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India is not Japan: Nuclear reactors in grave danger

By SiliconIndia   |   Friday, 18 March 2011, 19:57 Hrs   |    28 Comments
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India is not Japan: Nuclear reactors in grave danger
Bangalore: India is not Japan. That's the argument being put out by both sides of the nuclear debate in India in the wake of the disaster in Japan. The government of India is trying to reassure the public that Fukushima could not happen in India, reports New America Media.

Japan lies squarely on a fault line. None of India's 20 nuclear reactors are in seismic Zone 5 which is most vulnerable to earthquakes. The Madras Atomic Power Station safely shut down when the 2004 tsunami struck. The Fukushima reactor is a boiling water reactor while most of India's reactors are pressurized heavy water reactors with passive cooling systems.

India is not Japan, agree anti-nuclear activists. Japan's much touted, highly advanced disaster preparedness couldn't stop the radiation leaks. India, on the other hand, is "disorganized and unprepared for the handling of any kind of even much less severity" says Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, former chair of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), in an op-ed in the newspaper DNA. India has been lucky its systems haven't had to face something like what happened in Fukushima. Environmental activist Praful Bidwai points out in the Hindustan Times that India also has boiling water reactors in its nuclear plant at Tarapur - "designed by General Electric, the same as Fukushima's, only smaller and one-generation older, probably with weaker safety systems."

The government is standing its ground. While publicly saying that Japan is a wake-up call and ordering a review, it insists there will be no 'rethink on the nuclear energy programme.' India now generates only three percent of its energy from nuclear power. It wants to increase its nuclear power capacity fivefold in the next ten years to 20,000 MW and then to 40,000 MW by 2030. That would be one of the largest expansions in the world.

It's unlikely that any of the big nuclear powers are going to urge India to slow down. Russia, France, the United States are all involved in building the new reactors. The US is planning to invest some $150 billion in the next thirty years.

Right now both sides are zeroing in on one of the new reactors - the 9,900 MW plant being proposed in Jaitapur in western India. Jaitapur is in a seismic zone. 3,000 social activists have already been arrested for opposing the project. Srikumar Banerjee, chair of the Atomic Energy Commission told Samay that Jaitapur can withstand a tsunami of the magnitude experienced by Japan. But former AERB chair Gopalakrishnan says the government just doesn't know. The reactors are being called state of the art. But that really means neither the Indians, nor the French know very much about them. On top of that the radiation impact from a tsunami was not even covered in its Environment Impact Assessment. Nuclear plant safety isn't included under the domain of the environment ministry says Jairam Ramesh, the Minister for Environment.

That's the big problem, say opponents of the power plant. No one knows where the buck stops when it comes to safety. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India sets up nuclear plants. The Atomic Energy Board looks at their safety. But both are under the government's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). That closeness helped smooth the way for the Indo-US nuclear deal. But now it means the AERB is no watchdog. It's just a 'lapdog' of the DAE scoffs Gopalakrishnan.

But to be frank, until Fukushima, there was little public interest. When the chair of Atomic Energy Commission addressed lawmakers about the Jaitapur project, television cameras showed several of them taking a nap.

If Jaitapur is seen to have violated environmental regulations it could be scrapped, Jairam Ramesh told CNN-IBN. The government, he said, is reviewing all projects that had been cleared on India's coastline.

But even as it concedes to a review as opposed to a rethink, the government is playing another card. For years, India has been criticized for dragging its feet on climate change because it does not want to put any brakes on its economic growth. That means India needs its nuclear power, says Ramesh. "From a climate change point of view, it is the best source because it does not have any greenhouse gas emission," he told the Business Standard.

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Reader's comments(28)
1: In the name of advancement and obtaining materialistic pleasures we are digging our own grave with excitement and pleasure while installing so many Nuclear Reactors. Nature must be smiling at the backdrop thinking how he is going to control the universal balance.
Posted by:Swapan Panda - 26 Mar, 2011
2: In the name of state of the art technology, progress, growth we don't want a generation of mentally retarded & genetically crippled Indians. Let us be technologically backward so that India exists. We don't want a situation like in Japan whose very existence is threatened.
Posted by:micromanju - 26 Mar, 2011
3: My live near to a city where world largest automic plan is been built in India (TN) I doubt about the construction.As every where there is curruption India. I am not saying that N-power is not for India. But considering the currupt system they are not fit to have N-power as they don't do it curret. Every where its currption. How do we know this is done correct.
Posted by:Justin - 24 Mar, 2011
4: even though india is not japan
we should have to take care of safety of N-power
i want to say that "be prepare for future hazard"
Posted by:abdul musawir - 22 Mar, 2011
5: #@#@%#*(&9f
Posted by: nj n j nj - 20 Mar, 2011
6: I understand about the danger of using N-reactor as power generation and also using other sources of power generation. We all need to understand one thing is that all of this is for our own daily need for more and more power.

I am a normal IT guy like others but are we forgetting we are destroying ourselves buy consuming more and more power, on top wasting a lot.

People before pointing on to other things like government, industry, what kind of industry, what kind of power, etc. kindly save energy. You can start from your own house, stop wasting energy and use natural as much as possible.

All this is because of our need for more power, please do understand that. Because we do not have enough natural energy to burn economically thus inclining towards nuclear.
Posted by:Siva - 20 Mar, 2011
7:
Very well said Siva, there are number of easy ways to reduce power consumption, lets stop pointing on others and check what can we do.........
No Krishna or Any other avatar will come to save us if want to fall.
Saurabh Replied to: Siva - 21 Mar, 2011
8: I understand about the danger of using N-reactor as power generation and also using other sources of power generation. We all need to understand one thing is that all of this is for our own daily need for more and more power.

I am a normal IT guy like others but are we forgetting we are destroying ourselves buy consuming more and more power, on top wasting a lot.

People before pointing on to other things like government, industry, what kind of industry, what kind of power, etc. kindly save energy. You can start from your own house, stop wasting energy and use natural as much as possible.

All this is because of our need for more power, please do understand that. Because we do not have enough natural energy to burn economically thus inclining towards nuclear.
Posted by:Siva - 20 Mar, 2011
9: I understand about the danger of using N-reactor as power generation and also using other sources of power generation. We all need to understand one thing is that all of this is for our own daily need for more and more power.

I am a normal IT guy like others but are we forgetting we are destroying ourselves buy consuming more and more power, on top wasting a lot.

People before pointing on to other things like government, industry, what kind of industry, what kind of power, etc. kindly save energy. You can start from your own house, stop wasting energy and use natural as much as possible.

All this is because of our need for more power, please do understand that. Because we do not have enough natural energy to burn economically thus inclining towards nuclear.
Posted by:Siva - 20 Mar, 2011
10: BUY
futuremakaan.com
&
worldbest.co

futuremakaan@gmail.com
Posted by:Syed - 20 Mar, 2011
11: I do not understand the fuss all about after going though the comments made by the learned. Please, please believe that we all are going to die! There isn't an iota of accountability in this country and conviction rate is at its nadir. While Hassan Ali gets bail and no case is registered, Binayak Sen languishes in jail
Posted by:tima - 19 Mar, 2011
12: "I think that nuclear power is necessary for the any country development programme but the proper planning the nuclear reactor shoud set up ""
Posted by:anil singh - 19 Mar, 2011
13:
You are quite ring in using the words 'proper' and 'planning' above. These two words are not found in the realms of babudom in this country. Ego, deception, corruption and the negative words as such govern this land of nepotism. It is for this reason that the safety report on the country's n.reactors have not been tabled. If anyone makes a move to table it in the greater interest of public service, his head'd roll!
tima Replied to: anil singh - 19 Mar, 2011
14: This Nuclear disaster faced by Japan is a worst one. Let us all pray for their safety. But since it was domestically manufactured system and highly advanced system, they are able to atleast struggle with the system.
India is in a much riskier situation. For example: The Kudankulam power plants are completely imported from Russia(If there is a political clash between India and Russia-imagine?) and that technology belong to a much older generation(same as in Chernobyle) than that is in Japan. The technology is also only partially known to Indians.
There is no automatic coolant machanism (as in Japan or in Indian cars etc.). In Kudankulam power plant, only sea water is used as the coolant. As Indians are least bothered about sea life or environment, govt plays lot of games for money. Pipelines are inserted upto one kilometer inside sea and water is inflowing towards the boiler and the boiled water is sent back to the sea. If the mother earth gets angry for destroying its nature, are we ready to face its anger like tsunami?
Even if there is a small weakening or failure of the system, there is no alternative. I have read that the reactors are so powerful that the whole Kerala, whole Tamilnadu and part of Karnataka and Andhra will be the prey it is said. This plant was four times banned by international Environment Committees and after that by cross cut methods the approval was received.
We are already in the middle of the water. There is no way out. Atleast the govt can think about a serious disaster machanism that need to be developed for India.
It is also an unsaid truth that the nuclear plants are not for generating electricity, they are mainly involved in producing defence products.
If everyone starts thinking about the temporary travel on earth, we will start working for making this world a better place to live for the next generation. May God show us the way for peace.-Dr. Shobana Nelasco
Posted by:Dr. Shobana Nelasco - 19 Mar, 2011
15:
It's time we should start thinking about traditional and safe ways of ENERGY GENERATION.
Main beneficiaries are the countries and companies involved in signing such agreements which can wipe out HUMANITY & Mother Nature. Also such projects are signed much in hurry and in hush hush manner, as you will never get another chance for personal gains.
jak Replied to: Dr. Shobana Nelasco - 19 Mar, 2011
16: Murphy's law is if any thing can go wrong,it will go wrong oneday. But while other industrial disasters are containble to a limited extent,the damage by the N-blast extend beyond time limits and Zones. At that time all these people who N-energy will run away or will offer weak diffences.The fact the so called Developed countries are expanding their N-energy .Why india agrees to be forced to do this The N-waste mean while is biggest environmental threat to Seas and earth. Can any N-energy proponent tell me how this will be handeled?
Either we have pseudo inteletuals,or corrupt Scietists.The people cannot be loosers.
Posted by:V V S Prasad - 19 Mar, 2011
17: The Indian ethos of 'not being prepared' is the hallmark of Indian scientists and the whole work culture. Instead of learning from this disaster, the so called responsible people are saying it could not happen here. Whoever thought of Bhopal tragedy? It happened because of someone in Indian authority system did not do their job honestly. When such calamities happen then they are attributed to God and fate. It is a shameful attitude that we are not prepared to take our own responsibilities seriously. Someone wrote somewhere-'Wise people learn from the mistakes of others, fools do not learn from their own'.You decide what category these people in authority belong to.
Posted by:Dr Pradeep K Chadha - 19 Mar, 2011
18:
India is a country of JUGAAD and 'chalta hai' ethos of management. We should thank GOD (Ram?) for surviving the 60 odd years of independence. But then, are we independent? We have sold our economy to foreign powers without realising where we are headed to!
tima Replied to: Dr Pradeep K Chadha - 19 Mar, 2011
19:
ya we people dont learn from our mistakes but when the situation occur we attributed to god, forget that god help those who help themselves.
ritu goel Replied to: Dr Pradeep K Chadha - 19 Mar, 2011
20:
it is good that you say this and this should reach the broader public! Thank you,

Many regards,
Dipak Bose

Dipak Bose Replied to: ritu goel - 19 Mar, 2011
21:
At the spur of the moment of any calamity tempers rise. But Nuclear power is part of Energy Mix. Nobody disputes this. Italy voted against nuclear in a referendum. But it gets power from France which is nuclear country.

Instead of opposing nuclear power, the best way is to tighten security and safety measures of Nuclear Plants.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
Posted by:Dr.A.Jagadeesh - 19 Mar, 2011
22:
Italy does not to suffer from N-disaters ,so it opposed in their own yard. If France is supplying them by taking risk in their country,why Italy should object. I donot know what you mean by Safety standards. You mean to say that Japanese did not know they are building N-plants in seismic Zone?Or India is richer than Japan that it will employ costlier safety standards?If disaster takes place in N-plants ,it will the worst disaster compared to Thermal plant or Gasplants. Today we cannot make an Indian brand Camera or TV like Japanese and you say we can do better than Japanese?
And We donot need this N-plants which endanger the lives of generations.We have so many alternatives.
The Govt acceptd N-deal is becoz it is corrupt. Why educated people like you should support this knowing the dangers.
V V S Prasad Replied to: Dr.A.Jagadeesh - 19 Mar, 2011
23:
It seems you are confused. What I meant is Nuclear power has its own role in Energy mix of several countries. By safety measures I mean updating them. You may be interested to know that US is reviewing the status of old Nucleal plants. I did not say we can do better than Japanese. The author might have said it. Don't rush with your ignorance.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Replied to: V V S Prasad - 19 Mar, 2011
24:
in upcoming 100 years aslo india cant match japan success
singh Replied to: Dr.A.Jagadeesh - 19 Mar, 2011
25:
Why not you contribute to match with Japan!?

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Replied to: singh - 20 Mar, 2011
26: Any technology import or equipments should thoroughly be checked for virus implant in their control systems , which can trigger a malfunction later stage, at the will of the supplier ( Any foreign company ). This is difficult for Indians to ensure, because we are currupt. This very vulnerability of Indians become a tool, once we engage with foreign companies. So be selective ( country ), the necessity of buying a biting dog , hereafter as the developed world is looking for markets, demolition of peace, venue for investments on their huge reserves accumulated over the last 3 years around the world , as fishing in troubled waters..
Posted by:future - 19 Mar, 2011
27: Don't think that Japan does't have those technologies. if u say frankly, japan technologies are better than India. Tsunami was happend in Japan by the inexpected climet fluctuvation, none of the country helpless in that sutivation, if it was happend to india, i think sutuvation would vorest than japan in the way of providing beter service for save people, provide proper fecilities (food,shulter and replace the present condition). Our self we are expecying more about india as like as a India Cricket team, once we get into the game then only we realise what is our capacity..i can sugust as an Indian, pls Be carefull and get ready to face for aney sutivation...
Posted by:Upendra Reddy - 18 Mar, 2011
28:
gygghjuhbj!@
gtyughu Replied to: Upendra Reddy - 20 Apr, 2011