#MadrasHC- issues notice for withdrawal of cases against anti-nuclear activists


Chennai, June 18, 2013

PTI

 The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered issue of notice to Tamil Nadu Government asking why steps were not taken to withdraw cases filed against anti-nuclear activists protesting against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.

First Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Kumar Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, ordered notice to the state government and sought reply within three weeks.

The notice was issued on a petition which sought a direction to the state government to withdraw all criminal cases filed against anti-nuclear activists, who have been protesting against the Indo-Russian project in Tirunelveli District.

The petition referred to the Supreme Court’s direction to the state government to withdraw all criminal cases against the protestors.

 

NEWS FLASH- 1000s Arrested in Kalpakkam anti-nuke protests: Tamil Nadu


LATEST UPDATE

BY  nityanand jayaraman


Kalpakkam Protests; Kalpakkam Arrests

G. Sundar Rajan, a friend and co-activist, is currently travelling to Singaperumal Koil in Kanchipuram District to meet Abdul Samad — one of the organisers of the resistance to the expansion of nuclear capacity in Kalpakkam nuclear park. Samad is one of nearly 2000 people who have been detained in about six different locations for organising a hunger strike and blockade of the Kalpakkam nuclear complex. Villagers living in the areas surrounding the Madras Atomic Power Station are protesting against the expansion of the nuclear complex, and have said that they will not tolerate the addition of any new facilities in Kalpakkam. A 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor has been under construction for nearly a decade, and villagers have said that this plant must be abandoned. They have also condemned the dumping of radioactive waste within the premises. Additionally, they have demanded that the entire share of electricity produced at the MAPS complex should be distributed to nearby villages. They pointed out that it is vulgar that the local villages suffer 10 hour shortages while Kalpakkam township, more than 10 kilometres away enjoys 24-hour electricity.

 

 

India has led the arms race in South Asia


Dr M.V. Ramana is a nuclear physicist who works in Nuclear Futures Laboratory and Programme on Science and Global Security, both at Princeton University. Author of several books on nuclear energy, Ramana recently published The Power of Promise: Explaining Nuclear Energy in India. Excerpts from an interview with

RASHME SEHGAL

Q: Have we in the sub-continent become prisoners of the nuclear dream? Would you say the sustained agitation in Jaitapur and Kudankulam has helped introduce a sharp degree of scepticism around India’s nuclear programme.
A: I think that the nuclear dream is not new and has existed in some form or the other for decades. However, the sustained protest movements in Jaitapur and especially Kudankulam has raised important questions about the social costs of a nuclear expansion.

Q: Can India afford a rapid increase in nuclear energy given the rising costs and also its safety record?
A: The high costs of imported nuclear reactors as well as fast breeder reactors, which constitute the second stage of the three stage programme, imply that a large scale expansion of nuclear power will be incredibly expensive, and unaffordable. For example, the cost of the six proposed EPR reactors at the Jaitapur site is expected to be upwards of `3 lakh crores. The inherent hazards associated with nuclear reactors and deficiencies in the safety culture of the nuclear establishment imply that there is a significant risk associated with each new reactor operated. Thus, the more the number of reactors, the more the risk of a catastrophic accident.

Q: Why is so little known about DAE’s accident record and why is there a veil of secrecy around its programmes?
A: There is some secrecy associated with the nuclear programme, but I think it primarily affects discussions about performance and costs. I have detailed several instances of such secrecy in my book. In terms of the accident record, I think the greater reason for the lack of awareness of the safety hazards is the constant propaganda that DAE officials engage in. They have repeatedly claimed that there is simply no chance of an accident at any nuclear reactor in India. Even though that claim is scientifically not tenable, by being repeated frequently, it creates the impression that all is well.

Q: Again, the problem of disposing of nuclear waste has not been discussed publicly by the DAE?
A: In its public discussions, the DAE has never acknowledged that nuclear waste disposal could be a problem. Its standard response when the question is raised is that they do not consider spent fuel as waste but “a resource to extract plutonium from”. Moreover, they state that reprocessing of spent fuel and vitrification of high level waste is a solution to the whole problem of radioactive spent fuel. But vitrification only helps with storing the high level waste rather than destroying any radioactivity which also has to be disposed off. Reprocessing has various problems associated with it, including the release of low-level radioactive waste into the environment.

Q: India has declining coal and gas energy while the cost of installing renewables is also on the rise. Nuclear energy has been projected a reliable and steady source of energy for an energy-starved nation?
A: Actually the cost of electricity from renewables has been decreasing, and their contribution to electricity generation in India, as well as a number of other countries, has been increasing relatively rapidly, albeit from a small base. Nuclear energy can be described as a steady source, but only in the sense that its share of total energy generation has remained fairly consistent at around 2 to 3 per cent for a couple of decades. Even if it expands, remember that all other sources of electricity generation are also expanding. Therefore, nuclear power is unlikely to become a major source of electricity generation in India for decades.
Q: If, as our book has made out, nuclear energy is risk-prone and uneconomical, why was an economist politician like Manmohan Singh willing to risk the survival of his government to push the Indo-US nuclear deal ?
A: I don’t think Manmohan Singh was acting like a hard-nosed economist in pursuing the US-India deal. Instead, his greatest emphasis seems to be on building a sense of trust and credibility with the United States. The importance of this characteristic to the United States is explained by physicist Suvrat Raju thus: “Credible governments are those that do not allow domestic political compulsions to prevent them from adhering to American interests”. Thus, he is still pursuing the idea of importing a number of nuclear reactors, even though they are expensive and untested, without subjecting them to public scrutiny.

Q: Your earlier book Bombing Bombay talked about the enormous loss of life that would entail if Bombay was bombed by a nuclear device? Can such a scenario unfold, given that Pakistan is building up its stockpile?
A: Yes, of course, there is always that risk. While I don’t condone Pakistan’s building up of its fissile material, one must remember that the India has led the arms race in south Asia, and has made various choices that allow Pakistani hawks to make arguments for increasing their fissile material production. Specifically, during the course of the negotiations of the US-India nuclear deal, India got away with keeping its prototype fast breeder reactor outside of safeguards, precisely because it had “strategic” uses, code for saying that it could be used to make about 30 weapons worth of plutonium for the nuclear arsenal. This unsafeguarded source of plutonium as well as the accumulated quantities of reactor-grade plutonium are among Pakistan’s reasons for not stopping its own production.

Q: Is our nuclear energy meant for civilian purposes or is there a strong likelihood that it can be used to make bombs as well?
A: The DAE’s programme is deliberately both a source of weapons materials and nuclear electricity. I don’t think it can be said to be either purely for peaceful or purely for weapons purposes. Though some of its nuclear reactors are under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s safeguards, there are still several reactors classified as strategic. Thus, even if these are not being utilised to make plutonium for weapon right now but the DAE would like to keep its options open.

http://www.asianage.com/ideas/india-has-led-arms-race-south-asia-750

 

Nuclear Law Association to host meeting on India’s nuclear energy sector in March


MUMBAI: The Nuclear Law Association will host its second annual meeting on “India’s Nuclear Energy Sector: Business Opportunities and Legal Challenges” in Mumbai. The meet on March 2 this year is expected to explore legal and policy issues in respect to India’s nuclear energy sector which is currently generating a lot of heat.

Specifically, the discussion will be based on three major issues, said a member of NLA. The main focus is on Nuclear energy projects and private sector participation; Regulatory and Stakeholder engagement in nuclear energy projects and Nuclear Liability and Insurance: impact on commercial viability.

Judges of Bombay High Court; officers of Atomic Energy Commission; senior counsels from the Bombay Bar Association; senior legal officers of nuclear energy industries from India and abroad are speakers.

Nuclear energy is posed for a major expansion in India. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), subsequent to the Nuclear Suppliers Group‘s wavier, has projected an ambitious target from the current 4GW to 30 GW by 2020 and 60 GW by 2032. This expansion is planned through major

imports of high capacity nuclear reactors from supplier countries like Russia, France, US and others. And also through aggressive expansion of indigenous reactors.

In respect to imported reactors, the DAE has already earmarked sites for Joint Venture partnerships between NPCIL and other vendors. Many countries are expected to participate in this planned expansion. Importantly, while there are significant business opportunities for both Indian and

foreign companies in the nuclear energy sector, such large-scale projects have a risk dimension as well, which increases the need for it to be supported by an adequate legal and regulatory regime, a NLA release said..

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act enacted in 2010 with the clear message that liability from nuclear damage will have to be met by every party in the business chain, is viewed as a strong law from India. However, the law has seen the resistance from both supplier countries for being too far-reaching and not exactly in tune with international treaties; whereas domestically some have criticised it as being too weak in some respects, a lawyer-member from NLA said. The subsequent rules that were formulated seemed to have created further legal confusion on its interpretation. As a result, foreign suppliers are delaying finalising inter-government agreements. Locally, the proposed expansion is already witnessing implementational hurdles like local acceptability, land acquisition, environmental issues, perceived regulatory ineffectiveness and more, NLA believes. To strengthen the regulatory framework, the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, 2011, is currently been debated in the Parliament.

 

Ten Urgent Reasons to Reject Nuclear Power Now #mustread #mustshare


Sunday, 17 February 2013 07:54 By Jim McCluskeyTruthout | Op-Ed

Bags of radiation-contaminated materials, to be stored in a mountain, in Kawauchi, Japan, Nov. 16, 2012. With the slow pace of cleanup efforts, residents of Okuma, a town evacuated in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, have become pessimistic about ever living there again. (Photo: Ko Sasaki / The New York Times) Bags of radiation-contaminated materials, to be stored in a mountain, in Kawauchi, Japan, Nov. 16, 2012. With the slow pace of cleanup efforts, residents of Okuma, a town evacuated in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, have become pessimistic about ever living there again. (Photo: Ko Sasaki / The New York Times)Many citizens do not want nuclear power. They know it is both far too dangerous and far too expensive. UK governments have largely supported nuclear power as well as nuclear weapons. Many citizens do not want nuclear weapons because they know they are insanely dangerous, and they want to live without the constant threat of sudden and complete annihilation hanging over them and their children. The close relationship between the weapons and power in every sense of the word may explain differences in politicians’ and citizens’ agendas on these issues.

The remedy is for us to wise up, get organized and then instruct the politicians to either do what we want – or join the job market. Here are 10 reasons we should reject nuclear power now.

1. Nuclear Power Stations are Prohibitively Dangerous.

There have now been four grave nuclear reactor accidents: Windscale in Britain in 1957 (the one that is never mentioned), Three Mile Island in the United States in 1979, Chernobyl in the Soviet Union in 1986 and now Fukushima. Each accident was unique, and each was supposed to have been impossible.

A recent book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, concludes that, based on records now available, some 985,000 people died between 1986 and 2004, mainly of cancer, as a result of the Chernobyl accident.

Alice Slater, New York representative of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, comments: “The tragic news uncovered by comprehensive new research that almost one million people died in the toxic aftermath of Chernobyl should be a wake-up call to people all over the world to petition their governments to put a halt to the current industry-driven ‘nuclear renaissance.’ Aided by a corrupt IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the world has been subjected to a massive coverup and deception about the true damages caused by Chernobyl.”

At Fukushima we have the worst industrial disaster ever. Three simultaneous ongoing complete meltdowns have proven impossible to stop or contain since they started almost two years ago. These meltdowns are still pouring radiation pollution across the Japanese landscape.

International experts (e.g. Charles Perrow in Normal Accidents) agree that there will continue to be disastrous failures at nuclear power stations, and that this cannot be avoided.

As Edward Teller, the great nuclear physicist, said, “If you [try to] construct something foolproof, there will always be a fool greater than the proof.”

2. Nuclear Power Stations are Prohibitively Expensive.

Nuclear power stations are so expensive that they are never built without substantial contribution to their costs from citizens in the form of subsidies.

The UK government has said it will not subsidize new nuclear power stations. However this seems to refer to the most overt form of subsidies and not to “hidden” subsidies.

Nuclear power stations are so dangerous that no insurance company will undertake to pay the total costs of a disaster or a terrorist attack. So to get them built, the government has to limit liability. This is a subsidy.

The cost of decommissioning also is an enormous sum. Any limitation to liability for decommissioning costs will be a subsidy. If the industry does not pay the total costs of disposing of nuclear waste and ensuring it is safe for thousand of years, then this is a subsidy. The industry does not pay the total costs of all research into nuclear energy. This is a subsidy.

3. The Same Technology is Used for Power and Weapons.

Any country that purifies uranium for use in nuclear power stations can also use its purification plant to manufacture weapons-grade fissile material. Nuclear power stations use the same technology as that required to manufacture nuclear weapons.

Already, nuclear power development has been used repeatedly as a cover for creating nuclear weapons. Of the 10 nations that have developed nuclear weapons, Jim Green, of Friends of the Earth, Australia, tells us, “six did so with political cover and/or technical support from their supposedly peaceful nuclear program – India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa, North Korea and France.”

4. Nuclear Waste is Dangerous for Thousands of Years.

Since nuclear waste will be dangerous for thousands of years, we are dumping our energy problems on future generations instead of using the benign methods of creating energy that are available to us.

The currently favored “solution” of burying the waste in bedrock and sealing off access forever is desperate and irresponsible.

5. Plants and Waste Storage are Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack.

Because of their potential of mass destruction, nuclear power stations are a major target for terrorists. The 9/11 atrocity would be tiny by comparison. If a large plane were flown into a nuclear power station, the disaster would be immeasurably worse than Chernobyl.

John Large, an international independent expert on nuclear power, has said that if a plane was flown into the nuclear waste storage tanks at Sellafield, the whole of the English Midlands could be catastrophically contaminated.

Safety studies of Sellafield carried out for local authorities tell us that a direct hit by a passenger jet on the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant would contaminate Britain with two and a half times more radioactivity than the amount that escaped during the Chernobyl disaster.

The studies also inform us that up to 2,646 pounds of the highly radioactive and long-lasting isotope caesium-137 would be released into the atmosphere, contaminating Britain, Ireland, continental Europe and beyond, making huge swathes of the country uninhabitable and causing more than two million cancers.

In the light of the twin towers atrocity, this is a completely unacceptable risk.

6. They Epitomize the Centralization of Power.

There is a burgeoning awareness among citizens that they are more free and more in control of their lives if facilities and decision-making occur at the local level, that national government should only control those matters that cannot be dealt with locally. Nuclear power is the ultimate way of centralizing power, putting it in the hands of experts, multinational corporations and national – often distant – government. In complete contrast to this, benign methods of supplying power, such as wind and water turbines, solar energy and heat pumps can be in the control of local communities and even, for some provisions, households.

7. Poor countries are made dependent on rich ones.

Poor countries do not have the knowledge and facilities to design, build, maintain and run their own nuclear power stations. This puts them at the mercy of the rich and more technically advanced states if they go down the nuclear power route.

Technically less advanced countries with nuclear power stations increase the safety risks. As Professor Peter Bradford of Vermont Law School, a former member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, writes, “A world more reliant on nuclear power would involve many plants in countries that have little experience with nuclear energy, no regulatory background in the field and some questionable records on quality control, safety and corruption.” By adopting benign forms of power supply, the UK could help to promote the people-friendly way forward.

8. These plants draw funds away from the development of sustainable energy.

The spending of funds on research and other nuclear power development is highly detrimental to the development of sustainable energy supplies.

Each nuclear power plant costs around 5 billion pounds (7.9 billion in US dollars) to build. With such sums available, we could quickly realize our sustainable energy potential. As Friends of the Earth tell us, “With some of the windiest weather in Europe and almost 8,000 miles of coastline, the UK is a powerhouse waiting to be switched on.”

9. Uranium will become increasingly scarce.

The quantity of available uranium is limited and will decline. The price will go up. If the world adopts nuclear power as a major source of energy, there will be uranium wars just as there are now oil wars. There are unlikely to be wars fought over sustainable locally generated solar, wind or wave power.

Thomas Neff, a research affiliate at MIT’s Center for International Studies writes, “. . . shortage of uranium and of processing facilities worldwide leaves a gap between the potential increase in demand for nuclear energy and the ability to supply fuel for it.”

10. Government supports nuclear power against the will of the people.

The adoption of nuclear power is favored by the government, but in a referendum, it would be rejected by citizens as being too dangerous and too expensive. A major reason that government favors this form seems to be due to vast amounts of money and effort being put into lobbying by the power companies. Their profits are huge, so they have the funds for lobbying, whereas the NGOs and citizens-at-large, who are against nuclear power and have overwhelming arguments, do not make the same impact because they lack the funds for effective lobbying.

This is one tendency we are trying to help counter by this article.T

 

#India- wake up—World’s biggest nuke plant may shut: Japan report


by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 25, 2013

The largest nuclear power plant in the world may be forced to shut down under tightened rules proposed by Japan’s new nuclear watchdog aimed at safeguarding against earthquakes, a report said Friday.

Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power‘s vast Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in central Japan could be on the chopping block if the Nuclear Regulation Authority expands the definition of an active fault.

The movement of a fault — a crack in the earth’s crust — can generate massive earthquakes like the one that sparked a tsunami that slammed into the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011, setting off the worst atomic crisis in a generation.

The watchdog is planning to define an active fault as one that moved any time within the past 400,000 years, rather than the current 120,000 to 130,000-year limit, an official told AFP, which could spell the end of the TEPCO plant.

“The new guidelines will be put into effect in July, and then we will re-evaluate the safety of each of Japan’s nuclear plants,” said the NRA official, adding no decisions would be made until the new rules were in place.

At least two “non-active” faults underneath the site’s reactors could be ensnared by the new definition, forcing its closure, according to a report in the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on Friday.

Other Japanese media have carried similar reports.

A company spokesman said TEPCO was conducting more tests on the faults underneath the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, the world’s biggest by generating capacity.

The NRA is conducting or planning to conduct investigations into six other nuclear plants in Japan.

At present only two of the country’s 50 reactors are operational, after the entire stable was shuttered over several months for scheduled safety checks. Public resistance has meant the government has been reluctant to give the go-ahead for their re-starting.

The two reactors that are working are both being investigated by seismologists.

In 2007, the government ordered the temporary closure of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake destroyed hundreds of homes in the area and jolted the sprawling plant, which was close to the quake’s epicentre, leading to a small radiation leak.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck off Japan’s northeastern coast in 2011 triggered the tsunami that left about 19,000 dead and set off the emergency at Fukushima.

No one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the nuclear catastrophe, but radiation leaks forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and left swathes of agricultural land unfarmabl

 

Selling Nulcear Power to Women: Why the Industry has got it Wrong


Donella H. Meadows, http://www.dianuke.org/
DonellaMeadows1
Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.

The U.S. Council for Energy Awareness has finally figured out how to sell nuclear power to women.

Women have always been a problem to the nuclear industry. Polls consistently show them to be more opposed to nuclear power than men. (“Because of their deeply held distrust of science and technology,” the Council for Energy Awareness assumes.) The Council, which, if it were honest would call itself the Council for Nuclear Propaganda, has never bothered to spend much of its $21 million annual budget advertising to women. It has sensed a better investment airing spots during football games and the World Series, telling men how nuclear power is going to free us from the domination of oil-rich Arabs.

That’s a lie, of course. Nuclear power generates electricity, which runs our lights and electric motors. It is not a substitute for oil, which runs our cars and planes. A flat-out program to build nuclear power plants could reduce our oil imports by a few percent at most. But then the CEA’s job is not to tell the truth, but to make us look kindly on nuclear power.

Which, when it came to women, was assumed impossible, until now. Through tireless polling, the CEA has finally found the key to female hearts and minds. Women, it has discovered, care about their children and about the environment and especially about the environment surrounding their children. And so the pages of Good Housekeeping, the Ladies’ Home Journal, and Better Homes and Gardens are soon to be graced with CEA ads showing kids playing happily in sylvan scenes with nuclear cooling towers rising in the background, and sweet pictures of a baby turtle crawling to the sea.

“The baby sea turtles hatching on nearby beaches are more evidence of the truth about nuclear energy; it peacefully coexists with the environment. Because nuclear plants don’t burn anything to make electricity, nuclear plants don’t pollute the air,” say the ads. “Nuclear plants produce no greenhouse gases.”

Nuclear plants produce radioactive wastes that no government on earth has figured out how to store safely, but those wastes are indeed not greenhouse gases. Under normal operating conditions nuclear wastes don’t pollute the air, though if anyone goofs and lets them loose, there is no more insidious pollutant of air, water, or soil. Nuclear wastes have to be sealed off in concrete tombs, kept under pools of water, and guarded closely for the several centuries; they have to be kept out of the hands of terrorists; the buildings that contain the reactors become hazardous waste when they are pulled down. But these matters would bother you only if you had some sort of irrational feminine distrust of science and technology.

young-women-in-nuclear-power-plantNuclear plants could, at best, reduce the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 12 percent, which is the amount generated by coal-burning power plants — the only greenhouse-gas-emitting activity for which nuclear power can substitute. To replace all existing coal plants with nuclear ones, would cost $5.3 trillion (and a multiplication of nuclear power reactors worldwide from the present 400 to 5,000). We could get the same amount of greenhouse gas reduction from energy efficiency at one-seventh the cost.

But let’s not bother the ladies’ heads with economics. Let’s help them, as the CEA kindly puts it, “sort out the facts from the conflicting messages they hear.”

“I want my kids to grow up in a healthy environment,” says the attractive young woman in the TV ad, as her kids play by a pristine lake. “I want them to breath clean air. I”m for nuclear energy because … it’s one of the cleanest sources of electricity we have. When I was in college, I was against nuclear energy. But I’ve reached a different conclusion. [Nuclear energy] means cleaner air for this planet.”

Her name is Karen Strauss, she is an environmental engineer, she travels around the country as a spokeswoman for CEA, and that college she was in when she was “against nuclear energy” was Dartmouth. She is the granddaughter-in-law of Dr. Lewis Strauss, once the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He is the one who promised that nuclear power would be “too cheap to meter.” Now it is the most expensive way of generating electricity, even with major government subsidies.

Karen Strauss doesn’t mention the high cost of nuclear electricity, nor does she point out that the utilities funding the CEA run not only nuclear plants, but also coal-fired plants, sources of just about every air pollutant you can mention. They spend some of their tax-deductible public relations money telling us about nuclear power and clean air, and some fighting the Clean Air Act.

Nuclear power has dragged some utilities down to bankruptcy. Many others long ago reached the conclusion that they can meet their customer’s needs far more cheaply and with less environmental threat using technologies ranging from hydropower, wind, and solar thermal to smart conservation. The utilities that haven’t caught on yet are still trying to promote their dangerous, dinosaur technologies by lying to the public.

Maybe they would wise up if they hired more women.

 

Villagers court arrest against Jaitapur nuclear plant


ALOK DESHPANDE, The Hindu,
MUMBAI, January 3, 2013

Thousands of villagers from around the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) site in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district on Wednesday launched a ‘jail bharo’ agitation demanding scrapping of the 9,900 MW plant.

The agitators attempted to take out a peaceful protest march to the project site. But they were stopped three kilometres away, arrested and later released. The protesters had planned to surround the site to convey the symbolic ‘stop-the-work’ notice to the administration.

“This was the first big agitation held after the firing incident in Sakhri Nate village. The government was deliberately spreading the rumour that villagers have softened their stand and are now ready to accept the project,” said Amjad Borkar of the Machhimar Kruti Samiti in Sakhri Nate. Mr. Borkar said the march was to tell the government that we did not change our stand. “We are confident of throwing the power plant out of Jaitapur,” he said.

“The government should respect people’s sentiments. It should cancel all the agreements connected with JNPP,” said Mr. Borkar.

The Shiv Sena and the Left parties also took part in the march. Rajan Salvi, local Sena MLA made it clear that the party would not allow contractors to work on the site. “They have built the compound wall by repressing our voices. We will not let contractors work on the site in future,” he said.

“The project does not stand on technical as well as on democratic grounds. The technology is nowhere tested and all gram panchayats surrounding the site have said no to the project. The government instead of unleashing the police on the villagers, should respect the people’s sentiments,” said Prakash Reddy, of the Communist Party of India.

 

Nuclear Safari in Deutschland: A Waste Story of 2009


 

 
S. P. Udayakumar
Nagercoil, July 2009
Back in June 2009 I got a first-hand opportunity to face the nuclear demon that I had been fighting against all along. Deep in a hell-hole in a remote corner of a distant country!
I did not realize the seriousness of this trip until I saw my name in big bold letters on the door of a bathroom in the visitor’s building of Salt Mine Asse II. I was asked to strip naked and change the clothing starting with the underwear that they had kept ready there. The shirt and pants measurements and shoe size I had provided were helpful. As I dressed up, I was beginning to look more like an astronaut who was going into the depth of the Earth rather than flying into the space.
With a heavy hard helmet donning my head, a dosimeter was hung around my neck. With the hefty battery kit pulling my neck on the right side, a sturdy headlight was attached to the helmet. And then a very weighty oxygen kit was hung on my left shoulder. With all these safety accessories bogging me down, I could feel mild pain on my shoulders. The instructions given to deal with a possible fire or accident inside the mine was turning my stomach and caused palpitations.
When my friends from Argentina, Brazil and Germany and I were going down a rickety lift (do they still call it that when it is taking you down?) with a strong draft with so much noise and shake, I thought of the dangerous African safari I had undertaken a few years ago in the Kenyan jungles. But this nuclear safari was a lot more dangerous and deadly. If I was forced to pick one of the two safaris, I would certainly choose the African animals.
At 590 meters depth, we were at the mouth of the salt mine. And there was a small hand-carved St. Barbara grotto on one of the walls. Saint Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen. She is also traditionally the patron of armored men, military engineers, gunsmiths, miners and anyone else who works with cannons and explosives. She is invoked against thunder and lightning and all accidents arising from explosions of gunpowder. She is venerated by every Catholic who faces the danger of sudden and violent death at work.
We all got onto an open jeep driven by a woman mine officer and her colleague. I could not completely understand the architecture as there were narrow passages going in all directions. But one thing was clear. That I was deep in the long and convoluted nuclear waste intestine of the German nuclear industry.
Our first stop was a hidden corner of the nuclear waste burial site. Beneath our feet lay hundreds of deadly and treacherous waste-containing barrels. The woman mine officer explained to us in German-tasting English that the barrels were mechanically downed through a narrow metallic hole and buried. We were standing some 6 feet above this deadly treasure on a heavy metal plate. The possibility of radiation was so alarming. The waste, plutonium, the clothing of the workers, metallic parts of the equipment, and everything else had been crushed and thrust into those barrels.
We were driven deeper into the mines. At one point, our guide stopped and showed us the crevices of the mines where salt water was dripping and forming into icicles. One could easily guess that not everything was right in the salt caves. At another place, more water was collecting with a steady and heavy flow. One liter of water was collecting every minute and this water was being taken out of the caves manually.
We went to another side of the caves at 625 meter depth. Some 8,000 low-grade waste barrels had been dumped there and were covered with 2 feet of salt blown mechanically. If you scratched with your bare hands, you could dig out the hazmat.
Most of the nuclear waste from the German nuclear power plants had been stored in the Salt Mine Asse II since 1967. Although the local people had objected to the project, the German government and scientists supported the project; went ahead and buried the wastes until 1978. The water flow inside the caves became much stronger in 1988 but the government still stubbornly rejected all opposition.
In June 2008, it was found out that the water in the mine was contaminated with Cesium 137. There was a suggestion to fill up the mines with water so that it would take the waste even deeper and make the whole depository safer.
As I heard all these disturbing stories, I was naturally worried about the nuclear waste management in India. With scary and sordid thoughts and feelings crisscrossing my mind and heart and soul, I stood there stunned. The nuclear safari was over.
At 650 meter depth, the mine authorities checked our radiation exposure level at the Hand Fuss Kleider monitor before exiting the mines. The lift ride back to the face of the Earth was quite uplifting in every sense of the word, and I had never been happier to see the light at the end of the (vertical) tunnel. We were asked to take another shower and change to our original clothing.
We all know shit happens. But we cannot understand the concept of making nuclear shit in order for it to happen in the future, to our own children and grandchildren and the umpteen numbers of unborn generations. One thing is for sure, though! Those who make nuclear shit will suffer the shame and stigma. Or, will they?

 

Japan- local governments addicted to nuclear subsidies


Monday, Nov. 26, 2012

 

SENTAKU MAGAZINE

Nov 26,2012

Municipalities hosting nuclear power plants throughout Japan have received large amounts of central government subsidies, donations from utilities and lucrative business contracts.

 

Now, 1½ years after the Fukushima nuclear disasters, those municipalities realize how much their finances depend on the nuclear power-induced money.

“They’re like drug addicts cut off from supplies,” said a member of the assembly of Niigata Prefecture, which hosts Tokyo Electric Power Co.‘s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant on the Sea of Japan coast. All the reactors at the plant remain shut down after its No. 5 and 6 reactors went offline earlier this year.

After the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdowns in March 2011, the government refused to give the go-ahead for restarting reactors at other plants throughout Japan that had gone offline for regular inspections, until it approved reactivating two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture in July.

“I was scared to death when the Fukushima accident happened, but now I am thankful that the plant resumed operations,” said a resident of the town of Oi who works for a subcontractor to the power station. “I think that most of the local people here feel the same way.”

Many newspaper reporters and TV crew rushed to Oi — along with anti-nuclear power activists — when the town was at the center of nationwide attention over the government’s decision to reactivate the reactors. The man says he did not feel like talking to media crews, who he thought were trying to paint a stereotype picture of the local residents worried about the dangers of reactivating the plant.

There are indeed gaps among local residents and businesses on how they benefit financially from hosting the nuclear plants.

Host prefectures and municipalities receive central government grants based on laws designed to promote development of power generation facilities.

These subsidies are heavily distributed while siting research and construction are going on, but are gradually reduced once the plants starts operation. After that, only the local residents who work at the plant and related businesses continue to get the rewards.

“People who do not benefit from the plant are a minority here. Still, it’s true that some residents who don’t directly get the money were unhappy about the restart,” said an Oi town assemblyman.

Media reports played up the voices of residents who spoke up in opposition to the restart. But it was “never a consensus of the local residents” to oppose the plant restart, the assemblyman said.

People in other host municipalities have mixed feelings toward the restart of the Oi plant.

“A growing number of residents ask me when the plant here will be restarted,” says a politician from Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, where Japan Atomic Power Co. has a power station and Japan Atomic Energy Agency operates the Monju fast-breeder reactor, which constitutes the core of the nation’s nuclear fuel cycle policy.

A reporter with a local newspaper says “special financial consideration” has been given to the Tsugaru area as part of the effort to achieve the nuclear fuel cycle, which he called “a pie in the sky” to begin with. Money kept flowing in generously from the nuclear community even after Monju was kept mostly offline following a serious sodium coolant leak in 1995.

The city of Tsuruga has so far received a total of over ¥100 billion in “official” grants. In addition, another ¥10 billion has been provided to the city coffers in the name of “anonymous donations.”

Such funds are then used to benefit local businesses in the form of public works projects contracts. One construction industry insider in Fukui Prefecture explains that bid-rigging is still rampant in such projects in municipalities hosting nuclear plants, resulting in higher costs.

For example, the municipal government paid well in excess of ¥100 million for a road improvement project, but the sum would have been more than 20 percent less if the same work had been undertaken in other cities, he said.

There will be additional construction orders from a utility after a nuclear plant starts operations — at costs mostly above the industry average, according to a source familiar with the construction industry in the Kansai region. Some of the money will likely go from construction firms to local politicians, the source said.

Kansai Electric Power Co., which operates three nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture, is a private company and may not see a problem in paying whatever price is bid for its construction work. But under relevant laws, utilities are allowed to pass all of such costs on to electricity bills charged on consumers.

Even among host municipalities, there are differences in attitudes depending on the extent to which they rely on financial assistance and benefits linked to nuclear energy. In February, Kashiwazaki Mayor Hiroshi Aida expressed his support for a policy to reduce and eventually eliminate the nation’s dependence on nuclear energy, but his counterpart at Kariwa said his village cannot survive without the nuclear power station.

While they both host Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, nuclear plant-related subsidies or donations from the utility account for 14 percent of Kashiwazaki’s annual budget and as high as 30 percent of Kariwa’s.

An insider in the construction industry in Kashiwazaki says that local politicians and contractors continue to hunt for new sources of nuclear power-related income even after the Fukushima plant disasters. Even though it is now next to impossible to hope for construction of new nuclear plants, they are looking into the possibility of building facilities for temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants around the country, or a storage site for contaminated materials from Fukushima, he points out.

Another example of a local community dependent on money related to nuclear facilities is in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, formerly a poverty-stricken village where most of its 11,000 residents relied on agriculture and fisheries for their livelihood. The village is now called one of Japan’s wealthiest municipalities.

Nippon Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which plays the central role in the nation’s nuclear fuel cycle project, has its headquarters in Rokkasho and accounts for ¥6 billion of the estimated ¥6.8 billion in local tax revenue for fiscal 2012. Rokkasho’s general account budget for the year is ¥13 billion — double the amount of a village in Kumamoto Prefecture with roughly the same population.

If the government’s plan to phase out nuclear power in Japan is to be implemented, the whole concept of a nuclear fuel cycle in this country would collapse, which in turn would deal a serious blow to Rokkasho’s fiscal foundation.

Alarmed by such a prospect, the village assembly in September unanimously adopted a resolution demanding that if the nuclear fuel cycle program were to be stopped, all spent fuels that had been shipped to the reprocessing facility in Rokkasho be moved out of the village immediately. It was an outright threat to both the central government and the power companies.

Spent fuel storage pools at nuclear plants throughout the country are filled almost to capacity, and would overflow if the fuel rods at Rokkasho were returned to the power plants where they originated. This would make it impossible to restart any of the nuclear plants in Japan.

A journalist who covers nuclear power issues for a major newspaper notes that Rokkasho’s special status among host municipalities gives it enormous leverage.

“It’s like a drug addict engaging in robbery to get the money to buy more narcotics,” the journalist said.

The episode shows that the system in which money flows from the nuclear community into host municipalities remains intact, and unless the link is cut off, those municipalities will continue to rely on the nuclear industry.

This is an abridged translation of an article from the November issue of Sentaku, a monthly magazine covering Japanese political, social and economic scenes.