Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The proposed MIthi Virdi N-plant is based on "untested" reactor technology, alleges environmental NGO

AP1000 reactor
By Our Representative
Top Gujarat-based environmental NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti has claimed that the technology being used for the proposed nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi, Westinghouse AP1000 “is an untested reactor technology”, and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has already “raised several technical doubts about the reactors, which were given a nod to by non-technical committee members of the NRC.” In a statement, issued jointly with the Bhavnagar Jilla Gram Bachao Samiti and the Gujarat Anu-urja Mukti Andolan, the NGO said this is particularly dangerous as the “exact location of the Nuclear Power Plant (Westinghouse AP1000) is just a few km away from Alang Shipbreaking Yard”.
Apart from this, there are “five villages – Jaspara, Mithi Virdi, Mandva, Khadarpar and Sosiya – who stand to lose 777 hectares of their fertile land to the proposed nuclear power plant.” Of the five villages, three villages – Mithi Virdi, Jaspara and Sosiya – are situated along the coastline. "Most of the land proposed to be acquired falls under Jaspara village. There are total 152 villages in 30 km radius of the proposed nuclear power plant”, the statement reads, adding, “The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture. The rich alluvial soil here supports crops like groundnut, wheat, bajra, cotton, etc., and fruits like mango, chikoo, coconut, etc. This area also grows and supplies vegetables like onion, brinjal, gourd, tomatoes, drumsticks, etc. The agriculture department has found the climate and soil suitable for cashew nuts.”
The statement has been issued to mark Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US from September 20 to 28, 2013, when “there is a possibility of the meeting between Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to finalize the deal for the Mithi Virdi plant”, statement says, adding, to mark a protest, on September 23, the anti-nuclear NGOs are planning a massive rally, starting at Mithi Virdi and ending at Bhavnagar.
The site selection committee for the Nuclear Power Plant constituted in 2005 short-listed Mithi Virdi and submitted its report on June 28, 2007. Earlier, in January 2007, Gujarat government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the NPCIL. Before the site was selected, people of the area were “blissfully unaware of the proposed nuclear project”, the statement said, adding, only when Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti activists visited Mithi Virdi area that people came to know of “impending threat to their land, livelihood, and environmental and health hazards of nuclear energy.”
Since 2007 the Bhavnagar Jilla Gram Bachao Samiti, Anu Urja Abhyas Juth, Gujarat Anu-urja Mukti Andolan and Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti conducted awareness programmes. “As a result the villagers with the supports of number of organisations in Gujarat and across India started agitation against the proposed 6000 MW Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant. The slogan of the struggle today is – No Nuclear Power Plant in Mithi Virdi, not anywhere in the world”, the statement says.
Giving reasons for the opposition to the nuclear power plant, the statement says, “Two years after the Fukushima disaster, its impact on the global nuclear industry has become increasingly visible. Global electricity generation from nuclear plants dropped by a historic 7 percent in 2012, adding to the record drop of 4 percent in 2011. This is, according to World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013 (WNISR), which provides a global overview of the history, the current status and the trends of nuclear power programs worldwide.”
Quoting from the report, the statement says, it “includes an update on nuclear economics as well as an overview of the status, on-site and off-site, of the challenges triggered by the Fukushima disaster”. At the same time, the report emphasizes that recent post-Fukushima “developments should not obscure an important fact – that the world nuclear industry already faced daunting challenges long before Fukushima, just as the US nuclear power industry had largely collapsed after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. The nuclear promoters’ invention that a global nuclear renaissance was flourishing until 3/11 is equally false. Fukushima only added to the already grave problems, starting with poor economics.”
The statement says, “There are 31 countries operating nuclear power plants in the world. A total of 427 reactors have a combined installed capacity of 364 GWe. These figures assume the final shutdown of the ten reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi and Daini. It should be noted that as of July 1, 2013 only two (Ohi-3 and -4) of the 44 remaining Japanese reactors are operating and their future is highly uncertain. In fact, many observers believe that a large share of the suspended Japanese units will likely never restart.”
It further says, “The nuclear industry is also in decline. The 427 operating reactors are 17 lower than the peak in 2002, while, the total installed capacity peaked in 2010 at 375 GWe before declining to the current level of 364 GWe, which was last seen a decade ago. Annual nuclear electricity generation reached a maximum in 2006 at 2,660 TWh, then dropped to 2,346 TWh in 2012 (down 7 percent compared to 2011, down 12 percent from 2006). About three-quarters of this decline is due to the situation in Japan, but 16 other countries, including the top five nuclear generators, decreased their nuclear generation too.”
It adds, “The nuclear share in the world’s power generation declined steadily from a historic peak of 17 percent in 1993 to about 10 percent in 2012. Nuclear power’s share of global commercial primary energy production plunged to 4.5 percent, a level last seen in 1984. Only one country, the Czech Republic, reached its record nuclear contribution to the electricity mix in 2012. The report also points out that two-thirds (44) of the units under construction are located in three countries – China, India and Russia.”
The statement regrets it is against this backdrop that the Government of India is aggressively pursuing its nuclear programmes “in spite of people from Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), Gorakhpur (Haryana), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh) and Haripur (West Bengal) waging relentless struggles against these anti-people and unsafe nuclear power projects promoted by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL). Their massive peaceful protests have mostly been met with callousness and brutal repression on the part of the governments.”


Jag Jivan said...

What the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti says about N-plant in general may or may not be true, it's a question of opinion. However, it appears to be spreading misinformation about US NRC report. If earlier NRC may have found Westinghouse AP1000 reactor defective, the last report, of 2011, cleared it after the removal of defects. Let me quote relevant para: "The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff has reviewed Westinghouse's changes to the AP1000 design documentation. On the basis of the evaluation described in the AP1000 FSER (NUREG-1793, NUREG-1793 Supplement 1) and this report, the NRC staff concludes that the AP1000 design documentation (up to and including Revision 19 to the AP1000 design control document) is acceptable and that Westinghouse's application for design certification meets the requirements of Subpart B, Standard Design Certifications, of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 52 that are applicable and technically relevant to the AP1000 standard plant design." Would the NGO care to reply?

Anuj Wankhede said...

Hi Jag,

The AP1000 saga is ongoing since 2005-2006 since its first application for certification to the NRC. All the time, Westinghouse-Toshiba have claimed that this is the "SAFEST" reactor ever built and can withstand "beyond design" events. Now, how many times have we heard this story from nuclear suppliers!!
Anyway, the jury is still out with many notable people from nuclear engineering, physicists and even ex-NRC safety members raising concerns about the AP1000 design and its ability to withstand certain events and pointing out to its weaknesses (esp. in case of a 911 type of attack). Remember that literally hundreds of foreign flag ships sail in and out of Alang ship breaking yard which is merely a couple of km from the proposed site.
Apart from all this, there are issues of damage to ecology, environment, loss of livelihood to farmers and fishermen, huge displacement and a larger human rights issue. All this in a state which has NO power shortage at all as per the latest CEA published figures.
One should take a holistic view in such issues as the immediate and consequent damages will last for hundreds of years and look at safer and ecologically friendly means of energy generation.

Thank you,

Anuj Wankhede