Thursday, March 07, 2013

There is nothing to worry about the proposed N-power plant at Mithi Virdi: NPCIL

Farmers protest public hearing for proposed N-plant
By Our Representative 
In a reply to R Sreedhar of the Environics Trust, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has suggested that top activist-scientist’s objections to the proposed N-plant at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat are misplaced. In a statement forwarded to www.counterview.net, NPCIL has sought to provide a point by point rebuttal to Sreedhar’s queries to the N-plant.
Query: The location of the site with 78 per cent of double cropped land for the plant not only indicates the lack of sensitivity in the choice of area for acquisition but also that the state and the NPClL are putting more people to risk, as settlements would be also too close for nuclear plant and the need for some exclusion zone need not be over-emphasised after the recent accidents and increased concern on nuclear disasters.
NPCIL response: The Mithivirdi site is offered by government of Gujarat and was evaluated by the site selection committee {SSC} appointed by Government of India comprising members from Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), department of atomic energy (DAE), and NPCIL. The SSC has recommended Mithivirdi as the suitable site for establishing the nuclear power plant (6 X 1000 MW capacities light water reactor). The site selection committee has considered various site selection criteria as specified by AERB/MoEF such as location, land availability, transportation accessibility, source of cooling water, meteorology, population, seismic zones, flood analysis, sustainability of the project, other environmental aspects etc. before recommending the suitability of the site for establishing nuclear power plant (NPP). Based on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies, it is clarified that agriculture (double cropped) in the region will not be affected due to the project as the emission of conventional pollutants from the project will be negligible and radiation close will be a small fraction of the AERB dose limit. While acquiring the land for the project, the affected-people will be compensated in line with the state Government resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) policy.
The proposed AP1000 at Mithlvirdì is a generation-III pressurized water reactor (PWR). The technology is evolved by Westinghouse based on AP600 the successfully operating power plants. The technology is licensed by the USNRC regulating authorities and is under implementation in many countries.
The AP1000 design has the inner containment steel lined and designed to withstand accidental pressures and temperatures and an outer hardened concrete shell enveloping the inner one and protecting it against external hazards such as aircraft crashes and pressure wave, etc.. The reactor design follows the latest international standards and guidelines. lt incorporates a large number of diverse and redundant safety features. The low -level radioactive waste generated by NPP will be having a robust treatment and disposal system in line with AERB requirements.
Query: One of the issues clearly pointed out in the terms of reference (TOR) and is fundamental to any dialogue with Public is to know the project affected people and the R&R plan. The point number (xiv) in the TOR sates "Application of resettlement and rehabilitation policy may be described. Project affected persons should be identified and rehabilitation and resettlement plan should be prepared." The section on R&R in the EIA report is totally hypothetical and does not even say how many households would be affected.
NPCIL response: As per the Khasara map, there is no physical displacement of any of the villages. However, the land going to be acquired for the project belongs to the Jasapara, Mandava and Khadadpar-Mithivirdi villages. On this land there are some scattered houses which will be surveyed and confirmed by the district administration. The affected families will be compensated as per R&R Policy of Govt. of Gujarat.
Query: EIL does not have necessary accreditation to conduct EIA for nuclear power plants.
NPCIL response: Accreditation of Engineers India Ltd (EIL) for nuclear sector is under active considerations by NABET since March 15, 2010. As the requirements for accreditation in this sector are being discussed with the experts in the field and are not yet finalized by NABET, EIL has not provided in the EIA report valid NABET accreditation certificate for nuclear sector. Also, it is submitted that M/s EIL has carried out the updated EIA for Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project unit 3 to 6 (KKNPP 3 to 6) in the year 2011-12, which was reviewed by CRZ Expert Appraisal Committee, MoEF and based on their recommendations, MOEF granted CRZ clearance for KKNPP 3 to 6. Considering their overall capabilities in the field of EIA, NABET has suggested to EIL to carry out the EIA study for nuclear power projects in consultation with AERB/ BARC/ NPCIL.

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