PUCL Report: Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project misleading


 

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

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

 

The first reactor of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant is being readied by the Nuclear Power  Corporation of India (NPCIL) for loading its nuclear fuel. Conducting site and offsite emergency  preparedness exercises are the legally mandatory norms that should be followed in order to get the  license from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) for loading this fuel. The district authorities are responsible for conducting the offsite emergency exercises with the guidance from the KKNPP  Environment Survey Lab.

 
The district authorities visited Nakkaneri, a tiny hamlet 7 km away from KKNPP on 9 June 2012 morning along with AERB, DAE and NPCIL officials. They issued a press statement in the evening that the offsite emergency training comprising three stages had been completed successfully. However, there were  news reports that countered this assertion.  Keeping the 11 March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in mind, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) 1contemplated to conduct a fact finding mission that would shed light on the way the offsite  emergency exercise was conducted at the village. The fact finding mission members travelled to
Nakkaneri village on two separate days (13th and 20th June).

 

People of the village were interviewed.  Signed written and video affidavits were obtained from them. From the interviews with the local people, it is learnt that the district authorities did not inform the people or their representatives about the exercise that follows an offsite nuclear accident. They spent a few hours in the village but did not do any of the legally mandatory work. Then they left the village.

 

They  issued a press statement saying that the offsite emergency training comprising three stages had been  completed successfully. PUCL investigation revealed that the main content of the press note released by  the Collector following the event was indeed false. Also, it was found that the Environment Survey Lab  of KKNPP authorities have made a very big mistake by identifying an upwind site as a downwind one.

 

KKNPP is located in a windmill region. The capacity of the rotating blades of the windmills to disperse  the radioactive plume into the local micro environment has not been studied so far by the scientists of AERB.

 

Based on these findings, nine recommendations have been made. They include that the Governments of  India and Tamil Nadu should declare the Offsite Emergency Preparedness Exercise ‘reportedly’conducted on 9 June 2012 at Nakkaneri village as null and void. As no exercise was conducted it was a mockery on all the national and international regulatory codes. This warrants an appropriate action  against all concerned.

 

 

 

Full report can be downloaded here

 

 

 

Bumpy road ahead for India’s nuclear programme


Kalyan Ray, New Delhi, April 7, 2012, DHNS:

Post Kudankulam, Indian nuclear establishment promises to take the people along and give more emphasis to local area development before embarking on any new nuclear project in the future. At least eight sites have already been identified for setting up green field nuclear power plants and more states have come forward with proposals to set up nuclear power plants in their states.

The anti-nuclear protests are now likely to shift to Jaitapur in coastal Maharashtra that has already witnessed a sea of protests against land acquisition. The activists added fuel to the fire by claiming that six 1650 MW French EPR reactors to be installed at Jaitapur would destroy the livelihood of fishermen and ruin the biodiversity.

As protests intensified, Maharashtra government took several administrative steps, including framing a new rehabilitation package to calm down frayed nerves and brokered at least a temporary truce. But the agitators, in all likelihood, will return to Jaitapur – described as an ideal site for nuclear power plants by the Department of atomic energy (DAE) – once the actual construction work starts.

In Jaitapur, land acquisition is through and a few ancillary constructions completed in the last one and a half years. The wait now is for finalisation of the techno-commercial agreement between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and French major Areva, after which the DAE would seek Union Cabinet’s approval for building the first two units by 2020. The delay in Jaitapur project was due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster after which India insisted on a French official review of the EPR designs. India received the review in January 2012 and subsequently NPCIL and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board analysed it. With the EPR review in its pocket, the DAE hopes to close the French deal in 2012.

The large 700 MW units to be constructed by NPCIL in existing sites would not pose any problem as the land is already available with DAE, which is constructing two 700 MW units each in Kakrapar (Gujarat) and Rawatbhata (Rajasthan). The Rs 11,459 crore third and fourth units at Kakrapar are scheduled to be ready by 2015-16, whereas Rs 12,320 crore seventh and eighth units at Rawatbhata would be completed by 2016-17.

“We will set up two more 700 MW units in Kaiga for which forest clearance is required. This is being obtained,” DAE secretary and Atomic Energy Commission chairman Srikumar Banerjee told Deccan Herald. Narora in Uttar Pradesh will also house two new 700 MW nuclear reactors.

Bigger challenge

But it is the green field sites that will throw up greater challenge to DAE and NPCIL. The new sites for large scale indigenous reactors are Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan, Bhimpur and Chutka in Madhya Pradesh and Gorakhpur in Haryana. In addition, the government approved four sites – Haripur in West Bengal, Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh and ChhayaMithi Virdi in Gujarat – for foreign suppliers from Russia, France and USA to set up 30 nuclear power plants with a total installed capacity of 33,900 MW. As the road map has become ambitious, the nuclear establishment is bracing up for the battle.

The opposition is usually on two grounds – land acquisition and anti-nuclear sentiment that received a fillip worldwide after Fukushima. The DAE plans a detailed neighbourhood development programme as a counter tactic. “We will take the local people along. The focus is more on secondary job creation and improving the quality of life through neighbourhood development. We will support setting up of schools and hospital in the vicinity of a nuclear plant and their running,” Banerjee said.

Added emphasis on extensive communication is the most critical lesson learnt post Fukushima and Kudankulam. The communication, said former AEC chairman and principal scientific advisor to the Union Cabinet R Chidambaram, had to be comprehensive and concise. “Public is not an empty container to be filled up by information. They have their own preoccupation,” Chidambaram said, adding that partial scientific literacy (often propagated by anti nuclear activists) was more dangerous than scientific illiteracy.

Road blocks

A new battle front seems to be opening up in Haryana where the department is in the process of acquiring 1,504 acres of land from Haryana government to set up nuclear power plants. “Most of the formalities have been completed to acquire the land for public purpose. However, the actual awarding of the land to NPCIL is yet to be completed,” said T R Arora, an executive engineer in charge of the land acquisition process in Haryana. The nuclear plant is being opposed by Lok Sabha Member Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal. In West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government too is totally opposed to nuclear plants coming up at Haripur.

The road ahead certainly looks bumpy for the nuclear establishment.

Stop criminalising protests against KNPP


EDITORIAL, The Hindu
April 6, 2012

Don’t lose the plot now

The continuing efforts to criminalise protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project and portray all opposition to nuclear energy as anti-national must be unequivocally condemned. For over seven months, a popular protest, with wide public participation, went on in the vicinity of Kudankulam without a single incident of violence. An indefinite fast against the Tamil Nadu government‘s decision to facilitate the commissioning of the plant has now been given up, but low-key protests continue. The government has managed to get the project going again after months of inactivity. Yet, the State has shown no compunction in invoking drastic legal provisions — such as those relating to waging war against the government, and sedition — against key participants in the agitation. The police in Tamil Nadu are preparing formally to lay serious charges against those perceived to have “instigated” the anti-nuclear agitation; the only concession they seem to make to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India is to promise that those who ‘innocently’ participated in the protests will not be prosecuted. Regardless of one’s opinion about the desirability of nuclear power, the imputation that organising protests against a nuclear plant amounts to waging war on the State or promoting disaffection against the government has no place in a democracy.

Non-governmental organisations linked to the protesters are facing a probe about whether foreign contributions meant for charity were diverted to fund the agitation. This may be explained as a legitimate exercise by the Union Home Ministry, which regulates the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. However, the spate of arrests by the State police and the plan to prosecute protesters under extraordinary provisions of the law give the impression of a witch hunt. Also disturbing is the tendency to seek to demonstrate that ‘extremists’ or ‘Maoists‘ have infiltrated the protests. A government that went out of the way to ensure peace during the prolonged agitation and which gave a necessary pause to the project until its full implications were explained to the public should not lose the plot now and waste its energies on pursuing the prosecution of protesters, be they the ones derisively dubbed “professional agitators” or those supposedly duped into participating in agitations. The larger issue of keeping the people on board always and allaying fears about safety is a long-term obligation that the Central and State governments cannot evade. Nothing can be more perverse than pursuing punitive measures used by colonial rulers in the pre-Independence era to repress democratic protests against the decisions and policies of elected governments.

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