Skip to main content

Proposed expansion of Karnataka N-plant "ignores" worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima

Counterview Desk
EAS Sarma, former secretary, Government of India (GoI), in a letter addressed to secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, with copies to chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and chairman Karnataka Pollution Control Board, has said that radiation and environmental risks have been ignored in DAE’s proposal to set up Units 5 & 6 (2X700MWe) at Kaiga Nuclear Power Station in Karnataka.
Post-Fukushima accident, says Sarma, who is based in Visakhapatnam, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities", with many countries "opting in favour of setting up independent nuclear regulatory authorities to tighten the safety aspects of nuclear power." However, he regrets, "In India, AERB continues to be subordinate to DAE."
According to Sarma, in the aftermath of Fukushima, "under public pressure, DAE had brought out Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, 2011 on which the Parliamentary Standing Committee on DAE made several farreaching recommendations to enhance the independence of the proposed Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority. "However, even after the lapse of 7 years, DAE has not cared to respond to those recommendations." Worse, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report "does not make any assessment of the risks associated with nuclear power generation units and their likely adverse impacts."

Text of the letter:

I understand that a public hearing is scheduled to be held shortly in connection with DAE’s proposal to set up Units 5 & 6 (2X700MWe) at Kaiga Nuclear Power Station in Karnataka. I have gone through the EIA report, which, in my view, is far too inadequate to serve as a basis for any meaningful public consultation process, as explained below.
India’s power supply system is already sub-optimally biased in favour of thermal power capacity that caters to steady demand. Compounding this is the fact that during the last decade or so, a large capacity of thermal generation has been cleared, worsening this problem further.
I have enclosed here an analytical study conducted in August, 2011 by Pune-based NGO, Prayas, which showed that the thermal capacity in the pipeline would result in “three times the capacity addition that would be required to meet the needs of the high renewables-high efficiency scenario for year 2032 projected by the Planning Commission’s Integrated Energy Policy report”.
As a result, the average PLF of thermal power plants in the country has steadily declined, leading to many new thermal power plants becoming unviable and the consequent NPAs burdening the banks. Adding 1,400 MWe capacity at Kaiga would therefore be economically and operationally inadvisable.
Post-Fukushima accident, there has been worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities. Many countries are opting in favour of setting up independent nuclear regulatory authorities to tighten the safety aspects of nuclear power, whereas, in India, AERB continues to be subordinate to DAE.
In the aftermath of Fukushima, under public pressure, DAE had brought out Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill 2011 on which the Parliamentary Standing Committee on DAE made several farreaching recommendations to enhance the independence of the proposed Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority.
However, even after the lapse of 7 years, DAE has not cared to respond to those recommendations, thus continuing with the existing system of AERB being subordinate to DAE. To propose additions to nuclear generation capacity without strengthening the regulatory structure would amount to exposing the people around Kaiga to huge risks.
Sarma
The EIA report does not make any assessment of the risks associated with nuclear power generation units and their likely adverse impacts. At a public hearing like this, the least that DAE could have presented is a risk analysis that should evaluate not only the radiation hazards arising from major accidents but also the impact on public health from low-intensity radiation.
I enclose here an article (“Body’s adaptive response to low-dose irradiation”) authored by Shri K S Parthasarathy, a former scientist from DAE ((Raja Ramanna Fellow in the Department of Atomic Energy) on the likely adverse impacts of low-intensity radiation. When a public consultation is held, it is surprising that DAE should have presented a one-sided picture of the project, literally misleading the public.
DAE/AERB/NPCIL ought to have periodically monitored the incidence of radiation-related diseases, including carcinogenic diseases around Kaiga and presented the findings as a part of the EIA. Failure to provide such information raises an apprehension in the public mind about the authenticity of the EIA and the ritualistic nature of the public hearing.
There is considerable literature on the analysis of risks arising on account of catastrophic nuclear accidents similar to Chernobyl and Fukushima. I have enclosed here a research article “Global risk of radioactive fallout after major nuclear reactor accidents” based on probability studies authored by J Lelieveld, D Kunkel and MG Lawrence (scientists from Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, the Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany) and published in Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics on May 12, 2012, which evaluates such risks.
In particular, the study estimates the “enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities”. The existence of 4 reactors has already enhanced the cumulative risk of an accident at Kaiga. Adding two more units of 700 MWe capacity each further compounds the risk.
It is distressing to find that the EIA report is totally silent on the rich research literature that exists on the subject and its application to the proposed expansion project. A public hearing based on such a sketchy EIA document does no justice to the purpose for which it is supposed be held.
The location of Kaiga is such that it has a continuing impact on the Western Ghats and its environment, including the water bodies. The Committee headed by Prof Madhav Gadgil has assessed the trends in relation to the ecology of the Western Ghats and the likely adverse impacts on account of industrial projects. The EIA report on Kaiga is silent on this, suggesting its inadequacy.
NPCIL has adopted a “zoning” system around nuclear power stations. Post-Fukushima, IAEA has proposed tightening the zoning system for enhanced disaster preparedness. The EIA report makes no mention of it.
The consultant, MECON, who has prepared the EIA report, as per the list of accredited consultants published by Ministry of Environment, is not authorised to prepare EIA reports on nuclear power projects. Any public hearing held on the basis of such an EIA report should therefore be deemed to be vitiated on that ground.
In view of these concerns, I feel that the proposed public hearing should be cancelled altogether. As the project is prima facie non-viable, in my view, DAE should not go ahead with the expansion units being set up.

Comments

Agata said…
propose additions to nuclear generation capacity without strengthening the regulatory structure would amount to exposing the people around Kaiga to huge risks.

TRENDING

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Report on "torture" in Kashmir jails: 44% detainees stripped naked, 29% electrocuted

Counterview Desk
A recent report titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir”, published by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), has claimed to build “on the body of human rights documentation on torture” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an examination of 432 case studies. It seeks to focus on "the trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, contexts and impact of torture" in the state.

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

Amidst Modi celebrations, thousands protest 'massive' submergence in Narmada Valley

By Our Representative
Thousands of women and men gathered on at the Shaheed Stambh in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, to raise their voice against what they called "the destruction of the Narmada Valley", protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat BJP rulers for celebrating the Sardar Sarovar dam being filled up to the full reservoir level (FRL) on September 17, which also happens to be Modi's birthday.
Calling it a black day for the people of the Valley, whose villages and farms got submerged because of highest-ever water level having been achieved in the dam, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which organised the parallel rally across the border with Gujarat, regretted in a statement that Modi's celebration at the dam took place amidst " martyrdom of the Valley".
The demonstration in Badwani was preceded by a vehicles rally, which took rounds of the city streets. They were joined by people from several villages of Dhar district. They gather…

Kandla Port Trust activities 'destroyed' mangroves, affecting rare camel species: NGT

By Rajiv Shah
Taking serious note of large-scale destruction of mangroves on about 750 acres in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi, has “directed” the Gujarat government, its forest department, and the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GSZMA), to “jointly inspect the area” and fix responsibility as to who is “responsible for obstruction of the creeks” next to the Kandla Port Trust (KPT), leading to the damage to the plantations in the area.

Narmada valley: SC notice to Gujarat, MP, M'rashtra on submergence sans rehabilitation

By Our Representative
Thr Supreme Court has issued notice to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments following a Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)-backed petition seeking the explanation as to whether large areas of Narmada Valley have gone into submergence by filling up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL) without rehabilitating the project affected families (PAFs).

'No regulation' in India on use of deadly chemical in surfactants, consumer products

By Our Representative
A new study released by Toxics Link, ‘Dirty Trail: Detergent to Water Bodies’, has found alarming levels of the toxic chemical nonylphenol in detergents as well as in river water in India. The detergent samples were taken from the local markets of Delhi and water from six rivers i.e. Garh Ganga and Hindon in Uttar Pradesh, Krishnan in Andhra Pradesh, Tapti in Gujarat, Bandi in Rajasthan, Mahanadi in Odisha and Ambazari lake in Nagpur.

ANHAD brainstorming: Why cops came in private meeting?, Home Ministry asked

By Our Representative
Well-known human rights organisation Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) has taken strong exception to a special branch officer and a cop reaching its office in Nizamuddin West in Delhi, even as its brainstorming session about to start to "discuss" the possibility of doing grassroots work for spreading ideas of peace and harmony.
While the cop went away after taking photographs, the special branch officer sat through the meeting. Wondered Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD, "Is talking about peace, communal harmony, bringing communities together, fighting hatred and spreading the vision of an equal and just society a crime in #NewIndia?"
Hashmi said, "There are groups openlygiving weapon training , lynch mobs killing innocent people in the name of cow and child lifting and the special branch is busy doing surveillance of groups, who are trying to bring back some sanity to society?"
"The meeting was in our office, not in a public place…