Jaitapur : a French problem – Reactors for India

By Juliette Renaud
(From Les Amis de la Terre site
Published March 22nd, 2011)

Translated from French by Annick Clairin





Jaitapur, in the Indian State of Maharashtra, is a new nuclear project which has landed on the desk of the European banks and the COFACE, the French agency of export credit. With more than 10 000 planned MW, it should be about the biggest nuclear power plant to the world. In a first phase, the Indian NPCIL company (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) looks for financing to build two EPR to Jaitapur. It raises serious anxieties in safety because Jaitapur is situated in the only part of the Indian coast classified «important high-risk are” for earthquakes. Three tectonic rifts cross the sector, and several earthquakes were registered in the last twenty years. The most powerful, in 1999, reached the magnitude of 6,3 on the Richter scale.

The construction in the course of the EPR of Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France revealed numerous technical problems of conception questioning the safety of this reactor. Inspections also noticed on both sites of grave defects in the quality of components as well as in the welds and the big main part works. To Olkiluoto for example, the STUK (the authority of Finnish nuclear safety) identified more than 3 000 defects of security and quality. It comes largely from the fact that, to reduce its costs, the company preferred to hire cheap but little qualified subcontractors, even if it means neglecting the safety. In France, the inspections indicate systematically that the problems come from an “haste except any quality process”. These difficulties could indeed aggravate in India, where the cost of the first two reactors of Jaitapur is officially estimated at crores 32 000 (5,4 billion euro) – or less than half cost

The project has already provoked massive social conflicts. The site proposed for the nuclear reactors of Jaitapur is a natural protected well quality space which supplies the subsistence necessary for producers of mangoes and the local fishermen. Between December, 2009 and January, 2010, NPCIL officially seized 938 hectares of ground to the villagers. The compensation offered by 3 rupees (5 € centimes) per square meter was so low as it was unanimously rejected by the inhabitants. Demonstrations were severely repressed by the police, with hundreds of struck and arrested persons of a way repeated at 2010 and the beginning of 2011, even going as far as making a dead man among the opponents in April, 2011.

Among other problems linked to this project represent the lack of transparency and consultation of the civil society, as well as controversies on a legislation which would exempt the foreign companies of any responsibility in case of accidents and of contamination.

Since the announcement of the project in 2009, the Indian authorities declared that HSBC and four French banks (BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Crédit Agricole and Natixis) would supply 3 in 4 billion euros with loans. They also declared that the Coface, the credit agency in the French export, would supply the necessary guarantee for these loans.

At the beginning of 2011, the Indian NPCIL company invited more than a dozen banks in the world to participate in the financing of Jaitapur, among whom BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP MorganChase, Natixis, Santander, Société Générale and standard Chartered. In March, 2011, Deutsche Bank announced that she would not participate in the financing of this nuclear power plant.

The Amis de la Terre  and their partners of the network Bank Track campaign against this project and ask to the private banks and to the Coface not to bring their financial support for its realization.

In July, 2011, a letter, signed by hundred of organizations of the whole world, was officially sent to the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, asking him to not deliver public guarantee for this project.

For more information click here : http://www.banktrack.org/show/dodgydeals/jaitapur_nuclear_power_plant



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