The Russian Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision, Rostekhnadzor, claimed in 2009: “The main causes of violations in the NPP construction works are insufficient qualifications, and the personnel’s meagre (sic) knowledge of federal norms and rules, design documentation, and of the technological processes of equipment manufacturing. In particular, the top management of Izhorskiye Zavody have been advised of the low quality of the enterprise’s products and have been warned that sanctions might be enforced, up to suspending the enterprise’s equipment production licence”
(http://www.gosnadzor.ru/osnovnaya_deyatelnost_slujby/otcheti-o-deyatelnosti-sluzhbi-godovie/). Unlike the original design of the Koodankulam RPVs, the erected ones have beltline welds, questionable quality and corruption charges.
[3] Fiddling with the Reactor Design and Doing an Unauthorized Refit
When the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)’s dialogue with the Central Government’s Expert Group got aborted due to the violent attack on us by some anti-social elements, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister appointed a team of four members to study the KKNPP issue. When that group included Dr. M. R. Srinivasan, the former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), we objected to his inclusion in the team. However, he continued to be part of the team and we did have a dialogue with the team on February 19, 2012 in Tirunelveli.
During our interaction that was held in the presence of the Tirunelveli District Collector and other officials, Dr. Srinivasan never mentioned once that the DAE had made changes in the core of the reactor. It is also not revealed to the public until now if he and the team included this unauthorized fiddling in the report they submitted to the CM. However, Dr. Srinivasan has publicly acknowledged now: “We sought an additional safety mechanism well before the Fukushima disaster. The safety mechanism consists of valves. The original reactor design had to be altered and I feel this is the basic cause for delay.” According to him, the valves were designed partially in India and Russia and compatibility with the reactor led to some hiccups (http://newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/article1517314.ece).
After fiddling with the original design of the KKNPP reactors, the Indian authorities went back and did an unauthorized “refit” without revealing the details to anyone. All these things point out the inherent deficiencies of the Russian reactors, their vulnerability due to all the fiddling, and their untrustworthiness after the refit. Since this matter has to do with the lives and sustenance of millions and millions of people, all the relevant details must be made public.
[4] Blaming the Protests for Atomic Inefficiency and Inept Engineering
The Russian and the Indian nuclear authorities are hiding their corruption, wastefulness and inefficiency by conveniently blaming the struggling people for all the delay and cost overrun. The Indian Express newspaper asserts that the “delay is on the supply side from Russia as a whole lot of components have been replaced, some of which had to be shipped in.” The KKNPP sources have also confessed that the “containment vessel of the nuclear core too has been changed since the old one had sprung a leak, which was detected three months ago during testing” (http://newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/article1517314.ece).
The KKNPP authorities claim that “most components meant for Unit-II that were already in the warehouse were used as replacements for Unit-I.” It is not clear why they were kept in the warehouse since Unit 2 was also being concurrently constructed along with Unit 1. The nuclear authorities are hiding the plain truth that Unit 1 is a complete failure and hence they are trying to revive it with the parts of Unit 2. Nobody knows the total loss that India has suffered because of all these shifting and shuffling.
The Srinivasan-confessed “refit” of KKNPP-1 is being blamed on its “idling for months together because of a major agitation plus litigation in the Supreme Court.” This is an outrageous falsehood! Even when our agitation was going on between September 2011 and March 2012, regular and full-swing maintenance work was going on at the Koodankulam plant on a daily basis. When the Tamil Nadu government changed its stand on our agitation on March 19, 2012 and pushed us to the village of Idinthakarai, the Site Director of KKNPP Reactors I and II, Mr. R.S. Sundar, said the “water chemistry” of the water being used in the coolant was encouraging as proper maintenance had been carried out with skeletal staff during the protests (P. Sudhakar, “Croatian experts to inspect the condition of equipment,” The Hindu, March 23, 2012).
Mr. S. T. Arasu, Senior Maintenance Engineer at KKNPP said: “We have operated all the pumps to measure the vibration level, which is less than the desirable baseline data and it shows the quality of our skilled workforce. Though this section could not be given complete attention during the past five-and-a-half months, the equipment are functioning in an amazing fashion” (P. Sudhakar, “Employees at Kudankulam project site a charged lot,” The Hindu, March 24, 2012).
Mr. Yevgeniy N. Dudkin, the head of the Russian Specialists Group, said that none of the Russian specialists of Atomstroyexport had left the project site during the protests. He pointed out that some additional works needed to be done and said, “It is not a huge work.” (P. Sudhakar and S. Sundar, “Primary coolant pumps to undergo another trial,” The Hindu, March 29, 2012.)
Similarly, when the Supreme Court began its hearing on a batch of petitions in September 2012, they refused to give a ‘stay’ to halt the ongoing work at KKNPP and allowed the authorities to continue with their work. Accordingly, the AERB allowed fuel loading in September 2012 dismissing the feelings and sentiments of millions of struggling people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Now the Supreme Court has given a green signal to run the project subject to 15 stringent recommendations.
But the KKNPP, NPCIL, AERB, and the DAE officials are conveniently blaming their inordinate delay in commissioning the KKNPP-1 on the “corrosion and leakage since sea water was used as the coolant.” If the pipes leak and corrode within such a short time, the government should order a probe into the quality of these pipes, the quality of the various equipment and spares that were sent by the Russians. If these pipes and parts cannot withstand one year of sea water circulation, how are they going to function safely for 40-60 years?
[5] Mounting Costs and Massive Corruption
Every single deal that India has signed with Russia has proved to be a disaster and big loss for India. The INS Vikramaditya/Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier has been delayed by five years with the final cost hovering in the $2.9 billion range. The time overrun and cost escalation also plagues another mega Indo-Russian defense deal of upgrading MiG-29 fighter planes. The KKNPP is yet another disaster.
The approved cost of the KKNPP 1 & 2 project is Rs. 13,171 crores. But the DAE and the NPCIL claim that they have spent an additional amount of Rs. 4,000 crores on the non-performing project. Nobody knows the exact end cost of the KKNPP or the breakdown of the final amount. The former AERB Chief, Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, has claimed that the decision to import 40,000 MW capacity Light Water Reactors (LWRs) in early 2006 was taken without any techno-economic evaluation by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) or any other agency. According to Dr. Gopalakrishnan, “The decisions, price negotiations and supply terms are being negotiated by the UPA- 2 government in haste, with the intention of fulfilling the PM’s commitments to these foreign governments and their companies before he demits office. .The decision was merely a quid-pro-quo to give business to the reactor manufacturers in those countries which helped India get a Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) waiver” (DNA, February 16, 2013).
The Russian nuclear company, Atomstroyexport, has just released its financial statement for the year 2011. The company claims that losses in 2011 were twice bigger than the losses of 2010, and that the company is on the brink of bankruptcy. This has seriously affected the Russian nuclear projects at Koodankulam in India and Busher in Iran <http://www.interfax.ru/business/txt.asp?id=283928>. We wonder if the Indian government is secretly helping the Russian company with its losses and bankruptcy.
The NPCIL authorities have claimed that the Rs.4,000 crores cost overrun at Koodankulam is due to the “increase in interest during construction (IDC), escalation on works, contractor’s overheads and establishment charges” (RTI reply dated February 20, 2013). It is pertinent to note that the Russian government is not making such financial compensation to India for all the delay and cost overrun in all of the above projects.
Instead of explaining these mounting costs and massive irregularities, the Russian Ambassador to India Mr. Alexander Kadakin simply misleads Indians by unnecessary and unacceptable comments on our internal affairs. We wonder if the Indian nuclear establishment is secretly helping the Russian company with its losses and bankruptcy.  We wonder if the Koodankulam financial irregularities involve both Indian and Russian nuclearocrats, diplomats and politicians.
[6] Commissioning the KKNPP Every 15 Days
Instead of reporting to the citizens of India inside India about the largest and imported nuclear power park at Koodankulam, the Prime Minister of India goes to South Africa and reassures the President of Russia of its commissioning process (no pun intended). When the Prime Minister had announced in Moscow that the KKNPP would be commissioned “in a couple of weeks” on December 15, 2011, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister expressed her dissent and displeasure immediately.
The calendar for commissioning of KKNPP-1 has been shifted some 20 times in the past one year by politicians, bureaucrats and the nuclear authorities. In fact, this “commission dating” process has been going on from 2005 onwards and the Union Minister of State, Mr. V. Narayanasamy has set a record of sorts for himself in this calculated and irresponsible misinformation campaign. All these people have been lyingto the nation repeatedly and recklessly and hence we cannot trust these authorities with our and our families’ safety and well-being. If there is any truth and decorum in public life in India, all these officials should resign from their respective posts.
[7] No Information, No Liability, No Pollution Safeguard
The Government of India and the DAE have not shared any basic information with us about the KKNPP. Even after the Central Information Commission (CIC) has instructed them, they have not shared the Site Evaluation Report (SER) and the Safety Analysis Report (SAR) with us. They have not heard our opinions or allayed our fears and concerns about the lack of fresh water resources, the changes in the design of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV), the management of liquid and solid waste and so on.
Neither have the Indian nuclear authorities got any liability from the Russian government and/or companies for KKNPP 1 and 2. The Government of India is not even willing to share the secretive Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) that they signed with the Russian government in 2008. Even as we are dealing with KKNPP 1 and 2, the Government of India is announcing the agreement on KKNPP 3 and 4 with utter disregard for the sentiments of the local people and the people of Tamil Nadu as a whole.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has also given consent to discharge enormous amounts of sewage, trade effluent, desalination plant effluent, demineralization effluent, steam generator effluent, suspended solids, dissolved solids, and many other waste products into the sea. The TNPCB fixed the temperature of the effluents at the discharge point as 45 degrees and later summarily reduced it to 36 or 37 degrees. They have also allowed the KKNPP to release significant amounts of Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, particulate matters and many other harmful radioactive pollutants into the air. Nobody seems to bother about the impact of all these on the sea, sea food, crops, dairy, food security, nutrition, health and wellbeing of us, our children and grandchildren.
Furthermore, it is revealed now that the NPCIL does not hold valid and legitimate clearances for all the various buildings and installations in the KKNPP from the Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 2011.
[8] The Tamils Get Elegy and the Others Get Energy!
Even though the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has written to the Prime Minister on March 31, April 25 and August 19, 2012, demanding all the power from the KKNPP to Tamil Nadu, the Prime Minister or his PMO never even acknowledged those letters. Earlier the CM had demanded more power from the Central Pool and financial help for various power generation schemes, but the UPA government always ignored her genuine requests and earnest efforts.
If this is the way the UPA government treats the Chief Minister of an important State and popular leader of millions of Tamil people, one can possibly imagine the feelings and attitude they may have towards the poorest of the poor who have been struggling on our own for almost two years now. The Congress Party and the UPA government seem to have scant regards for the Tamil fishermen, Tamil women, and the Tamil people as a whole.
It is also strange that our neighboring states would not share the Nature-given river waters with us but we, the Tamil people, have to suffer nuclear waste, thermal pollution, saline refuse, and most importantly, nuclear radiation and give them all risk-free electricity. It is quite preposterous that the Congress government in Kerala stakes a claim for 500 MW from the KKNPP; in fact, the Congress governments in Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram can together decide to set up a few nuclear power plants somewhere in Kerala. The intelligent and Nature-loving people of Kerala would never allow that and the political parties there, whether Congress or Communists or BJP or others, would never let that happen also.
Given the above situation, may we request you to demand an inquiry into the construction, equipment, overall quality, performance and the viability of the entire Koodankulam nuclear power project; removal of the fuel rods from the core of the Unit 1 reactor; conversion of the KKNPP into a pro-people and Nature-friendly Model New Energy Park; bringing about renewable energy projects all over our country; rectifying the transmission and distribution issues, and protecting the interests and well-being of the Tamil people and our progeny please.
If we let this shoddy, substandard, unsafe, and corruption-ridden nuclear power project to go critical and fail in our collective historic duty to protect our people, preserve our Natural resources and prop up the interests of newborn and unborn generations of India, we all will be held responsible and answerable for all the upcoming calamities and uncalculable harms to our people.

 

 

 

 

#India -Village falls within Jaitapur nuclear reactor’s 2-km danger zone #WTFnews


Nitin Ghanekar reports in  Hindustan times, June 10, 2013

Since we are so close to the plant, we fear that we might be displaced.
SACHIN WAGH DHARE, a Dhanivare resident

JAITAPUR/MUMBAI: Residents of Dhanivare village are a worried lot. Given the proximity of their hamlet to the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant site (JNPP), the village falls in a range of 0 to 2 km distance from the plant, which makes it a part of the plant’s exclusion zone.

A nuclear plant is supposed to have an exclusion zone of 1.6 km around the nuclear reactors, making this area uninhabitable. That the JNPP site can be accessed from Dhanivare village on foot within five minutes makes the hamlet’s proximity to the site clear. But the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) seems to have forgotten this tiny hamlet when claiming that that no house would be displaced while creating the exclusion zone.

When HT contacted additional chief engineer of JNPP SG Galgali, and asked him about the fate of Dhanivare, he said, “The nuclear reactors at JNPP would be located along the shore in a northsouth direction near the Rajapur bay lighthouse. They would be located in such a way that no village falls in the 1.6kms exclusion zone.”

However, a report from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) states otherwise. Recently, under the Right to Information Act, Mumbai residents Premanand Tivarkar and Dr Bhikaji Waghdhare obtained a site selection committee report dated September 2002. The report detailing the population in villages around the Jaitapur site says, “Dhanivade, a hamlet of Madban, falls within the 1.6 km exclusion zone and has an estimated population of 135.”

Galgali said, “The report might have stated that the hamlet is in the exclusion zone, but the positioning of the plant will not displace its residents.”

Residents of Dhanivare said that the NPCIL’s attempts to encroach on their mango orchards might be their way of pressurising them to relocate. “We never received any notices from NPCIL regarding land acquisition or any exclusion zone. As we are so close to the plant, we fear we might be displaced,” said Sachin Waghdhare, a resident of Dhanivare.

N-plant encroaching on our orchards’

Boundary wall built by NPCIL for Jaitapur power plant passes through mango groves that are a source of livelihood for an entire village

JAITAPUR/MUMBAI: Even as French nuclear giant Areva, officials from Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) met to work out a financial package that would fund two 1,650 megawatt reactors at Jaitapur, residents of Dhanivare village near the plant site have alleged that there is a quiet attempt by NPCIL to encroach on village land not marked for acquisition.

Dhanivare is a hamlet of less than 200 people located within a 2-kilometre distance from the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant (JNPP). The residents of the village, many of who own mango orchards, have alleged that NPCIL and their sub-contractors have been trespassing on their land — marked as ‘survey no. 119’ — and are trying to encroach on it to build an unfinished boundary wall outside the plant site. This has allegedly been going on for over two years.

Survey no. 119 was not a part of the land acquired by the Ratnagiri district administration for JNPP. It did not feature in the list of notified lands to be acquired for JNPP, published by the Konkan administrative division in the Ratnagiri edition of Tarun Bharat newspaper on January 10, 2007. Current district collector Rajeev Jadhav also attested to this. The land in question is home to around 500 mango trees that serve as a source of livelihood for Dhanivare residents.

Recent developments in the area are contrary to NPCIL’s claims that villagers’ livelihood would not be snatched away due to the project.

Though the issue dates back over two years, a fortnight ago, residents said that NPCIL officials arrived at the land in question with a bulldozer and civil supplies in an effort to continue work on the incomplete wall. “There was a wedding in the hamlet so many of us were away. When we returned to our orchards, we saw that a few people had entered our property and were trying to carry out civil work. We protested and drove them away,” said Sachin Waghdhare, a resident of Dhanivare who owns close to 150 mango trees and earns between Rs50,000 and Rs1,00,000 from it annually. Even before this, villagers found paint markings running across orchards, starting from the unfinished wall, right up to the pathway to orchards. “The paint markings indicated that they (NPCIL) want to encroach into our villages. If this happens, all of us would lose our livelihoods,” he added.

Bhikaji Waghdhare, the sarpanch of Madban gram panchayat, of which Dhanivare is a part, sent a letter on May 31 informing the district collector about the markings and tree felling. When HT contacted Ratnagiri collector Rajeev Jadhav, he said, “I have not yet seen such a letter, but if NPCIL is encroaching on land not meant to be acquired for JNPP, we will follow the rule of law to take action.”

Villagers claim the issue dates back to December 2010, when the NPCIL started construction of a wall that was to pass through the mango orchards. Back then, villagers had protested against NPCIL’s activities and had even sent a complaint to the then collector of Ratnagiri and to the Sakhari Nate police station, alerting them about this issue. Through sustained protests they managed to stop the construction. Later, in 2011, Mumbai resident Dr Bhikaji Waghdhare, 74, a native of Madban, filed a writ petition in the Bombay high court. The court had found the petition to be substantive but asked Dr Waghdhare to pursue the case at the local district court in Ratnagiri. Owing to ill-health, Dr Waghdhare did not pursue the case. He owns 0.60 hectares of land that bears 160 mango trees, 40 toddy palm trees and one well. “I sought survey maps under right to information (RTI) act and they indicate that the area where NPCIL is trying to carry out work is survey no. 119,” said Dr Waghdhare. HT is in possession of those maps. Besides, in a reply to an RTI application filed by Mumbai resident Premanand Tiwarkar, NPCIL admitted, that survey no. 119 was not acquired for JNPP.

HT mailed a detailed questionnaire to NPCIL, sent text messages to officials and also tried to contact senior officials to seek their response, but there was no reply.

Don’t fund Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant , locals urge European banks


Friday, Jun 7, 2013, 6:47 IST | Agency: DNA

Protesters at the proposed site for a nuclear plant at Jaitapur sent an e-mail to the three main bankers — BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole in France — on Tuesday, requesting the CEOs not to fund the project.

They have intensified their cause to save the environment from effects of radioactivity.

Indian government officials are set to meet French and other European investors over the week in Paris to discuss funding opportunities for the nuclear project.

Sources said about 1,000 people gathered around the proposed nuclear site on Tuesday at Jaitapur after learning that officials were going to negotiate the financial aspect of the proposed project with with French as well as other European bankers.

“They were riled by the news that Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Department of Atomic Energy officials were going to Paris to discuss financing of the project with French bankers. Slogans were raised against NPCIL, Areva and the French bankers,” a source told dna.

Amjad Borkar, an activist from the fishermen’s community, said: “The project will destroy marine life and make fishermen destitute.”

The e-mail to the bankers stated: “NPCIL and the Government of India officials are making wrong representations, concealing the ground information and distorting the facts and are trying their best to convince you to finance the mega project.”

Activists Premanand Tevedkar and Mansoor Solkar said that despite an increase in compensation, the farmers were not going to give up their land. “Protesters said they would lay down their lives but not give up their land and right to livelihood,” he added.

The e-mail was sent by the villagers, farmers and fisherfolk of Jaitapur, Madban, Sakhari Nate, Mithgavane, Niveli, Karel and all the surrounding villages situated near the site.

“We will never allow anybody to contaminate our ancestral land and sea, marine as well as land of the Konkan coast with nuclear energy. It’s our right to life and livelihood and we will not give these up at any cost,” said the e-mail to the bankers.

 

Kudankulam nuclear power plant : the unsettled queries


First Published: Wed, Jun 05 2013. livemint
On 6 May, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking to halt the commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear reactors in Tamil Nadu till the implementation of key additional safety measures recommended after the catastrophic Fukushima accident of 2011. The court’s argument was that the project is “part of the national policy” and it “is not for courts to determine whether a particular policy or a particular decision taken in fulfilment of a policy, is fair”. Regardless of one’s opinion about that assertion, what is disturbing about the judgement is that it ventured well beyond its brief and commented on areas that were outside its provenance.
The first set of comments relate to the idea that nuclear power is “an important element in India’s energy mix” and that the risks involved are justified by the benefits. For a source that constitutes 2.3% of India’s electricity generation capacity to be described as important is, of course, questionable. More to the point, this endorsement of nuclear power is at odds with the larger argument about courts not taking a stance on policies. If the apex court cannot weigh in on a policy decision, it’s in an even worse position to decide on India’s energy mix or if the expenditure so far justifies people having “to put up” with “minor inconveniences”, “minor radiological detriments” and “minor environmental detriments”.
In a second set of comments based on various documents and safety codes laid out by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the court “notice(d) that adequate and effective protection measures are in place”. The problem here is that the court’s confidence in the effectiveness of protection measures does not comport well with the actual performance of AERB, in particular its lack of independence and its inability, and perhaps its unwillingness, to force the Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd (NPCIL) to undertake stringent safety measures. The government’s efforts at constituting the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA), to “preserve the functional independence of the regulatory board”, is indicative of the problems with the setup.
The most pertinent illustration of AERB’s weaknesses is its actions on Kudankulam. Even though AERB committee set up following Fukushima “to review the safety of Indian NPPs (nuclear power plants) against external events of natural origin” came out with some sensible safety recommendations, when push came to shove, AERB permitted loading of fuel even though these recommendations had not been fully implemented in Kudankulam. None other than a former chairperson of AERB, A. Gopalakrishnan, has termed this decision “a total volte-face…and contrary to the spirit and recommendations of AERB post-Fukushima safety evaluation committee”. By endorsing NPCIL and AERB’s decisions, albeit with conditions, the apex court’s judgement might further entrench the lacunae in NPCIL’s safety culture (see the description in my recent book The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India).
Inexplicably, the court’s decision makes no mention of a devastating report from last year by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, the body mandated to “promote accountability, transparency and good governance”, on the subordinate legal status of AERB and its multiple failings to ensure safety of nuclear installations in the country. CAG observed that AERB had no effective independence from the department of atomic energy (DAE). Of the 3,200 recommendations by AERB’s safety review committee for operating plants, DAE and related organizations had not complied with 375, with 137 recommendations from 2004 or earlier.
The reliance on just the nuclear establishment’s testimony demonstrates myopia regarding a very basic matter—the lack of trust regarding AERB. The situation for any regulatory agency is like that of Pompeia, Julius Caesar’s wife, of whom, Caesar is supposed to have said, “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”. Public suspicion about AERB and its lack of independence is justifiably high. At least until the regulatory structure is completely overhauled, the court’s call for “safety standards in which public can have full confidence” cannot be fulfilled.
The chances of such a major overhaul are, unfortunately, slim. The proposed fix—replacing AERB with a new NSRA—won’t work. As currently envisioned, many of the key processes involving NSRA’s appointment, policy setting and budgetary allocation will continue to be controlled, in effect, by the Atomic Energy Commission. As CAG observed last year, the “fact that the chairman, AEC and the secretary, DAE are one and the same…negates the very essence of institutional separation of regulatory and non-regulatory functions”. Further, there is little nuclear expertise outside the DAE parivar to constitute an independent NSRA. Developing such expertise requires a decade or two of deliberate effort, which is so far missing.
For the reasons mentioned above and many more, the court’s decision cannot settle the contentious dispute over Kudankulam, or the larger questions about the expansion of nuclear energy in the country. That is still a matter for democratic debate. And all the familiar problems with nuclear energy—including high costs, susceptibility to catastrophic accidents, and the unsolved problem of dealing with radioactive waste—should play a role in that debate.

M.V. Ramana is with the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

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M. V. Ramana
The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India

 

Paris – Secret meeting for Jaitapur Reactors continues despite protests in India #WTFnews


 

PARIS, June 5, 2013

Investors’ meet on for underwriting package for Jaitapur reactors even as protests continue

 Vaiju Naravane
 A crucial investors’ meeting to underwrite the financial package for two 1,650 megawatt Areva EPR reactors to be built in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, got under way here with a top four-man team from India, including officials from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). Senior executives from Areva, the French nuclear giant, several banks and government agencies are also attending the meeting.

The meeting coincides with large-scale protests in Maharashtra against plans to build the two giant nuclear reactors. Hundreds of local farmers have signed petitions saying they do not wish to have their lands requisitioned or the giant reactors to be located close to where they live. Non-governmental organisations fighting plans to build the reactors say the project is located on a seismic site.

The Indian team in Paris is made up of four officials. C.B.S. Venkataraman, Additional Secretary and Niranjan Kumar, Deputy Secretary are from the DAE, while Preman Dinaraj (Financial Director) and Sandeep Singhroy (Director Jaitapur project) are from the NPCIL.

Soaring costs a concern

There have been serious concerns in India over the soaring costs of these reactors. Initially, India is expected to finalise an agreement for the purchase of two EPRs. This is expected to go up to six such reactors. The main sticking points in the discussions so far have been the cost of energy to India per kW/hour coupled with security concerns following the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan. Areva had initially promised India that energy from the reactors would not cost more that Rs. 4 per kW/h. But since the cost of each reactor has gone up from 3.3 billion Euros to 8.5 billion Euros, it would be a miracle if Areva is able to keep the cost of energy within the original framework.

Anne Lauvergeon, former chief of Areva, had told The Hindu in an interview two years ago that the “four rupee target” would be “maintained at all cost”. But the French have been unable to manage costs within their own country. The only EPR currently under construction in France at Flamanville has had massive cost overruns and is five years behind schedule. However, the two EPRs being built at Taishan in China are said to be going ahead at a terrific pace, being built to cost and to schedule.

“Since the reactors will be built by the NPCIL, the cost factor will definitely be lower in India, perhaps even 30 per cent lower than it is in France. There is, however, cause for worry and the talks in Paris will focus on reducing costs to a minimum without sacrificing safety or quality,” a well placed source close to the talks told this correspondent in Paris.

Members of the Konkan Bachao Samiti said that according to their calculations, the unit cost per kilowatt/ hour will be Rs. 14 per unit. The exact cost of each EPR in India has not been disclosed.

“Three important factors”

“There are three important factors in determining the price of a kilowatt/hour of nuclear electricity. The first is the cost of building the plant. The second element is the cost of borrowing the money. What rate of interest will India have to pay? The third element is the capacity at which the plant runs. If it fails to run at 100 per cent capacity, the costs inevitably go up,” Steve Thomas, a specialist on nuclear energy at Greenwich University’s School of Business told The Hindu.

None of these issues have been properly outlined to the public and no figures have been have been released either by the DAE or the NPCIL, which has angered opponents of the project. The project will supposedly have a 70:30 debt equity ratio.

Members of the Konkan Bachao Samiti said the meeting under way in Paris was kept secret to prevent demonstrations in India. However, word of the meeting leaked out. In a letter to French bankers, the Konkan Bachao Samiti said: “NPCIL and government of India officials are making wrong representations, concealing the ground information, twisting and distorting the facts and are trying their level best to delude you [investors], in order to make you agreeable and secure loan finance for this mega disaster project.”