IAEA’s Denial Mode on Fukushima: Dr. EAS Sarma’s letter to Yukiya Amano

Dr. E A S Sarma

Former Union Power Secretary, Govt of India

Know more about Dr. Sarma HERE.

ALSO: Letter to PM by Admiral L. Ramdas on the same issue

14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road
Visakhapatnam 530002
Mobile: 919866021646
Email: eassarma@gmail.com

Mr. Yukiya Amano
Director General

Dear Mr. Amano,

I wish to take you back to an ominous statement made in IAEA’s Nuclear Safety Review in 2010.

“plans for some new nuclear power programmes are moving faster than the establishment of the necessary safety infrastructure and capacity”

A year later, disaster struck at Fukushima reminding the global community that the above statement, though appropriate and timely, lacked substance and adequate follow up. Two years and more after Fukushima, IAEA and its members, guided largely by the global nuclear establishment, seem to be groping in dark. Independent regulation of the nuclear industry is still a pipe dream in most countries. Exaggerating the virtues and underplaying the risks of nuclear technology seem to be the rule rather than the exception in the nuclear community.

The nuclear world seems to be in a self-deluding mode by assuming that Fukushima-like accidents can take place only as a result of highly improbable natural calamities but not as a result of human lapses and mechanical failures. Lulled thus into complacence, IAEA and the national governments have been silent spectators to a mind boggling nuclear rush. According to IAEA’s own estimates, by 2030, the total nuclear power capacity will be 546 GW(e), compared to the existing 375 GW(e), while the safety infrastructure required and the institutional arrangements needed may not match it.

What distresses a citizen like me is the denial mode in which IAEA seems to have positioned itself, as evident from the information put on IAEA’s website (http://www.iaea.org) and the websites of the nuclear agencies in most member countries.

For example, I enclose a BBC report of July 23, 2013 which indicated that the Fukushima reactors were still boiling, emitting steam and radioactive water continued to leak into the ocean even today. If one were to read IAEA’s web information on the “updates” on Fukushima, there would be not even a whisper of this. On the other hand, what all it says is about how safe is the environment surrounding Fukushima and how health risks do not exist at all. Millions of people watched the happenings at Fukushima in 2011. Millions read the news reports that describe what is happening there. IAEA’s website therefore sounds totally outdated and not quite dependable.

IAEA is certainly not a promoter of nuclear technology. It is a responsible international body which should concern itself more with the safety aspects of the technology than the number of GW(e) added annually. The information it places in the public domain should represent an accurate and up to date picture of the happenings at Fukushima, rather than a misleading message about how competently the operator of the reactors has been able to control the after effects of the disaster.

The fact that radioactive water from the Fukushima reactors is flowing unhindered into the ocean disturbs the world community as the ocean waters are in the nature of a public good and any threat to its pristine condition is viewed with a great deal of anxiety.

In most countries, the national nuclear agencies which are in a similar denial mode on the risks of nuclear technology draw strength from what IAEA reports! We therefore look to IAEA for an objective assessment.

I hope that your Agency will introspect on the issue I have raised and come clean with an objective assessment of the risks of nuclear technology.


Yours sincerely,


Former Secretary (Power), Government of India
Presently a civil society activist



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