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

US research: 40% of India's casteist Facebook posts are anti-reservation, anti-Dalit

By Rajiv Shah
A recent American civil society research has found that 40% of India's casteist posts on Facebook (FB) have anti-reservation slant. Asserting that the reservation policy in India is similar to affirmative action in the United States, the research study, titled "Facebook India: Towards The Tipping Point of Violence Caste and Religious Hate Speech", says, this type of hate content on FB is mainly directed against Dalits and Adivasis.

Sanjiv Bhatt paying price for deposing on Modi role in Gujarat riots: Wife Shweta

Counterview Desk
Following the Jamnagar sessions court ordering life imprisonment to former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for his alleged involvement in three decades old custodial death case, his wife Shweta Bhatt has said that he has been sentenced for a “for a crime he did not commit”, even as criticizing the Indian Police Service (IPS) Association, Gujarat, for not standing up for him.

Senior advocates targeted because they took up cases against Amit Shah: Lawyers' NGO

Counterview Desk
The Lawyers Collective (LC), an NGO claiming to promote human rights issues, has expressed surprise at the latest move by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register an FIR against the Lawyers Collective (LC), its president Anand Grover and unknown office bearers for alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

How Gujarat govt imposed curbs on livestock export for 'fear' of losing BJP vote share

By RK Misra*
Insidious are the ways authorities function, preaching one thing, practicing quite another. Administrative muscle-flexing to suit political goals was on display when the BJP-led Vijay Rupani government in Gujarat banned the export of livestock days ahead of Eid. Even the Narendra Modi-led government expressed its intent to confirm it countrywide, but stopped short of doing so.

One of the least peaceful countries, India's global peace ranking deteriorates: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report has asserted that India's ranking in the Global Peace Index (GPI) is 141st among 163 countries, deteriorating by four ranks in a year. Ranking 163 countries by providing a score to each, the report, prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), headquartered in Sydney, Australia, has found India to be one of the least peaceful nations in the region.

Demand for Bharat Ratna to Dalai Lama as top RSS leader warns China of 'strong' action

Nava Thakuria*
Dharamshala: Indian supporters for a free Tibet have urged the Government of India to confer Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, on the Tibetan spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, for his “immense contributions” in creating goodwill for India in the last six decades. A declaration, adopted at the 6th All-India Tibet Support Groups’ Conference held on June 15 and 16 in Dharamshala township of Himachal Pradesh, said that the Nobel laureate continues to be a holy ambassador of Indian culture enriched with non-violence, compassion and religious harmony.

Sabarmati 'cleaned up' swimming pool style: Untreated effluents discharged in river

Counterview Desk
In a fresh letter to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, senior Gujarat environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) have taken strong objection to the recent clean-up drive of the about 11.3 km stretch of Sabarmati riverbed undertaken by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), terming it as “swimming pool type clean-up.” The river’s total length is 371 km.

Jharkhand mob lynching: Adivasis protest police 'inaction', FIR against victims

Counterview Desk
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JJM), a civil rights network, on Monday sponsored a protest against the police action against the Adivasi victims of the lynching which took on April 10, 2019, in Jurmu village of Dumri block in Gumla district of Jharkhand. The incident led the death of Prakash Lakda, aged 50.

Gujarat govt 'considers' temples, charitable institutions as shops and establishment

By Pankti Jog*
The Gujarat state assembly recently passed a new law which would "govern" the working condition of shops and establishments. One of the most talked about provisions of the Act is, it allow shops and establishments across Gujarat to function 24 hours.

There is no 'separate' Kashmir story, as there is for Afghanistan, Nepal, Tibet, Palestine

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of South Asia. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. The name Kashmir derives from the Sanskrit Kashyapmeru. The Greeks knew it as Kaspeiria. Herodotus called it Kaspatyros.