Koodankulam: Unwarranted and Misleading Official Rhetoric

Prof.T.Shivaji Rao, Director, Center for Environmental Studies, GITAM University, Visakhapatnam.

The Chairmen of Atomic Energy Commission and Nuclear Power Corporation told the media on 28th October at Mumbai  that it is not possible to abandon the Nuclear Reactors under the construction at Kudankulam.  This amounts to warning the people that the safety of Kudankulam reactors will be in  jeopardy due to the blockades by the people who are agitating against the nuclear plants.  The allegation that public agitations cause the nuclear plant to face the risk of being seriously damaged and thereby implying indirectly that it poses a threat to public safety is very misleading.  Several nuclear power plants have been closed down in USA on the verge of their completion due to unresolved problems of safety and economic viability.  In the wake of Fukushima explosion the German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to close down several reactors after realizing that nuclear safety is a myth.   The Russian experts who enquired into the safety aspects of Russian nuclear plants in the aftermath of Fukushima reactor explosion concluded that the Russian nuclear reactors do not satisfy safety consideration in many respects and these findings forced people of South Tamilnadu to agitate for abandonment of such reactors in Kudankulam.  The people anticipate that  failure of the reactors due to a maximum credible accident can result in economic damages worth about 60 lakhs crores of rupees and the death of several lakhs of people in southern parts of Kerala and Tamil Naud states.  The victims of Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan are claiming for compensation amounting to more than 3 lakh crores of rupees and the probability of this nuclear accident may render the Southern states virtually economically bankrupt.

The claim of the Atomic energy officials that they have done the hot run for the Kudankulam reactor and that they cannot go from a hot run to a freeze condition is tantamount to an undeclared nuclear war against the people of Southern districts of Tamilnadu and Kerala.  By conducting the hot run of the reactor they have just loaded the reactor with dummy fuel assemblies which have the same configuration as the real fuel assemblies excluding the enriched uranium fuel and hence the reactor has not gone critical and is not producing any power and hence there is no threat to public safety.  Hence the nuclear plant can be closed down without making any excuses.  It is reported that there were more than 430 emergency shutdowns in 1987 in several nuclear plants in the United States and that there were about 500 violations of safety regulations in nuclear reactors in 37 states.  The contention of the officials that most of the fears of the local people are not based on scientific facts but on sentiment is wrong because the Chernobyl disaster and the Fukushima explosion proved without doubt that nuclear safety is a cent percent myth and that the nuclear plants are nothing more than silent killers of mankind and eco systems in the long run.  Even noble laureates who studied about nuclear safety in depth warned that nuclear plants can become nuclear bombs when there are mechanical, electrical or construction failures or human failures, man- made and natural disasters.

Infact the nuclear authorities in the United States prepared Disaster Management plans for the maximum credible accidents to implement remedial measures not only for the radioactive plume pathway zone of 16kms but also for the radioactive pollution Ingestion exposure zone of 80kms from the reactor site.  The Kudankulam nuclear plant authorities have violated these standard  safety procedures in case of Kudankulam nuclear plant accident with southerly wind direction and thereby lakhs of people of Tirunelveli city and district were not informed that they have to vacate their villages towns and cities within 24 hours of the nuclear accident and stay in distant safer places for about 20 years and return to their lands and houses after decontamination at an exorbitant cost.  If the accident occurs during Southeasterly winds several lakhs of people of Trivandrum city and other towns and villages will have to get evacuated within 24 hours of the nuclear accident and stay in safer places outside for a period of 20 years when they can return for reoccupying their native villages, towns and cities after decontamination of their lands at very expensive cost.  While the atomic energy officials are looking at safety of their reactors and components from the engineering safety point of view the environmentalists and social activists are looking into public safety from the probability of not only mechanical, electrical and operational failures but also from the unforeseen accidents due to internal sabotage, human errors, terrorist attacks, bombings and aeroplane crashes which cannot be always visualized in proper time and remedial measures cannot be taken to avert them.

Prof.T.Shivaji Rao,
Director, Center for Environemntal Studies,
GITAM University, Visakhapatnam-530045
Phone: 0891-2504902
Mobile: 9949319038





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