Open letter by Dr. EAS Sarma, Former Secretary in Power Ministry, Government of India, to the Department of Atomic Energy –

E.A.S.Sarma
14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road
Maharanipeta
Visakhapatnam 530002
Mobile: 919866021646
Email: [email protected]

To

Dr. Sekhar Basu
Secretary
Dept of Atomic Energy (DAE)
Govt of India

Shri K D Tripathi
Secretary
Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MPNG)
Govt of India

Dear Dr. Basu/ Tripathi,

Subject:- Substandard parts supplied by Areva company and its subsidiary, Creusot Forge, to IOC and several nuclear power plants in the world- Request initiate action to blacklist the company for doing business in India

I enclose the following three documents, the first two being announcements by the statutory nuclear regulatory authority in France and the third one, a DNA news report relevant to those announcements.

Creusot Forge is a subsidiary of Areva, the French company, which has signed an MOU with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for supplying nuclear reactors for the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power project (6 X1650MWe) in Maharashtra. This is also a part of the India-France Joint Statement signed by the Indian Prime Minister with his counterpart in France during the former’s visit to France in April, 2015.

According to the official report released by the French Nuclear Regylatory authority, Areva/ Creusot Forge have not only supplied uncertified, substandard components to nuclear power projects, oil refineries etc. worldwide but also tried to cover up that fact, even after the authority had asked the company to come up with the factual position. Some of these substandard components were supplied in the past to Indian Oil Corporation (IOC)’s refneries.

MPNG and DAE may like to secure a copy of the detailed report from the French nuclear regulatory authority to ascertain the position.

The following points emerge from the above reports.

  1. Critical components manufactured for oil, gas and nuclear plants as well as refineries since 1965 may have been compromised. Creusot Forge claims to have supplied 2,300 forged parts for oil and gas installations and 2,700 such parts for nuclear primary islands throughout the world. The website particularly names Indian Oil Corporation Ltd as one its clients.
  2. The scandal came to light last year when defects were found in AREVA’s EPR reactors vessel head in Flamanville, France. The defects in Flamanville reactors are substantial defects with a possible impact on all existing EPR projects currently underway. India has signed an MOU with AREVA/EDF to build six of these reactors in India.
  3. This is a case of deliberate cover up on the part of Areva and its subsidiary.
  4. The company’s dealings as indicated by these reports raise an apprehension about its corporate ethics. While the substandard components supplied by Areva and its subsidiaries to other industrial unirs will certainly have caused a great deal of damage, the use of substandard parts in a nuclear power project raises far more serious apprehensions in regard to public safety. A Fukushima-like accident can occur at Jaitapur as a result of any malfeasance on the part of Areva.

Against this background, I believe that the latest revelations by the French nuclear regulatory authority need to be taken seriously. I request you to consider intiating action as follows.

  1. Secure a copy of the report available with the French nuclear regulatory authority on Areva and ascertain the damage already caused to IOC and the other cmpanies in India which have obtained components from Areva and its subsidiaries for their industrial units
  2. If any malfeasance is detected, blacklist Areva and its subsidiaries with immediate effect with respect to its future operations in India in all sectors
  3. Advise the Indian companies affected by Areva’s substandard components to sue the company and prosecute it for criminal negligence.

Areva has also been involved in a uranium mining scandal which has come under judicial scrutiny in France as indicated in a news report dated 2-5-2016 (BREAKING: The Uramin Scandal – another shocker for AIM, damning Canadian Report & arrests in France » Views & News | ShareProphets). This raises another major concern in so far as the MOU that the DAE has signed with the company. Since the selection of Areva as the reactor supplier for Jaitapur is based on a highly non-transparent, single-bidder approach, as in the case of the scandal surrounding the acquisition of Augusta Westland helicopters by the Ministry of Defence, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh State governments, it is possible that there are middlemen taking part in the price negotiation process and there is considerable scope for rent seeking. This needs to be carefully investigated before any final decisions are to be taken on Areva’s involvement in the Jaitapur project.

The problem of substandard components being used in nuclear power projects is a widespread one. Some of us had, in the past, brought to the notice of the Central government and the DAE that there were indications of substandard cables and other equipment and parts being used in Kudankulam nuclear power project. I enclose a copy of my letter dated 2-6-2013 addressed to the PM on the subject. We failed to receive any meaningful response on this from the DAE.

In this connection, I enclose a copy of a news report dated 26-3-2011 (25-3-2011) in Christian Science Monitor, according to which a significant number of nuclear power stations in the US deliberately suppress information on the use of substandard parts. This had come to the notice of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

I hope that the DAE will realise the gravity of what the French nuclear regulator has revealed and act quickly to safeguard the public interest.

Regards,

Yours sincerely,
E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI
Visakhapatnam
15-5-2016