THEIR ROUTINE RELEASES  AND OUR CHILDREN’S HEALTH

V T Padmanabhan

2000 families live in CASANAGAR: hardly 700 meters away from the KKNPP

The tallest structure in all nuclear campuses is a stack.  The owners of the reactors say that they do not release any radionuclide in the environment.  This statement is only partly true.  They do release things which they think will mix in the global atmosphere and will have no impact on people.  These releases are necessary for the health of the reactors.  Most of the stacks are 60 meters high.  The height of the stack is determined after a complicated mathematical modeling.  The main consideration is that the released gases and particles should not reenter the campus.  The same kind of modeling is done when they decide on the location of their township.  The township built for the Chernobyl staff after the accident was 45 km away.  Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) township is only 15 km from the reactors.

What do they release through the stacks?  Lots of stuffs.  Some 10 odd gaseous isotopes generally labeled as noble gases, tritium an isotope of hydrogen, iodine and particulates.  Inside the stack, there are monitors that record the releases on a regular basis.  The summary of the emissions are reported to the United Nations Scientific Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation (www.unscear.org). Reporting is voluntary and there is no way one can check the correctness of the data.  Many countries do not report their releases.  Reporting is incomplete for many of the countries.  UNSCEAR publishes these self-reported data in their reports published once every five years. Data for India is not available since 1995.

The latest report has data for 1998-2002. Data is incomplete in most of the cases.  What are the releases from a VVER reactor?  There is no data from Russia.  There are more or less complete data fro Hungary and Finland.  In Hungary in 2002 four VVER reactors generated 1,609 MW of electricity.  The releases from these reactors per 1000 MW (e) per year are given in table below. (For those who are not familiar with the scientific way of looking at large numbers, 3E+13 means that after 3 you have to add 13 zeros.  Which means release of noble gases in a year from these reactors is 13 trillion Becquerel (Bq = one disintegration per second).  Since these are very large numbers, I have also given releases per second in column 3.  Even those are fairly large, but we can talk about them with numbers we normally use in our discourses.

ROUTINE RELEASES FROM A VVER REACTOR

IN HUNGARY – 2002 – DISINEGRATIONS PER SECOND

Isotopes

Half life

One

One

Year

Second

Noble gases

Diverse

3E+13

1103635

3H  Tritium

12.3 years

4E+12

124159

Iodine

8.3 days

5E+07

2

14Carbon

5745 years

5E+11

14387

Particulates

Diverse

1E+13

431600

Total

5E+13

1673782

UNSCEAR 2009, Tables A5 to A9

All the gases and particulates released in one second will give 1.67 million disintegrations in a second till the end of their first half life.  If you breath that air containing all the emissions of one second, 1.67 million pico-bullets will hit your respiratory tract every second till they remain there.  Some of these will get absorbed in the body and keep on firing at the cells wherever they are. Two tritium atoms will combine with an oxygen atom and become water.  Water is everywhere in the body.

If you live closer to the reactor site, you will breath in more of these than those living at 15 km or 500 km away.  Since the designers have ensured that they do not enter the campus, it will be outsiders who are at risk.  There are 450 families living at a distance of 1.2 km away from the reactor.  These people started living there only four years ago in a tsunami township built.  This township is known as CASA-Nagar as it was built with the generous donations of the Churches Auxillary for Social Action (CASA).  Since the houses were built on government land the  title deeds were given by the government.  CASA Nagar title deeds have a special clause, according to which, in the case of any disaster, they will have to vacate the houses within short notice and they are entitled for any compensation.

CASA Nagar is in the sterilized zone of KKNPP.  This means there should be no artificial population growth.  NPCIL had no role in the tsunami rehabilitation. It is not good to keep children and women in such a high risk area.  Moving them away to places closer to their pre-tsunami habitation will be the only solution.  If that is done and if the reactors start functioning, in another five years, we will have to address a major public health crisis and witness a Chernobyl in slow motion.

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31 Oct 2011