Whistleblower: Nuclear Disaster in America is waiting to happen

Key federal official warns that the public has been kept in the dark about safety risks.

November 28, 2012  |

Photo Credit: Aleksey Klints/ Shutterstock.com

 This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

The likelihood was very low that an earthquake followed by a tsunami would destroy all four nuclear reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, but in March 2011, that’s what happened, and the accident has yet to be contained.

Similarly, the likelihood may be low that an upstream dam will fail, unleashing a flood that will turn any of 34 vulnerable nuclear plants into an American Fukushima.  But knowing that unlikely events sometimes happen nevertheless, the nuclear industry continues to answer the question of how much safety is enough by seeking to suppress or minimize what the public knows about the danger.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has known at least since 1996 that flooding danger from upstream dam failure was a more serious threat than the agency would publicly admit. The NRC failed from 1996 until 2011 to assess the threat even internally.  In July 2011, the NRC staff completed a report finding “that external flooding due to upstream dam failure poses a larger than expected risk to plants and public safety” [emphasis added] but the NRC did not make the 41-page report public.

Instead, the agency made much of another report, issued July 12, 2011 – “Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century,” sub-titled “The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident.”  Hardly four months since the continuing accident began in Japan, the premature report had little to say about reactor flooding as a result of upstream dam failure, although an NRC news release in March 2012 would try to suggest otherwise.

Censored Report May Be Crime by NRC  

That 2012 news release accompanied a highly redacted version of the July 2011 report that had recommended a more formal investigation of the unexpectedly higher risks of upstream dam failure to nuclear plants and the public.  In its release, the NRC said it had “started a formal evaluation of potential generic safety implications for dam failures upstream” including “the effects of upstream dam failure on independent spent fuel storage installations.”

Six months later, in September 2012, The NRC’s effort at bland public relations went controversial, when the report’s lead author made a criminal complaint to the NRC’s Inspector General, alleging “Concealment of Significant Nuclear Safety Information by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”  In a letter dated September 14 and made public the same day, Richard Perkins, an engineer in the NRC’s Division of Risk Analysis, wrote Inspector General Hubert Bell, describing it as “a violation of law” that the Commission:

has intentionally mischaracterized relevant and noteworthy safety information as sensitive, security information in an effort to conceal the information from the public. This action occurred in anticipation of, in preparation for, and as part of the NRC’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request for information concerning the generic issue investigation on Flooding of U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Following Upstream Dam Failure….   

Portions of the publically released version of this report are redacted citing security sensitivities, however, the redacted information is of a general descriptive nature or is strictly relevant to the safety of U.S. nuclear power plants, plant personnel, and members of the public. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has engaged in an effort to mischaracterize the information as security sensitive in order to justify withholding it from public release using certain exemptions specified in the Freedom of Information Act. …

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff may be motivated to prevent the disclosure of this safety information to the public because it will embarrass the agency. The redacted information includes discussion of, and excerpts from, NRC official agency records that show the NRC has been in possession of relevant, notable, and derogatory safety information for an extended period but failed to properly act on it.

 Concurrently, the NRC concealed the information from the public.

The Inspector General has not yet acted on the complaint.

Most Media Ignore Nuclear Safety Risks

Huffington Post picked up the story immediately as did the Union of Concerned Scientists and a number of online news sites.  The mainstream media showed little or no interest in a story about yet another example of the NRC lying to the public about the safety of nuclear power plants.

An NRC spokesman suggested to HuffPo that the report’s redactions were at least partly at the behest of Homeland Security. A second NRC risk engineer, who requested anonymity, said that Homeland Security had signed off on the report with no redactions.  As HuffPo noted:

If this were truly such a security concern, however, it would be incumbent on the agency to act swiftly to eliminate that threat, the engineer stated. As it is, the engineer suggested, no increased security actions have been undertaken.

This same engineer expressed serious misgivings, shared by others in and out of the NRC, that a nuclear power plant in Greenville, South Carolina, has been at risk from upstream dam failure for years, that the NRC has been aware of the risk, and that the NRC has done nothing to mitigate the risk.   In the redacted report, the NRC blacked out passages about this plant.

Event Unlikely, Would Be Sure Disaster 

South Carolina’s Oconee plant on Lake Keowee has three reactors, located 11 miles downstream from the Jocassee Reservoir, an 8,000 acre lake.  As HuffPo put it:

…the Oconee facility, which is operated by Duke Energy, would suffer almost certain core damage if the Jocassee dam were to fail. And the odds of it failing sometime over the next 20 years, the engineer said, are far greater than the odds of a freak tsunami taking out the defenses of a nuclear plant in Japan….

“Although it is not a given that Jocassee Dam will fail in the next 20 years,” the engineer added, “it is a given that if it does fail, the three reactor plants will melt down and release their radionuclides into the environment.”

When the NRC granted an operating license to the Oconee plant in 1973, danger from upstream dam failure was not even considered, never mind considered a threat against which some protection was needed.   The NRC and the plant’s owner both say the Jocassee Dam is not an immediate safety issue.   Oconee’s initial license was for 40 years.  It is now the second plant in the U.S. that the NRC has granted an extended license for another 20 years.

Union of Concerned Scientists Are Concerned 

The Union of Concerned Scientists, which says it is neither pro-nuke nor anti-nuke, but committed to making nuclear power as safe as possible, has considered the risk factors for Oconee. The NRC wrote in 2009 that “a Jocassee Dam failure is a credible event and in 2011 wrote that “dam failures are common” – and that since 1975 there have been more than 700 dam failures, 148 of them large dams 40 feet or more high.  The Jocassee Dam is 385 feet high.

For a dam like Jocassee, the NRC calculates the chance of failure at 1 in 3,600 per year – or 1 in 180 each year for the extended license.  NRC policy, when enforced, requires nuclear plant owners to mitigate any risk that has a 1 in 250 per years chance of occurring.

Oconee has three nuclear reactors, each of which is larger than the reactors at Fukushima, and so has more lethal radioactive potential.   Duke Energy reported its own upstream dam failure calculations to the NRC no later than 1996 and the NRC has responded by requiring no safety enhancements to address the threat.

Noting that the upstream dam failure risk does not take into account possible earthquakes or terrorist attacks, the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote:

The 34 reactors of concern are downstream from a total of more than 50 dams, more than half of which are roughly the size of the Jocassee dam. Assuming the NRC’s failure rate applies to all of those dams, the probability that one will fail in the next 40 years is roughly 25 percent—a 1 in 4 chance.

List of Reactors Potentially at High Risk of Flooding due to Dam Failure


Alabama: Browns Ferry, Units 1, 2, 3

Arkansas: Arkansas Nuclear, Units 1, 2

Louisiana: Waterford, Unit 3

Minnesota: Prairie Island, Units 1, 2

Nebraska: Cooper;  Fort Calhoun

New Jersey: Hope Creek, Unit 1;  Salem, Units 1, 2

New York: Indian Point, Units 2, 3

North Carolina: McGuire, Units 1, 2

Pennsylvania: Beaver Valley, Units 1, 2; Peach Bottom, Units 2, 3; Three Mile Island, Unit 1

Tennessee: Sequoyah, Unit 1;  Watts Bar, Unit 1

Texas: South Texas, Units 1, 2

South Carolina: H.B. Robinson, Unit 2;  Oconee, Units 1, 2, 3

Vermont: Vermont Yankee

Virginia: Surrey, Units 1, 2

Washington: Columbia

(Source: Perkins, et al., “Screening Analysis,” July 2011) 

#India – Nuclear safety before vendor interests

October 30, 2012, The Hindu

    M. V. Ramana
    Suvrat Raju
BEYOND MEGAWATT: Making the operator and supplier share liability is not only fair but crucial from the point of view of cover.
Photo: AP BEYOND MEGAWATT: Making the operator and supplier share liability is not only fair but crucial from the point of view of cover.

The question that must be asked, is whether India is willing to compromise on its laws and the safety and rights of its citizens to protect the business interests of reactor suppliers

In 2010, under pressure from multinational nuclear suppliers, the Manmohan Singh government pushed through a law to protect them from the consequences of a nuclear accident. The law makes it impossible for victims to sue the supplier, even for an accident that results from a design defect. Liability is effectively transferred to the Indian taxpayer, first to the public sector Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) and then the government. Even this is capped at a maximum of Rs.2,500 crore and victims need not be compensated for any additional damage.

However, the law also includes a clause that, under certain circumstances, allows the NPCIL, although not the victims, to sue the supplier and recoup the money it has paid out. It is this relatively minor clause that nuclear suppliers, and their friends in the Indian establishment, have been railing against for the past two years.

The Russian Deputy Prime Minister warned India, on his recent visit, that if the Russian company Atomstroyexport (a subsidiary of Rosatom) was forced to obey this law, then the cost of power from the Kudankulam third and fourth reactors would go up. He must have been hoping that no one would try and square this threat with earlier claims of safety made about these plants.

In a paper, published by “Nuclear Engineering and Design” in 2006, three NPCIL officials claimed that, in any given year, the probability of a severe accident at these plants was one in 10 million. If Atomstroyexport can persuade insurers that this figure is correct, then to obtain cover even for accidents where the highest possible liability of Rs.2,500 crore is applicable, it would need to pay a premium of only about Rs.2,500 per year. For the 1,000 MW Kudankulam reactors, operating at an 80 per cent load factor, this should lead to an increase in tariff of about a third of a millionth of a rupee per unit!

This absurdly low figure arises because both the factors in the calculation earlier make little sense. As preliminary data from Fukushima shows, a nuclear accident can cause economic damage that is more than a hundred times larger than the artificial cap on liability in the Indian law. Moreover, empirical evidence — in a total of about 15,000 reactor-years of operation, there have been several “core-damage” accidents including Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island — suggests that the probability of severe accidents is about a thousand times higher than what the industry claims.

Suppliers have successfully wielded their influence in other countries to avoid economic liability for accidents. Their argument that the Indian law will lead to cost escalations is meant to veil the real reason for their worry: the law sets a bad precedent and, in the future, either in India itself or in another country, it may lead to a more rational law centred on victims rather than the industry. In such a law, there would be no cap on liability, and suppliers would be held jointly responsible with the operator for paying out damages.

In fact, the Supreme Court has already admitted a petition, by the lawyer Prashant Bhushan, requesting precisely these changes in the law. Making the operator and supplier share liability is not only fair but crucial from the point of view of safety.

Design and accidents

The history of nuclear power shows that design failures have played an important role in all severe accidents. This is true of Fukushima, where the underlying problems with the Mark 1 design had been recognised many years earlier. The Kemeny Commission, set up by Jimmy Carter, to analyse the Three Mile Island accident pointed out that the suppliers, Babcock & Wilcox, shared culpability. The disaster at the Chernobyl reactor, which was built by the Soviet predecessor of Rosatom, was caused by a combination of two grievous design features: a positive “void coefficient of reactivity,” and the lack of appropriate containment.

Apart from the untenable claim about higher tariffs, nuclear suppliers and the Indian government have made other disingenuous arguments to get rid of the clause on supplier liability. One of them is that the law is hurting India’s domestic manufacturers, some of whom are involved in supplying small parts of the plant.

In general, as in other industries, exposing all manufacturers along the supply chain to tort claims helps make them more conscious of safety and quality. Manufacturers who are supplying parts to a hazardous industry need to be more careful about reliability.

Nevertheless, the law does not, as such, prevent the NPCIL from signing subcontracts that indemnify smaller suppliers along the chain. The NPCIL’s problem is that it is politically infeasible to extend this indemnity to the manufacturer of the plant itself, as it discovered when it tried to provide blanket indemnity to Atomstroyexport for the Kudankulam third and fourth units.

Industry on Indian law

The nuclear industry also argues that India’s current law is out of sync with international conventions on nuclear liability. This is a poor argument because these conventions were all drafted under pressure from nuclear manufacturers who, historically, were in a stronger position than they are now. In the early days of nuclear power, American suppliers exploited this to impose the idea that liability should be channelled to the operator. Later, suppliers from other countries also adopted this self-serving argument.

Until recently, the United States itself never joined any international liability convention, because under its domestic law, called the Price Anderson Act, victims retain the right to sue suppliers. Economic compensation is channelled through a complicated insurance system, but manufacturers can be found legally liable and this has consequences.

In 1997, the U.S. engineered the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), with a special rider for itself. When Bush communicated the convention to the U.S. Senate for ratification, he emphasised that “The United States in particular benefits from a grandfather clause that allows it to join the convention without being required to change certain aspects of the Price-Anderson system that would otherwise be inconsistent with its requirements.”

India’s own law is largely borrowed from an annex of the CSC. After showing no inclination to join any of the existing treaties for half a century, the Indian government rushed to sign this discriminatory convention soon after the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. This shows that it was acting under external pressure, and not out of any concern for potential victims.

Even granting that suppliers should be liable in principle, many well-meaning people argue that India must acquiesce to the demands of the industry because it desperately needs electricity. Leaving aside the debate on the role of nuclear power in general, it is clear that India’s push towards importing reactors has less to do with electricity, and more to do with other factors.

Kakodkar article

Even by the standards of UPA II, the process of handing out multi-billion dollar contracts for reactors to various multinational companies has been opaque and arbitrary. In Jaitapur, the government has promised to buy up to six European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) from Areva. No EPR is in commercial operation anywhere in the world and in France and Finland, Areva is running into severe construction-difficulties. Two nuclear complexes have been promised to the U.S., again involving designs that have never been built before.

In a rare candid admission, the former chairperson of the Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar, provided the rationale behind these seemingly bizarre decisions.

Writing in the Marathi daily Sakaal, in January 2011, Kakodkar explained: “America, Russia and France were the countries that we made mediators in the efforts to lift sanctions, and hence, for the nurturing of their business interests, we made deals with them for nuclear projects.”

As the debate on liability continues both in public and in the courts, the question that the country must ask is whether it is willing to compromise on its laws, and the safety and rights of its citizens to protect the business interests of reactor vendors.

(The authors are physicists.)


Flunking Atomic Audits- CAG Reports and Nuclear Power


English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

English: Internationally recognized symbol. Deutsch: Gefahrensymbol für Radioaktivität. Image:Radioactive.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Vol – XLVII No. 39, September 29, 2012 | M V Ramana


The recent Comptroller and Auditor General‘s report on the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and, more broadly, on nuclear safety regulation has highlighted many serious organisational and operational flaws. The report follows on a series of earlier CAG reports that documented cost and time overruns and poor performance at a number of nuclear facilities in the country. On the whole, the CAG reports offer a powerful indictment of the department of atomic energy and its nuclear plans.

M V Ramana (ramana@princeton.edu) is a physicist who works at the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and the Program on Science and Global Security, both at Princeton University, on the future of nuclear power in the context of climate change and nuclear disarmament.

The new report (Report No 9 of 2012/13) of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the acti­vities of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) could not have come at a more appropriate time (CAG 2012). Concern about nuclear safety has naturally increased significantly since the multiple accidents at the Fukushima Daichi ­nuclear reactors. The response of the ­Indian nuclear establishment and, more generally the Government of India, to Fukushima can largely be characterised as an attempt to placate people’s concerns about the potential for accidents at Indian nuclear facilities. One element in that strategy was to emphasise that safety regulation at the Nuclear Power Corporation’s (NPC) facilities was impeccable. The CAG report has essentially demo­lished this claim.

Independence of Regulator

A basic tenet of regulation is that the safety regulator must be independent of industry and government. Article 8 of the international Convention on Nuclear Safety, which India has signed and ratified, calls upon signatores to “take the appropriate steps to ensure an effective separation between the functions of the regulatory body and those of any other body or organisation concerned with the promotion or utilisation of nuclear energy” (CNS 1994). The absence of such separation has been identified as one of the factors that led to the Fukushima accidents by the Independent Investigation Commission.1

India’s nuclear regulatory regime suffers from the same lack of effective separation. Despite India’s international commitments, awareness of best practices, and criticism by various outsiders, the CAG report pointed out, “the legal status of AERB continued to be that of an authority subordinate to the central government, with powers delegated to it by the latter” (CAG 2012: vi).

At first glance the AERB does seem independent of the department of atomic energy (DAE) and the NPC. It reports to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) rather than the DAE. The problem, as the CAG observed, arises from the “fact that the chairman, AEC and the secretary, DAE are one and the same” and this fact ­“negates the very essence of institutional separation of regulatory and non-regulatory functions” (p 12). The chairman of the NPC is also a member of the AEC. ­Another significant constraint on the AERB’s activities is that the organisation “is dependent on DAE for budgetary and administrative support” (p 13). What all this means, in effect, is that despite all pretences and claims to the contrary by the DAE and its attendant institutions, the AERB lacks power and independence. As common experience would indicate, it is hard to criticise one’s boss or force action in ways that he or she does not want. Of the 3,200 recommendations by the AERB’s Safety Review Committee for Operating Plants, the DAE had not complied with 375, with 137 recommendations dating back to earlier than 2005 (p 42).2

The lack of separation is not an accident, but a choice made by the nuclear establishment. As early as the 1970s, Ashok Parthasarathi, a senior bureaucrat and science adviser to the prime minister, had suggested that the

inspection of all nuclear installations from the point of view of health and environmental safety should be administered by a body with a suitable name and located in department of science and technology, as that department had been assigned the national responsibility for ensuring the preservation of environmental quality (Parthasarathi 2007: 131-32).

But even the idea of having an external agency monitor its environmental record was not acceptable to the AEC, let alone having someone monitor safety in its facilities.

In the subsequent decades, many have emphasised the importance of having an effective and independent regulator, in particular, A Gopalakrishnan, the chairman of AERB from 1993 to 1996 (for example, Gopalakrishnan 1999). Gopalakrishnan has also recounted many instances where the DAE and NPC have actively interfered with the safety activities of the AERB. Others from AERB have tried to defend the board, its independence, and its ability to monitor safety (for ­example, Parthasarathy 2011). Unfortunately, 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”. Now, the CAG report adds to public suspicion of the independence of the AERB and it is not going to be easy for the AERB to be seen as capable of effectively regulating nuclear power.

From the AERB to the NSRA

The situation described by the CAG might change with the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) Bill of September 2011 being introduced in Parliament by the Government of India. Indeed, the DAE did state to the CAG “that the process of improving the existing legal framework for introducing greater clarity in respect of separation of legal responsibilities concerning promotional and regulatory functions had already been taken up”, mentioning the NSRA Bill (p 11). Essentially, the same argument has been offered by AERB secretary R Bhattacharya in response to the CAG report (Jog 2012).

Technically, that may be a valid defence, but just because the AERB is to be replaced by the NSRA – assuming, of course, that the government manages to get it through Parliament – should we be confident of the safety of the DAE’s nuclear facilities? The underlying problem highlighted by the CAG is not just the legal status, but one of effectiveness. And looking at the content of the bill and the context under which the NSRA has been created, it seems unlikely that it will create an effective separation between the regulatory authority and the nuclear establishment.

In the NSRA as has been envisioned, many of the key processes involved in ensuring effective regulation will continue to be controlled by the AEC. The power for crucial steps like the appointment of members is vested with the central government. But for most purposes, the authority empowered to act on behalf of the central government is the AEC. The AEC chairman will also be one of the key members of the Council of Nuclear Safety that will set the policies with respect to radiation and nuclear safety that will fall under the purview of the NSRA.

There is another problem that the CAG did not discuss. The AERB suffers from a lack of technical staff and technical facilities, and this lacuna has been exploited by the DAE (Ramana and Kumar 2010: 53). Further, there is little expertise outside the nuclear establishment on technical issues relating to nuclear facilities, and no proposed method of enhancing such independent expertise. For these reasons, there will continue to be cause for concern about nuclear safety in the country.

Plan Not, Care Not?

A different structural and institutional problem highlighted by the CAG report has to do with protection of workers from radiation. Earlier, each nuclear plant had a Health Physics Unit that was part of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). However, in 2009, these units were transferred from BARC to NPC. This “meant that the functions of monitoring of radiological exposure as well as the responsibility of radiological surveillance” is now with NPC – the operator of the reactors (p 45). In other words, “AERB had no direct role in conducting independent assessments and monitoring to ensure radiological protection of workers despite being the nuclear regulator of India” (p vii).

The CAG report also shows that the AERB has not exactly been particularly zealous about promoting nuclear safety, illustrating this through a plethora of examples. One is that it never fulfilled an official requirement from 1983 to prepare an overall nuclear and radiation safety policy, which would have given structure to practical radiation safety planning at lower levels. The AERB has not been proactive in participating in emergency planning exercises; the CAG notes that these exercises have highlighted ­inadequate emergency preparedness (p 61). Nor does the AERB have the mandate to take follow-up action with district or state authorities when it detects deficiencies in emergency preparedness (p 60).

The AERB has also not paid any attention to planning for decommissioning nuclear reactors. Nor has NPC. All nuclear plants in the country were operating without any decommissioning plans, including plants that are over 30 years old (p 65). The AERB did put out a safety manual on decommissioning in 1998, but neither the plants that were operating then nor the ones that were commissioned subsequently have produced a decommissioning plan. Now, on paper, each reactor that started operations after 1998 was required to submit such a plan before the AERB issued a construction or operating licence. This leaves two possibilities: The AERB did not insist on NPC following its regulations – or NPC did not bother to comply with the requirement, and there was not much AERB could do about it. Neither of these possibilities is comforting.

The CAG vs the DAE

Though this is the first time the CAG has looked at nuclear regulation, the agency has exposed various other problems with the DAE in its audits from earlier years. It is perhaps the most prominent government body to openly criticise several aspects of the DAE’s functioning. The few examples listed below should ­illustrate the agency’s ongoing monitoring of various facets of the DAE and how the nuclear establishment has fallen short on so many dimensions.

The trend started with the 1985-86 report, which included for the first time an audit of a nuclear power project (Chandrasekharan 1990: 1024).3 In what was to become a pattern, this first report documented cost and time overruns in the case of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS). Approved in 1965 at a cost of Rs 60 crore each, the capital cost more than doubled for each of the reactors, with substantial increases in 14 of 20 expenditure heads, and the projects were delayed by over eight years for each reactor. These “constituted inadequacies in planning of the projects rather than wages of development of indigenous technology” (Chandrasekharan 1990: 1026). Even with inadequate provisions for decommissioning, repairs, waste management, and so on, the CAG found that the rate of return on capital was only 3.5% and not the 12% expected of power projects.

A couple of years later, the CAG found a similar pattern of cost and construction time increases with the Narora reactor, noting that in 10 major heads of expenditure there had been cost overruns of 188% or more (CAG 1988). This was well before the reactor was commissioned, and the final cost figures were significantly higher. What was important was that the CAG’s conclusion that the revision of costs indicated that the project got “approved on unrealistic cost estimates” and its censure of the DAE saying, “Unrealistic cost estimates and optimistic time schedules make financial allocations and controls less meaningful” (CAG 1988).

Some years later, in 1993, the CAG studied yet another reactor – the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) – and found again not only the pattern of cost increases and time overruns, but also that its performance was wanting (CAG 1993). The CAG documented that by the time the reactor first became critical in 1985,4 the net time overrun had become 220% and the corresponding increase in cost had gone up by 164%. The CAG also described several of the incidents and accidents involving the FBTR during just the first five years of operation. These included a nitrogen leak in 1987, followed by “a complex mechanical interaction due to fuel handling error in the reactor damaged certain ‘in-vessel’ components” that took two years to rectify; and the failure of the load cell and damage to the Capsule Transfer Gripper (CTG) in 1989.

Over the years, the CAG has also documented cost increases, time overruns, and/or poor functioning with a number of other nuclear facilities. These include the Tuticorin (Chandrasekharan 1990: 1028-29), Baroda (CAG 1988), and Manuguru heavy water plants (CAG 1994),5 Dhruva research reactor (Chandrasekharan 1990: 1029), Waste Immobilisation Plant (WIP) and Solid Storage Surveillance Facility (S3F) at Tarapur (CAG 1996), the Nuclear Fuel Complex (CAG 1998), and the Nuclear Desalination Demonstration Plant at Kalpakkam (CAG 2008).

In 1999, the CAG audited another aspect of the DAE’s functioning: its propensity for making large-scale expansion plans. Such grandiose projections have been a staple of the DAE’s strategies to garner political and financial support (Ramana forthcoming). In 1984, the DAE drew up a plan to set up 10,000 MW of nuclear power by the year 2000. What actually materialised from the profile was shocking:

Against the targeted additional power generation of 940 MW by 1995-96, gradually increasing to 7,880 MW by 2001 AD, the actual additional generation of power under the profile as of March 1998 was nil in spite of having incurred an expenditure of Rs 5,291.48 crore” (CAG 1999: 20).

The implications of this abject failure to deliver for current projections of nuclear expansion are profound.

This impressive, if depressing, series of reports by the CAG points to an even more depressing reality: the DAE cannot be easily forced to change its ways. For example, despite the CAG’s warning after its Narora case study not to get projects approved on “unrealistic cost estimates and optimistic time schedules”, the DAE continues with this practice till today. Its flagship project – the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor – was initially expected to be commissioned in 2010 (Subramanian 2004), but has been delayed by more than three years; the update from January 2012 was that the reactor would go critical in early 2013 but that would be followed by “a year of testing” before it is declared commercial (IANS 2012). Its cost estimate has gone up from Rs 3,492 crore to Rs 5,677 crore, as of November 2011, when approximately 80% of the work on the reactor had been completed (Srikanth 2011).


Many have written about the nuclear establishment’s safety problems, problems with radiation exposure, accounting problems, and so on (some examples are Bidwai 1978; Subbarao 1998; Gopalakrishnan 1999; Gopalakrishnan 2000; Subbarao 1999; Dias 2005; Ramana 2007; Ramana and Kumar 2010). The CAG’s advantage has been in its access to various documents that would be unavailable to members of the public.6 Put together, the CAG reports, including the latest one, amount to a pretty damning assessment of the DAE and its activities. The CAG has done its bit. It is up to Parliament, and to the population at large, to hold the DAE accountable.


1 As the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission’s Official Report to Japan’s Diet put it, “The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents” (Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission 2012: 16).

2 There are other ways in which the DAE has marginalised the AERB. In the case of the Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant, AERB approval for construction was sought only in 1994 when “construction of the plant was already in progress” (Sundararajan, Parthasarathy and Sinha 2008: 26). What, one wonders, were the odds that AERB would disapprove of the project even if it had found a problem with the design?

3 Earlier reports had, in the words of an official history of the CAG, not included any “worthwhile comments” on the AEC or the DAE “despite the massive expenditure incurred in the development of nuclear energy and connected research and development” all of which was “virtually kept shrouded in mystery and secrecy, except the publicised benefits leaked out to the media by the Department/Commission” (Chandrasekharan 1990: 1024).

4 Even then, the reactor was not fully functional and the steam generator, essential for producing electricity, began operating only in 1993 (Hibbs 1997).

5 We have already written about the case of the CAG and heavy water plants in the pages of this journal (Ramana 2007).

6 The CAG “scrutinised records relating to issue of consents, authorisations, licences, and regulatory inspections; minutes of various committee meetings; utility correspondence files; project reports, etc, during the period September to November 2010 and September to October 2011” (p 5).


Bidwai, Praful (1978): “Nuclear Power in India – A White Elephant?”, Business India, 4 September.

CAG (1988): Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General, New Delhi.

– (1993): Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, New Delhi.

– (1994): Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, New Delhi.

– (1996): Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, New Delhi.

– (1998): Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, New Delhi.

– (1999): Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, New Delhi.

– (2008): Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, New Delhi.

– (2012): Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, New Delhi.

Chandrasekharan, R K (1990): The Comptroller & Auditor General of India: Analytical History 1947-1989 (New Delhi: Ashish Publishing House).

CNS (1994): “INFCIRC/449 – Convention on Nuclear Safety”, http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/Others/inf449.shtml

Dias, Xavier (2005): “DAE’s Gambit”, Economic & Political Weekly, XL (32): 3567-69.

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (2012): The Official Report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (Tokyo: The National Diet of Japan), http://naiic.go.jp/en

Gopalakrishnan, A (1999): “Issues of Nuclear Safety”, Frontline, 13 March. http://www.flonnet.com/fl1606/16060820.htm

– (2000): “Undermining Nuclear Safety”, Frontline, 24 June.

Hibbs, Mark (1997): “Kalpakkam FBR to Double Core, Load First Thorium-232 Blanket”, Nucleonics Week, 38 (48): 10.

IANS (2012): “India’s First PFBR to Go Critical Early 2013”, Zee News, 21 January, http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/igcar-finalises-design-of-commercia…

Jog, Sanjay (2012): “AERB Downplays CAG Report, Says High Safety Standards Maintained”, Business Standard India, 24 August,http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/aerb-downplays-cag-report-sa…

Parthasarathi, Ashok (2007): Technology at the Core: Science and Technology with Indira Gandhi (New Delhi: Pearson Longman).

Parthasarathy, K S (2011): “Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Not Quite Subatomic”, Economic Times, 19 April.

Ramana, M V (2007): “Heavy Subsidies in Heavy Water”, Economic & Political Weekly, XLII (34): 3483-90.

– (forthcoming): The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (New Delhi: Penguin India).

Ramana, M V and Ashwin Kumar (2010): “Safety First? Kaiga and Other Nuclear Stories”, Economic & Political Weekly, XLV (7): 47-54.

Srikanth, R (2011): “80% of Work on Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam Over”, The Hindu, 27 November.

Subbarao, Buddhi Kota (1998): “India’s Nuclear Prowess: False Claims and Tragic Truths”, Manushi, 109: 20-34.

– (1999): “Is Our Nuclear Regulator Effective?”, The Observer of Business and Politics, 9 December.

Subramanian, T S (2004): “A Milestone at Kalpakkam”, Frontline, 19 November.

Sundararajan, A R, K S Parthasarathy and S Sinha, ed. (2008): Atomic Energy Regulatory Board: 25 Years of Safety Regulation, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Mumbai.




Koondakulam Officia lsite evaluation is faulty- Report #antinuke

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note:This report obtained by Kudankulam anti- nuclear  activists from NPCIL under pressure of the RTI Act is presented as rough draft as certain pages were omitted during supply of the copy.
Based on Dianuke website report under the following website.
1.Introduction:  The acceptability of a site for locating a nuclear power plant is dependent not only on site characteristics, related primarily and directly to safety, but also on a large number of other aspects  which are only indirectly related to safety.  These include the reliability and stability of the electrical grid, the adequacy of communications etc.
The siting of nuclear power plant (NPP) generally involves studies in three stages, namely:
1)Site survey stage: The purpose of a site survey is to identify lone or more preferred candidate sites after both safety and non-safety considerations have been taken into account.  This involves the study and investigation of a large region.  It results in the rejection of unacceptable sites, and is followed by systematic screening, and comparison of remaining sites.
2) Site evaluation stage:  This stage involves the study and investigation of one or more of the preferred candidate sites to evaluate their acceptability from various consideration, and in particular from the safety considerations.  The site-related design bases are established at this stage.  Subsequent to this a preliminary safety analysis report is submitted for clearance before site construction is started.
3) Pre-operational stageThis stage includes studies and investigations of the selected site after the start of construction and before the start of operation in order to complete and refine the assessment of site characteristics and to confirm assumptions made in the safety analysis of the reactor as a part of the final safety analysis report.  The base line data on environment are also established at this stage.
The stage one is within the scope of the work of the site selection committee.  The present committee aims to have a preliminary evaluation of the feasibility of a site mainly from safety considerations and ensure that the plant site combination does not constitute an unacceptable risk.  However, in ivew of the fact that some non-safety considerations may affect safety related aspects, such items also have to be studied.  It is to be understood that the present committee has evaluated the site from screening considerations.  The site related design parameters/bases are to be established at appropriate stages.  The review is based on the available information on population and industrial growth and other proposed facilities at and around the site in addition to safety related aspects like seismo-tectonic environment, geology, hydrology, extreme meteorological Phenomenon etc.  The site is evaluated from the following considerations.
1.       Effect of the region of the site on the plant   2. Effect of the plant on the region
3.       Population considerations.
While the first of the above factors decide the safety of the plant due to site related natural and man-induced events, the second factor influences the potential radiological impact from the plant on the environment.  Population consideration is important for emergency planning.
The acceptability of a site for a particular NPP depends on the existence of engineering solution to site related problems which gives assurance that the proposed plant can be built and operated within acceptably low risk to the population of the region.
IAEA guidelines (1,2) have been kept in mind for the site evaluation.
Potential site-specific natural hazards and man-induced events have been evaluated for initial appraisal of their impact on the plant design and the enigneerability under the given circumstances.  Subsequently, these studies form the design bases.
Among the natural hazards, the following aspects as relevant to site have been studied.
i)                    Surface faulting     ii)Seismicity     iii)Suitability of subsurface material
iv)                 Flood and     v)Extreme meteorological phenomena (e.g cyclone)
Because of rocky substrata slope instability, soil liquefaction, surface collapse, subsidence or uplift are not applicable for the present site.
Man-induced events include accidents due to
i)                    Air traffic        ii)Vehicular road traffic
ii)                   Industrial and Military activities in the immediate vicinity of the site.
Capability of dispersion in air and water are studied for possible radiological impact on environment. The availability of adequate cooling water supply for the ultimate Heat Sink is the central safety issue.  Feasibility of implementing effective emergency actions has also been considered.
        (Economic, Technical, Environmental and Social Aspects)
These are primarily related to engineering feasibility.  However, some of the factors may indirectly be related to the safety of the NPP.
The factors considered are:   i)Electricity network  ii)Availability of cooling water iii) Transport routes
iv) Topography   v)Industrial support at site  vi) Non-radiological impact on the environment (e.g.. chemical and thermal pollution, industrial growth and its impact etc.)
The committee has studied all site related data submitted by NPC (3,4,5) and has, in accordance with the criteria mentioned above, made a review of the suitability of the Kudankulam site for locating nuclear power station having two units of 1000 MWe VVER reactor.
The review findings are presented in Tables I and II
 The committee recommends that the following actions should be taken at appropriate stages.
1)      ODC committee of NPC to evaluate suitability of transportation of ODC at design stage
2)      Maximum Flood Level should be estimated accurately considering IAEA safety Guide 50-SG-S10B.  Revised report of CWPRS should be submitted to Design Safety Committee.
3)      Analysis for the quality of construction water is to be carried out.
4)      In order to enhance additional reliability for water Supply, which is essential for functioning of various safety systems of the reactor, intake well at Pechiparai Dam should be provided at lower elevation than the minimum draw-down level of the reservoir.  However, it should be ensured by proper management of water distribution that the water level is maintained above this minimum level.
5)      Adequate storage of fresh water for prolonged safe shutdown of the reactors is to be provided within plant boundary for safety related systems.  Ground water source should be explored.
6)      Environmental Survey laboratory should be set up at site and instruments are to be installed at site to collect meteorological data and background radiation.
7)      Site related design considerations such as seismic aspects, etc are to be established before submission of PSAR.
8)      The committee has been informed that detail subsoil investigations have been carried out (12).  Bore-hole investigations are to be carried out at the proposed location of various buildings and structures.  The report should be forwarded to design group for taking into account at the time of actual design.
9)      Power evacuation studies particularly that influence the plant grid interaction should be persued.  Feasibility of operation on islanding mode may be studied in collaboration with CEA.  In addition availability of a reliable (dedicated) startup power source of adequate capacity should be examined.
10)   Stipulations made by various state and central authorities in giving clearance, should be met.  In addition, plantation in the area under control of the project should be taken up along with site development.
11)    Tamilnadu legislation to control population growth beyond natural growth within the sterilized zone is to be implemented.
12)   Termination of the lease in 1994 for lime stone quarry.
1.       Radiological impact should be assessed with proper source terms and relevant dispersion characteristics of the site.  Dose limits prescribed should be met at a distance of 1.6km in event of greater exclusion radius adopted by NPC.
2.       Stack height to be checked by Health Physics Division,BARC, considering topography and dispersion characteristics.
3.        Model studies should be taken up for intake and outfall structure for thermal pollution and recirculation.
4.       Studies on Biofouling and jelly-fish etc. that may affect the water supply should be taken up.
5.       Studies on accretion/erosion rate around the plant site should be carried out.  If required, proper protection should be provided.
6.       Design should be engineered to meet site related design basis events.
7.        Atleast two evacuation routes from plant site during an emergency should be provided.
The committee is of the opinion that Kudankulam site meets the major criteria for siting 2 x 1000 MWe VVER units.  The Committee at the same time recommends that the observations made in the preface and the actions recommended in Section 3 above need to be implemented at appropriate stages.
1.       IAEA – Code of Practice on Safety in Nuclear Power Plant Siting.  IAEA Safety Series No.50-C-S International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 1979
2.       Site Survey for Nuclear Power Plants.  IAEA Safety series No. 50-SG-S9.  IAEA(1984)
3.       Environmental data on proposed Kudankulam site for submission to Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board for 2 x 1000 MWe VVER nuclear power station.
4.       Write up on Kudankulam site – DAE
5.       Siting data in AERB standard format.  (Received from NPC vide letter NPC/KK/24/1032, dt.7-3-89
6.       Layout of main plant building for 2 x 1000 MWe VVER project at Kudankulam
7.       CWPRS Pune Report: “Safe Grade Elevation for the proposed nuclear power station at Kudankulam,  Tamilnadu
8.       Draft report on Earthquake design basis for Kudankulam site, DAE, 1988 – A.K Ghosh and DC Banerjee.
9.       Appendix to Part-I of Site Selection Committee report
10.   Power Transmission system for Kudankulam Atomic Power Project -CEA report
11.   Letter NPC/KK/24 dated 16-3-89 received from NPC
12.   Brief note from NPC on “Geological setup of Kudankulam site”.
T A B L E -1
Site characteristics Influencing the NPP
Specification/Desirable Characteristics
Observations for Kudankulam site
Plain topography
Plain topography-elevation+3m to 45m above MSL.  Area measuring 1Km to 2Km available (3), (6)
Terrain suitable sufficient land available for future expansion
i) Nearest Broadgauge rail head
Kanyakumari(27Km), Valliyur (27Km)
Recommendation for ODC transport
1)All consignments/equipments with weight (30Ton: USSR-tutitorin by ship Tuticorin-site: by road or on barges by sea route
2) All consignments (30 ton USSR-site: by ship and barges. To be unloaded at jetty within the plant
ii)Nearest National Highway
NH7 at Kanyakumari 27Km, Valliyur 27Km,
iii) Nearest Seaport
 Tuticorin (100Km)
iv) Nearest district road
Coastal road 4Km
Construction Facilities
i)Construction materials
Coarse aggregates available at Anjugrarer (4km).  Sand available at Ratucenathjewari   road (7km) Bricks available at Panagudi (27km)
More sources will be established at construction stage.
ii)Construction power
26KVA +2 KVA for township
Panagudi sub-station (27Km)  – 110KV line exists. 110KV line from Kodyar power station is also being considered.
iii)Construction water
3.5 cu.sec (350 cu.m per hour
Initially limited supply to be tapped from ground water sources.  Subsequently the demand will be met from Pechiparai dam
Quality of construction water is likely to be acceptable.  Analysis of water will be carried out.
iv)Infrastructure facilities (e.g minor workshop etc)
Nagercoil (30km) and Tuticorin (100km)
Availability of Power Supply and Transmission Lines
i)Start-up Power
50KVA per unit
Available from main state grid and Tuticorin Thermal Power Station Plant (630MW) 220KV line to be drawn from Tuticorin.
ii)Power evacuation scheme
Feasible as per preliminary study conducted by CEA.  Detail study is in progress
Present grid capacity 12832 MWe.  Nuclear 470MWe. Projected capacity in 1995 will be 27541MWe.  Nuclear  1910 MWe
Availability of Water
i)Condenser cooling
6000 Cu sec
(on once-through basis)
Sea water cooling on once-through basis silt content:60-100 ppm Particle size75 microns.Temperature:26-29 oC
No constraint. Titanium tubes will be used.  Study on biofouling and jelly fish that may affect the water supply will be taken at design stage.  Model study will be taken up for intake and outfall structure(5)
ii)Fresh water for make-up and domestic use
10 cu sec
Assured by State Government.  One pipeline from Pechiparai dam (at 65km) to be laid. pH:7.  Dissolved solids:25mg/litre,  Suspended solids:negligible, Turbidity:5mg/l (5)
Dam storage 4.45 TMC ft. Dead storage can account for 3 years drought (5)
400 acres
400 acres of land identified near Chettikulam village about 7km from the site (3)
Site Characteristics Influencing the NPP
Specification/Desirable Characteristics
Observations for Kudankulam site
i)Foundation conditions depths of bed rock and type
Bed rock at 5-16m below ground. Biotite granite genesis with lenticular bodies of charnockites or quartzites
ii) Strength
Maximum intensity of loading 6kg/sq.cm at RB
Dry strength : 650kg/sq.cm
Wet strength: 450 kg/sq.cm(5)
iii)Ground water
Below 1m
5-8 m below ground – gradient towards sea (5)
Natural events:
i)Coastal erosion
Erosion insignificant with respect to life of station. Nearest main plant structure from shore about 120m away from the sea base line
Layout for the main plant still under consideration figure of 120 tons estimate on the basis on 7 ton as the ground elevation at main plant building.
Maximum flood level considering tidal range wave run-up and maximum stage surge 5.9m above chart datam of 0.0 Exposed structures placed well above this level. (7)
Grade level around Reactor Building will be above 7m from MSL.
Revised report on MFL from CWPRS awaited.  Grade elevation will be changed if necessary.
Not significant as per preliminary report of CWPRS
1m height of wave considered due to tsunami effect.
iv)Wind, storm, Cyclone
Maximum speed of storm:112km/hr. Storm surge accounted for in flooding. Exceedance probability 5% as per preliminary repsort from CWPRS.
Engineering capability to design for wind load exists.
v)Slope instability
Not applicable for rocky substrata
Vi)Soil liquefaction
Not applicable for rocky substrata
vii)Seismotectonic environment
No active fault within 5km of NPP. Engineering capability for stipulated earthquake acceleration should be possible
No active fault within 5km. Site is in seismic zoneII as per IS 1893; 1984. Nearest epicenter at Trivandrum (90km) earthquake in the region.
Magnitude 6 at Coimbatore (8 Feb, 1900) (300 km) Estimated peak horizontal acceleration for SSE is 0.15g and for OBE is 0.06g.
Engineering capability to design for such earthquake loads exists. Seismic evaluation report finalized after discussion with GSI and Soviet Specialists.  Further ground checks have confirmed the assumptions regarding the nearest
Use of Land
Within in the exclusion zone: 34% of area lies in sea.  Remaining 650-750 ha of land (no forest), mostly private owned, is barren and unirrigated/poorly cultivable.  Extremely limited agriculture.  Annual yield: 20 tons of  millet and 2 tons of cotton
Within 10km radius area: 60% of area lies in Sea. Remaining land is barren or used for agriculture.  Annual yield:Paddy 14400 tons, millet 4300 tons, chillir 3000 tonnes, tobacco 380 tons, pulses 830 tons, cotton 250 tons, oil seeds 70 tons (4)
A lime stone quarry of about 70 acres falls within the sterilized zone.  The lease for this area expires in 1994.  Termination of the lease beyond the period has been requested.
Use of Water
Ground water, limited in supply is used for drinking andhas a gradient towards the sea.  No salt pans within 5km. The degree of development of fisheries is as common as in a coastal belt.   In the near by area, indinthakarai, Koothapuzh, Koothankuzhi and Perurranal are the fishing villages within 20km and annual fish produce of about 4000 tons in the area is reported.  About 3900 fisherman in these villages are engaged infishing as per information furnished in 1982.  At Chinneruttar near Kanyakumari, a fishing harbor is being developed. (4)
Disposal of Radioactive waste from the NPP
i)Solid waste
Low level solid waste to be buried within exclusion zone in leak-proof RCC vaults/trenches/tile holes.  160-180 m cu per year of  cemented waste including spent absorption materials, 40m cu/yr of compacted waste and 5 m cu/yr of cemented ash will be generated from one reactor (5)
Borewells surrounding the solid waste burial area will be provided for monitoring migration of activities.
ii)Liquid waste
To be diluted to 2 x 10E-7 micro Ci/ml when discharged into the sea.
Most of the radioactivity in the liquid is removed in the Ion exchange resin and as evaporator concentrate.  After above processing the liquid effluent from two units is estimated as 6000 m Cu/year with activity levels lesser or equal to 10E-9 Ci/l.  This will be further diluted by condenser cooling water to meet the limits allowed by AERB
6000 cusecs of sea water available for dilution while sea water less than 1 cusec required to achieve the specified limits.
iii)Gas release
Stack height is 100m. Use of high efficiency (0.3 micron) particulate absolute filter will help to comply with authorized limits for particulate activity. The estimated gaseous discharges from two units as following.
Nuclides          Avg daily
Noble gases–       2220
I-131             30 x 10E-4
Long life             0.012
Short life            0.26
It is understood that specific detailed information regarding waste and radioactive releases will be available along with PSAR for review
i)during normal operation
AERB prescribed limits
Based on releases vide para7, preliminary estimates indicate very low dose rates 11.24 mrem/yr to the individual at 1.6km exclusion radius.  Both the water and air routes have been considered in the above estimates.
ii)During design basis accident conditions
10 rem for whole body, 50 rem for child thyroid at exclusion radius
For all design basis accidents adequate engineering safety features shall be  provided to meet the specified requirements.
DBA calculations will be carried out at the design stage
Thermal Pollution
Not significant.  Intake and outfall will be well separated.  Depth of sea water and large dilution due to sea will avoid thermal pollution
Model studies will be carried out at CWPRS Pune.  The requirements of Tamilnadu pollution Control Board should be met
Storage and Transportation of Fresh and spent fuel
Space for storage of fresh fuel for 5 years plus one core charge will be provided.  Each unit layout can store spent fuel of 5 reactor years in the spent fuel pool located inside the containment.  Besides this space will be available to unload one core inventory.
50 ton of spent fuel will be discharged annually from the 2 reactors.  After adequate cooling inside the pool, it will be shipped to Soviet Union by sea route in hermatically sealed casks.  Special jetty provided within the plant area will be used for transfer of cask to the Soviet ships so that spent fuel remains within plant boundary at all stages during the process of shipment of irradiated.
Fuel Reprocessing facility
Reprocessing not planned at this site
Population considerations
i) Population within 2km radius exclusion zone
No habitation
No resident population
ii)Population within 5km radius sterilized zone
Less than 26,000 population density (2/3  state average.
Total population:15,000, 3 villages in this area Kudankulam, Idinthakarai and Erukkanatharam
Tamilnadu legislation to control population growth beyond natural growth within the sterilized zone to be implemented.
iii)Population within 10km radius zone
No center >10,000
No population centre with more than 10,000 people.  total population 40,842 (1961 census). Population density:130 persons/sq.km
iv)Population within 30km radius zone
No center >1,00,000
No population center with more than 1 lakh people.  11 centers have population more than 10,000  Nagercoil (at 30 km has a population of 1,71,641.
v) Population within 50km radius zone
33 population centers with population more than 10,000 (4)
Emergency Preparedness Considerations
3 routes exist for possible evacuation.  Schools and other public buildings exist for adequate temporary shelter, nagercoil (30km), Tirunelveli (100km) and Tuticorin (100km) can providerehabilitation medical facilities and administrative support
Draft proposal on off-site emergency preparedness plans already submitted to AERB.
 Additional Statutory requirements of the Central and State Government
Clearance for the following has been obtained:
Tamilnadu pollution control Board, Shore protection committee of Tamilnadu Government, State Committee on Environment, Minister of Environment and Forests (Government of India)
Stipulations made in the clearance documents should be adhered to.

Dear Prime Minister, are you listening to the right people, Sir?


Anuj Wankhede

The Prime Minister of India – on Wednesday May 16, 2012- made a statement on the floor of the House regarding the safety of the civilian nuclear facilities in the country.

Even WITHOUT a natural disaster, here is a list of publicly available Civilian Installation incidents that have already occurred within the country.

How dare he mislead the nation in this way? Nuclear accidents are not road and railway accidents, which happen almost daily in our country.

Why are you considering data only AFTER Fukushima? And telling the House that we are safe?

Here is our previous to Fukushima record -

4 May 1987 – Kalpakkam
Fast Breeder Test Reactor at Kalpakkam.
Refueling accident ruptures the reactor core resulting in a two-year shutdown.

10 Sep 1989 – Tarapur, Maharashtra
After operators at the Tarapur Atomic Power Station find reactor leaking radioactive Iodine at more than 700 times normal levels, repairs to the reactor take more than a year.

13 May 1992 – Tarapur, Maharashtra
A malfunctioning tube causes the Tarapur Atomic Power Station to release 12 curies of radioactivity.

31 Mar 1993 – Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh
The Narora Atomic Power Station suffers a fire at two of its steam turbine blades, damaging the heavy water reactor and almost leading to a meltdown.

2 Feb 1995 – Kota, Rajasthan
The Power Station leaks radioactive helium and heavy water into the
Rana Pratap Sagar River necessitating a two-year shutdown for repairs.

22 Oct 2002 – Kalpakkam
Almost 100 kg radioactive sodium at a fast breeder reactor leaks into a purification cabin, ruining a number of valves and operating systems.

Sir, you ‘may’ be a honorable man. But then who is giving you wrong information? As a man of economics, you may not be aware of the seriousness of these incidents.

We, the citizens of the country, fear for the worst, especially considering the disastrous experiences of past accidents and natural disasters in India.

We do not expect timely relief.

We do not expect evacuation.

We do not expect rehabilitation.

We do not expect compensation.

We do not expect justice.

We do not even expect truth from the establishment.


We will tell you the ways to progress without Nuclear Energy. We have enough scientists who say NO to nuclear power and who are willing to show you the way.

Are you listening, Sir?
Your democracy asks you!

‘Areva reactor meets advanced safety requirements’

English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

Image via Wikipedia

NEW DELHI, February 9, 2012

R. Ramachandran

There will be no additional cost to the EPR 1650 MWe Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR), a Generation III+ nuclear reactor developed by Areva of France, in complying with the additional safety requirements recommended by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) in its Complementary Safety Assessment (CSA) report submitted in January. This was stated by Dr. Bernard Bigot, Chairman of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), at a press briefing on Wednesday.

The proposed NPP at Jaitapur in Maharashtra will be based on the EPR 1650 MWe nuclear reactor systems. The NPP at Jaitapur will be essentially the same as the EPR being built at Flamanville 3 in France. An application for authorisation of a similar reactor at Penly in France is pending.

These additional safety requirements recommended by ASN were based on the new ‘European Stress Tests’ on French nuclear power plants (NPPs) in the post-Fukushima context. These tests had been recommended by the European Council in March 2011. According to the European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Group (ENSREG), ‘stress test’ is a “targeted reassessment of the safety margins of NPPs in the light of events which occurred at Fukushima: extreme natural events challenging the plant safety functions and leading to a severe accident.”

The briefing by Dr. Bigot was following his presentation of the CSA to the Indian authorities and his interaction with officials of the Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in New Delhi, including Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).

This CSA report of ASN will be studied by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) before the final contract with Areva is inked by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), the operator of the NPP.

“The EPR design is well suited to cope with the extra safety requirements and even in the worst case [scenario] the reactor will be safe,” Dr. Bigot said.

“For the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor,” says the CSA report, “ASN considers that the safety objectives and the strengthened design of this type of reactor already offer improved protection against severe accidents. Its design in particular takes account of and incorporates measures to deal with the possibility of accidents with a core melt and combinations of hazards. Furthermore, all the systems necessary for the management of accident situations, even severe, are designed to remain operational for an earthquake or a flood as defined in the baseline safety requirements.”

While submitting its report, ASN proposed a ‘hard-core’ of material and organisational measures for each facility, specifications and procedures, which have to be met by June 30. The ‘hard-core’ will comprise:

— crisis management premises and equipment;

— means of communication and alert;

— technical and environmental monitoring instrumentation;

— operational dosimetry resources for workers;

— strengthened equipment including an electricity generating set and water supply for emergency cooling down of each reactor.

These measures, according to an ASN statement of January 3, “will ensure ultimate protection of the facilities with three objectives:

— prevent a severe accident or limit its progression;

— limit large scale releases in the event of an accident which it was not possible to control;

— enable the licensee to perform its emergency management duties.”

“The design of the EPR reactor,” says the CSA report, “which already offers improved protection against severe accidents, should make it easier to create its ‘hard-core’.” According to the report, the French utility company Électricité de France (EDF) will be identifying the existing or additional systems to be included in the ‘hard-core,’ in particular to control the pressure in the containment in the event of a severe accident.

Towards this, ASN has recommended the creation and deployment of the ‘Nuclear Rapid Response Force (FARN)’, as proposed by EDF, by the end of 2012. FARN will comprise specialist crews and equipment able to take over from the personnel on a site affected by an accident and deploy additional emergency response resources in less than 24 hours, with operations beginning on the site within 12 hours. Dr. Bigot noted that Fukushima was not prepared in this respect and suffered from a lack of trained personnel on site. Finding appropriate workforce for FARN may itself pose a problem, he observed.