Stop Kudankulam fuelling, lives are at stake!


By Dr. A .Gopalakrishnan (a past chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board)

English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

The government, through its Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Nuclear Power Corporation Limited (NPCIL), and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is racing to bring the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, Unit-1 (KNPP-1) to full-power operation at the earliest. The questions predominantly troubling the conscientious public today are simply these: Is the Kudankulam Unit-1 ready for introduction of nuclear fuel assemblies into its core (‘fuelling’), having fully completed all the safety modifications and additions recommended by AERB’s Post-Fukushima Committee to Review Safety of Indian Nuclear Power Plants? What other mandatory, pre-fuelling safety-related tasks such as conducting proper emergency drills in villages within a 30 km-radius of the reactors remain? What are the serious implications to public safety if NPCIL and AERB move forward with fuelling activity and bring this reactor to its full power of 1000 MWe in the current state of inadequate and incomplete safety status?

On some of the glaring defaults of the current actions of the DAE, NPCIL and the AERB vis-à-vis KNPP-1, there are three Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) currently before the Supreme Court of India. The next hearing of one SLP that seriously pleads for stopping fuelling activity is set for September 27. As early as on March 26, 2012 , a writ petition (no. 8262) was filed in the Madras High Court for a direction against the DAE, NPCIL, AERB and others to implement all the recommendations of the AERB’s Post-Fukushima Report before fuel-loading is started. In response, the AERB counsel informed the court , “— that before initial fuel loading is done, the compliance of all the requirements under Annexure-8 (of the AERB report) will be ensured by the AERB and it is only after its satisfaction any direction (for loading fuel) will be given—” . Subsequently , the High Court decided to reserve its orders on August 2, 2012 , pending detailed judgement to follow.

n the interim, since the court had not imposed any stay on actions by NPCIL and AERB, chairman, AERB, used this opportunity to issue a clearance for initial fuel loading of KNPP-1 on August 10 after reviews by their internal committees. The original petitioner then filed yet another writ petition (no. 22253) in the Madras HC on August 13, challenging the fuel-loading clearance given by AERB, even while 11 out of the 17 safety recommendations of the AERB’s Post-Fukushima Report still remained to be implemented. AERB, in reply to this writ petition, submitted two affidavits, first one on August 18 and another on August 22.

he post-Fukushima evaluations by an independent AERB committee, headed by a past chairman of the AERB had recommended 17 safety upgrades in Annexure-8 of its report. The committee, however, did not sort these on the basis of relative importance, urgency or priority. The sense you get from this report is that all 17 corrective steps are equally important and AERB must insist on all of them being fully implemented and tested before fuel-loading is permitted. This is consistent with the affidavit earlier submitted to the Madras HC by Mr R. Suresh Kumar, counsel for AERB, “ — that before initial fuel loading is done, the compliance of all the requirements under Annexure-8 will be ensured by the AERB and it is only after its satisfaction that any direction will be given—–” .

However, in their affidavits to the same court on August 18 and 22, AERB reversed its stand by stating, “—recommendations in Annexure-8 of the Post-Fukushima Report were considered (by the internal AERB committees) during review of the application for fuel loading submitted by NPCIL. The review indicated that KNPP-1 has adequate safety measures against external events — In order to further enhance safety , as an abundant measure , some additional safety enhancements proposed by NPCIL were reviewed in depth and accepted for implementation in a phased manner.”

“Based on the review and resolution of NPCIL submissions, AERB agreed for short-term (less than six months) and long-term ( less than two years) implementation of the Post-Fukushima recommendations from the date of the fuel-loading clearance”.

Ultimately, the Madras HC did not agree with the plea of the protesters for full implementation of Annexure-8 safety steps before fuel loading is initiated and the matter is now being heard by the Supreme Court. Even as the Supreme Court hearings are going on, the NPCIL and the AERB are already loading the nuclear fuel into KNPP-1.

What the AERB has done is a total volte face of its earlier stated positions in the Madras HC, and contrary to the spirit and recommendations of the AERB Post-Fukushima Safety Evaluation Committee.

This has happened because the DAE, NPCIL and AERB appear to be under the direct control of the PMO on the Kudankulam issue, and none of them dares to take any decisions on their own.

The PM, is for months accused in the national and international press for India’s policy paralysis, the dwindling performance of the power sector, and for substantial slippage in the execution schedules of many major projects. During his last two visits to Russia, the PM promised expeditious completion of KNPP-1&2. The local protests at site have put a monkey wrench into his promises and timetable. PM and his PMO consider their face-saving to be more important than the possibility of imperiling the lives of people living near KNPP-1, and appear to have clearly instructed the DAE-AERB combine to rush through with commissioning the plant. The subservient DAE and AERB seem to be complying with his directions.

In this hurried approach to starting the KNPP-1 project, what essential safety precautions are the NPCIL and AERB tossing by the wayside? As per current plans, the reactor will be operated at least for the first two years or more at the full power level of 1000 MWe, without its primary containment being assessed for its ultimate load-bearing capacity; without the availability of a portable diesel-powered unit with sensors and instrumentation to monitor essential safety parameters in case of a total blackout; in the absence of a set of mobile self-powered pumping set for emergency area use; without rectifying the serious inadequacies in instrumentation for independent monitoring of plant status during major accidents; and without the addition of mobile back-up power units like air-cooled diesel sets. Why each of these actions should take as long as 24 months to complete is unimaginable, but these actions have to be indeedexpedited, since they are all essential for mitigating the consequences of a major accident.

The AERB committee has also strongly recommended the urgent installation of an additional seismically-qualified 8,000 cubic-meter capacity back-up water storage tank as an alternate source for use under emergency situations where such actions as injection of borated water into the core and into the spent-fuel pool, charging water into the steam generator secondary side, etc will require excessive amounts of water. The already provided emergency water-storage facility has not been seismically-qualified and may not withstand moderate earthquakes. This anomaly has to be urgently rectified through analysis and repair. This existing storage was also found to be inadequate in holding capacity , for removing decay heat for a period of a minimum one week . This too is to be rectified. In case of a beyond design basis accident (BDBA), the emergency operating procedures to be used are still to be formulated and documented, to help impart training on BDBA to the operating staff.

It is more than 16 months since the Fukushima accident occurred and NPCIL has not even started planning for these procedures. Each of the above tasks is put in for “short-term” completion, namely, within the next six months. I doubt whether a satisfactory completion of many of these tasks can be achieved in six months, each may take more like one year at least.

As it stands, the important point to note is that NPCIL and AERB are NOT going to carry out any of the short or long-term tasks mentioned above, before the reactor is fuelled and brought to 1000 MWe power level. This approach is totally unacceptable from the safety point of view. Whether these 17 safety corrections are implemented or not, the probability of a major accident will remain more or less the same. But, ALL these safety corrections are necessary to ensure that the mitigation of the consequences will be far more acceptable with the corrections implemented than without, and these safety corrections will provide a distinctly safer environment for populations around the KNPP-1. Therefore, ALL the above-mentioned long-term and short-term safety corrections recommended by the AERB committee must be completed before the reactor is fuelled. Whatever fuel so far loaded into the core can be taken out safely and stored for future use.

The author Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan is a past chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

Reproduced from DNA

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Kudankulam: Antinuclear Fishermen lay siege to Tuticorin port


Written by Sam Daniel, Edited by Mala Das

September 22, 2012

Anti-nuclear protesters lay siege to Tuticorin port

Anti-nuclear protesters lay siege to Tuticorin port

Protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant continue unabated with thousands of fishermen having laid siege to the port at Tuticorin today, demanding the closure of the controversial plant.

Nearly thousand fishing boats have blocked entry to the Tuticorin harbour, which is situated around 60 miles away from the nuclear power plant. The loading of nuclear fuel, which is on at one of the reactors at the Kudankulam plant, has not in the least dented the determination of the protesters, all fishermen hailing from the districts of Tuticorin, Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli – where the plant is located.

“Fishermen in Kudankulam and surrounding districts are protesting over the last 400 days, but the government is not listening and we will have to resort to these kind of protests,” said a fisherman. These fishermen are worried that the plant, once commissioned, will destroy their livelihood. Subash Fernando, Spokesperson of the Agitation Committee, says, “Once the plant is commissioned, the radiation from it would disqualify our catch for export to the European market, and even if nuclear fuel is loaded, it’s not too late to stop it”.Two expert committees appointed by the government have found the plant to be safe, dubbing public fears unfounded.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who initially supported the cause of the movement, later did a U-turn, citing that the project could bring relief to the state which is reeling under a severe power shortage. Around a lakh and half people, who live in the vicinity, are opposed to the plant. “If India believes in democracy, the government should listen to the people.

If Japan could have a Fukushima disaster, imagine what could happen in India which was also hit by a tsunami not long ago,” said a villager. Presently, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition that challenges the go-ahead given to the nuclear plant. Petitioners cite that the plant is yet to incorporate 11 of the 17 safety recommendations made by a government task force after the Fukushima disaster.

However, the atomic energy department claims these are only enhanced safety features which would be implemented in phases. At Idinthakarai – ground zero for the protests – just three kilometres away from the plant, around four to five thousand villagers are continuing their protest demanding the closure of the plant. Two weeks ago, around 10 thousand people marched towards the plant in a bid to lay siege; police opened tear gas and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the crowd.

A non-bailable warrant has been issued against SP Udhayakumar, the face of the movement, as he failed to honour a court summon. He says “the government is trying to project them as the most wanted terrorists”. The Kudankulam power plant is the first nuclear project to near completion after the Fukushima disaster. Some countries like Germany have decided to turn away from nuclear energy and the international community is keenly watching how India handles the rising opposition to the project..

Reproduced from ndtv.com

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Protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant continue unabated with hundreds of fishermen having laid siege to the port at Tuticorin today, demanding the closure of the controversial plant.

Around 200 anti-nuclear activists were detained today in Tuticorin, while they were heading to Idinthakarai, the venue of protest against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. The activists were set to join the villagers who have buried themselves neck-deep in sand along the shore, demanding a halt to the preparations for loading of fuel into one of two nuclear reactors at the controversial plant.

Around 1000 villagers near Kudankulam, including women and children, buried themselves neck deep on the sea shore protesting against the upcoming nuclear plant. Over the last one year they have been demanding closure of the plant alleging the project would destroy life and livelihood. Two expert committees have found the plant to be safe. The Supreme Court too has refused to stay nuclear fuel loading.

Hundreds of anti-nuclear protesters forming a human chain stood in sea waters for the second day today demanding halting of preparations for fuel loading into the Kudankulam nuclear reactor in Tamil Nadu.

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Koodakulam: Latest Pictures


Click here –> Koodakulam: Latest Pictures

9000 anti nuke protesters assemble at IDINTHAKARAI


tvaraj:

Antinuclear logo

The Anti nuke protesters are assembling in large numbers in the protest venue inspite of police intimidation and terror tactics. The tent has already housed 9000 people so far and many people stand outside the protest venue as there is no space inside the pandal.

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Originally posted on kracktivist:

Date: Friday, 4 May, 2012, 3:01 PM

Idinthakarai
04.05.2012
We are on the 4th day of the indefinite hunger strike since 1, May, 2012. Nearly 300 women have already joined the fast today with those 25 activists who had already began the fast on the international workers’ day. Women activists are still joining. They are being prevented and intimidated by the police. Their coming is delayed due to police harassment.
Police have blocked the entrance of the villages and threaten the hired vehicle drivers not to transport people to Idindakarai. If they dared, police threaten them to cancel their vehicle licenses. So, the drivers are not willing to come to idinthakarai. Some vehicle drivers who dare to pick up people and are being stopped on their way and asked to go back. The police have deployed vajra and varun vehicles at the entrances of the villages.
Even If…

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En masse sedition in Koodankulam # Censorship


tvaraj:

Antinuclear logo

“Pushparayan, Jesuraj and I have been living in an open quater-km-radius prison since March 19, 2012,” writes Dr. S.P. Udayakumar, convenor of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy that is spearheading the protests. “Thousands of people sleep around our house at night in order to protect us from possible police action and mid-night arrest. Hundreds of youth protect us round the clock.”

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Originally posted on kracktivist:

How can a peaceful agitation of villagers against a nuclear power plant in their backyard be a seditious activity? Yet an unprecedented 3500 protestors have been charged with sedition,   says NITYANAND JAYARAMAN. Pix: dianuke.org  -

Between September and December 2011, 107 FIRs were registered in just one police station – the Koodankulam P.S. – against more than 55,000 people. That is about 30 percent of the total eligible voters in that Assembly constituency. The cases began to be registered within a few months of the new Government assuming power in Tamil Nadu. Of these, 3500 people are accused of “sedition” and/or “waging war against the state” – perhaps the largest number for any police station in independent or British India. The actual numbers of accused and FIRs are likely to be at least double this if the data is updated to April 2012. Ironically, the accused are…

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Anti- Nuke Activists and Koodankulam protesters resume indefinite hunger strike


tvaraj:

Antinuclear logo

Twelve representatives from the affected villages around Koodankulam met District Collector R Selvaraj and other senior police officials and held discussions to sort out the Koodankulam stalemate. “When we met the district administration and handed over our demands, they asked us to delay the agitation for two days. We have conveyed their request to the village council members who are backing anti-nuke protests,” said Father Arimavalavan, a priest who led the village representatives.

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Originally posted on kracktivist:

 

Protest leader Udayakumar says that they are still ‘committed’ to continue their non-violent protests against the nuke plant

Jeemon Jacob
Idinthakarai

Anti-nuke protesters have started their fourth indefinite hunger strike at Idinthakarai Lourde Matha Church grounds on Tuesday afternoon. Twenty five villagers representing four villages have gone on an indefinite hunger strike. From 4 May onwards, women will also join the protests. According to Dr SP Udayakumar, convener, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), the people of the affected villages decided to relaunch their agitation against the commissioning of the nuclear plant in Koodankulam.

“Though we have announced that we will relaunch agitation from May, in the morning we decided to delay the agitation for two days honouring the requests of the district administration. But our people were not ready to delay the agitation. They wanted to resume hunger strike at the earliest and we are not…

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Work continues at Kundakulam Nuclear plant as does police crackdown on protesters


Originally posted on kracktivist:

KoodankulamNuclear Power Project site, commissioning expected by the end of May

Jeemon Jacob
Thiruvanthapuram, 2 nd April 2012

Work at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project site continues to be on a fast track, and according to sources the plant will be ready to commission within eight weeks. According to an official working at Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project site, the commissioning of the plant is expected by the end of May. Scientists and officials had reviewed the progress of the project last week. “Our scientists and technicians are working over time and we will be able to complete the project in time,” said the official who wished to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, the government crackdown on anti-nuke protesters continues. The Madurai Passport Officer has directed PMANE convener Dr SP Udayakumar to surrender his passport as a criminal case is pending against him. On Friday 30 March, officials from the intelligence bureau…

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Kudankulam on fire …


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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From October 2011 onwards, thousands of protesters and villagers living around the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southern Tamil Nadu state, are blocking highways, staging anti-nuclear demonstrations and hunger strikes, preventing further construction work of the nuclear power plant, and demanding its closure.

Why?

Because they distrust the assurances given by the Central Government regarding safety, and fear the disasters that could arise from

  • environmental impact of nuclear power generation
  • radioactive waste
  • nuclear accidents
Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

The phrase “nuclear accident”, immediately brings to our minds the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant also known as Fukushima Dai-ichi (in Japanese dai-ichi means “number one”), after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. This disaster culminated in a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and release of radioactive materials into the environment.

Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Tight crop sh...

Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Tight crop showing reactors 4, 3, 2 and 1, reading left (South) to right (North). Area shown is about 600 by 350 metres. 日本語: 福島第一原子力発電所。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The devastation at Fukushima Dai-ichi is the largest nuclear disaster since the catastrophic nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine on 26 April 1986.

The agitation in Kudankulam

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), which was initiated in 1988 by an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed on November 20, 1988 by former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, for the construction of two nuclear reactors.

The agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project started as low-key protests by anti-nuclear protesters. About 20,000 residents of Kudankulam and surrounding villages marched out to show their support for the activists. More than a thousand local fishermen joined them and announced a strike in support of the protests.

The anti-nuclear protesters have stated specific reasons for opposing the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP). They say, “More than 1 million people live within the 30 km radius of the KKNPP which far exceeds the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s (AERB) stipulations. It is quite impossible to evacuate this many people quickly and efficiently in case of a nuclear disaster at Koodankulam”, etc.

S.P. Udayakumar

“Fukushima has greatly helped our agitation,” said S.P. Udayakumar, activist and leader of the voluntary People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE). For 20 years, Udayakumar has led PMANE on a campaign against the Koodankulam project.

“The nuclear plant is unsafe” and “the safety analysis report and the site evaluation study have not been made public. No public hearing was held. It’s an authoritarian project that has been imposed on the people,” he said.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the top government agency to ensure safety standards, conducted a safety audit of India’s NPPs a few months back. Despite all clear certificates, anti-nuclear activists and experts have called for an audit by an independent body. They say that given the non-transparent nature of India’s state-controlled nuclear energy sector, there is no way to estimate whether safety issues will be carefully followed.

Anti-Nuclear protests and Hunger Strike

An indefinite hunger strike was started by the anti-nuclear protesters on September 11, 2012. With the hunger strike becoming a serious threat to the health of 127 participants, negotiations between the protesters and the state government of Tamilnadu began on September 15, 2012 but it soon reached a stalemate. The protests and the hunger strike ended twelve days later with J. Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, announcing that the state government would adopt a resolution against launching the nearly completed nuclear power plant. She fulfilled her promise the following day.

On Thursday September 22, 2012 the Tamil Nadu Cabinet passed a resolution urging the Center to halt the work on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project until the fears of the local population over the safety of the plants are allayed. The 12-day fast by the anti-nuclear protesters came to an end following assurances by Ms. Jayalalitha.

Photo: A. Shaikmohideen

Rt. Rev. Yvon Ambroise, Bishop of Tuticorin Roman Catholic Diocese, came to the protest venue at Idinthakarai on Thursday and offered fruit juice to those who were on hunger strike. He addressed the gathering and explained in detail the demands put forth during their meeting with Ms. Jayalalithaa in Chennai on the previous day. “We urged the Chief Minister that the State Cabinet pass a resolution demanding the permanent closure of the KKNPP and appealed to her to withdraw cases against some of the protesters during the agitation. We also appealed to her to draw a comprehensive alternative energy policy, which should make sure tapping of non-conventional energy sources at the optimum level so that the environment and people living near such power generation units do not get affected. Since the Chief Minister’s replies satisfied us to the maximum possible extent, we agreed to withdraw the ongoing indefinite fast.”

S.P. Udhayakumar, leader of PMANE gave the details of various meetings to be held in Madurai and at Samithoppu in Kanyakumari district to decide on the future course of action against nuclear programmes in the country. “We’ll even lay siege to the KKNPP in the near future to ensure its permanent closure,” he said.

Before the protesters left the venue they vowed that even though the fast had come to an end nevertheless they would intensify their struggle against the Union government in the days to come.

However, the sprawling pandal erected for the protest is yet to be dismantled. “It will be there till the Union government gives a satisfying reply to our demands. If not, the pandal will come in handy for us again,” said S.V. Antony, president, Uvari panchayat.

This agitation by the anti-nuclear protesters forced Ms. Jayalalitha to make a u-turn on her plans to add six reactors to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant which already has two reactors constructed, though not yet operating.

Ms. Jayalalitha wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging the government to put the expansion on hold until local concerns were addressed. People have been “agonized, disturbed and gripped by a fear psychosis due to the scope and magnitude of the issue in the wake of the Fukushima mishap,” she wrote.

Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, convener of Government of India’s Experts Group (EG), which did a survey of the safety features in the plant, expressed his willingness to hold discussions with the anti-nuclear protesters. On December 2, 2011 PMANE released a press statement welcoming Dr.  Muthunayagam’s willingness to hold discussions with them.

Press Release

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) welcomes the statement of the Central Government’s Experts Group (EG) convener, Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, that expresses the group’s willingness to hold discussions with the scientific team of the PMANE.

We request Dr. Muthunayagam to suggest a few possible dates and venue for such a meeting as soon as possible. We would also request him to arrange a visit of the KKNPP site for all the 28 members of our scientific team.

It is also pertinent to remind him of our request for some of the basic documents on the KKNPP project such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Site Evaluation Study, Safety Analysis Report, VVER Performance Report, Detailed Project Report (DPR) and all other relevant documents for reactors 1 and 2 in order to facilitate our scientific team’s meaningful dialogue with the Central and State teams.

We would also take this opportunity to insist that the work on the two reactors be halted as demanded by the Tamil Nadu Government’s Cabinet Resolution even as we are engaged in a dialogue process.

S. P. Udayakumar, Ph.D.
Coordinator
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has also been filed against the government’s civil nuclear program at the Apex Supreme Court. The PIL specifically prays for the “staying of all proposed nuclear power plants till satisfactory safety measures and cost-benefit analyses are completed by independent agencies”.

In February 2012, Mr. Udayakumar sent a legal notice to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for insinuating that the anti-Kudankulam protests were funded by United States and Scandinavian non-government organisations.

The pro-government scientific community

The anti-nuclear protestors themselves have enough detractors who rally and protest in favor of commissioning this nuclear power plant. Here are some views by the scientific community on this issue.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, after visiting the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant on November 6, 2011 asserted that there is no need for any panic. “The third generation nuclear reactor is totally safe and is a boon to the people,” he said.

He emphasized, “I am a scientist, I am technologist, I support nuclear energy along with solar and wind power as it is a clean and green energy which is very much required for the country’s rapid growth now”.

He further added that the reactors located at 13.5 m height would not be effected even by a Tsunami nor would an earthquake threaten them, as Kudankulam is not within any seismic zone. The scientists have taken into account all these natural calamities before designing and fabricating the plant. While 99% of the spent fuel would be processed for reuse in the reactors, the remaining one percent would be converted and protected within a thickly walled underground concrete containment and no waste from the reactor will be dumped in the sea.

Former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India Dr. M.R. Srinivasan said that one should never compare the Fukushima plant with Kudankulam and added “The Fukushima plant was built on a beachfront, but the Kudankulam was constructed on a solid terrain and that too keeping all the safety aspects in mind. Also, we are not in a tsunami prone area. The plants in Kudankulam have a double containment system which can withstand high pressure. At least Rs 14,000 crore has been spent. If we don’t operate the plant immediately, it will affect the economic stability of our country.

In mid November 2011 Mr. Srinivasan speaking on the ‘Current scenario of nuclear power’ at a meeting organized by the Press Information Bureau said that since options like gas, solar and wind energies are expensive, one should never say ‘no’ to nuclear energy, “If we don’t go ahead with nuclear plans, we wont be able to supply electricity to an aspiring population of India. So it’s necessary that the 15-member committee, appointed by the Centre, discuss every point of it with the people,” he said.

A center panel constituted by the Government of India, which did a survey of the safety features in the plant, said the Kudankulam reactors are the safest and fears of the people are not based on scientific principles. The panel’s convener Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, also added that the protesters have asked for some documents which are not related to the safety of the reactor hence he suspects the very nature of their questions.

Nuclear scientist and principal scientific adviser to the federal Government of India Rajagopala Chidambaram has said “We have learnt lessons from the Fukushima nuclear accident, particularly on the post-shutdown cooling system,” and also added Fukushima nuclear accident should not deter or inhibit India from pursuing a safe civil nuclear program.

Recent Developments

In early January 2012, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) for the first time admitted that the deaths of some employees and their dependents at the Kalpakkam nuclear site situated about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Chennai, were caused by multiple myeloma, a rare form of bone marrow cancer linked to nuclear radiation. The DAE acknowledged that nine people, including three employees working at the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam died of multiple myeloma and bone cancer between 1995 and 2011. The DAE did not willingly divulge the details. This information came to light in response to a Right to Information inquiry from October 2011. The DAE had previously stonewalled all previous requests for information.

While the prime minister (PM) accuses NGOs funded from abroad of trying to sabotage the ‘state-of-the-art’ Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP), various studies carried out by government agencies as well as experts suggest that the site is unsafe for a nuclear project.

The studies reveal potential threats to the nuclear reactor campus from near-shore tsunami, volcanic eruptions, and Karst (vulnerable landscape). DNA has a copy of the reports submitted by the agencies and experts,” says the website DNA in an article titled “DNA investigations: Kudankulam’s lurking dangers” published on Feb 28, 2012.

An expert committee appointed by the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday submitted its report on the safety aspects of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNNP) to Chief Minister Jayalalitha, marking a crucial stage in the debate over the project. Ms. Jayalalitha in the wake of the acute power shortages in the state, which certain quarters say has been artificially created (see Press meet – Artificial Power cuts in Tamilnadu), has made a u-turn once again by favouring the commissioning of the plant.  “In accordance with (today’s) cabinet decision, immediate steps will be taken (to facilitate commissioning) of the plant,” she said in a statement, breaking her silence over the issue.

S.P. Udayakumar reacted ” Of course, we feel cheated by the chief minister J. Jayalalithaa. She has been using us. She encouraged us all these days and allowed us to carry on with the protest. I visited the chief minister’s office twice and met her and also visited the collector’s office. Even then, there were cases against me. Why didn’t the police arrest me then? She has let us down… But yes, I felt we were deceived. We were tricked. But I could a sense a pattern, a build-up in the direction of the state government’s reversal of its decision to support the protesters. When I met the chief minister for the first time she was very cordial. I had a one-on-one talk for 45 minutes. But the second time she did not even talk to me. So the state government’s decision was not entirely unexpected. It was only delayed by seven months.”

There is a general opinion in Tamilnadu that to win the Sankarankoil by-poll Ms. Jayalalitha acted as a sympathizer of the anti-nuclear protesters and now that her party (AIADMK) has won the by-poll she doesn’t need them any more.

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Kalpakkam in tears …


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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India has 19 online nuclear power plants generating 4,560 megawatts of electricity. Electricity generated by thermal, hydro and wind power exceeds more than what nuclear power generated. Even so, to meet the soaring demand for electricity, the government of India seeks the development of the nuclear-power industry.

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On March 11, 2011, the tsunami developed after a tremendous earthquake of magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale, devastated Japan’s Daichi nuclear power plant complex. It took all six Tokyo Electric Power Company’s reactors offline.

“THE LIGHTS ARE not going off all over Japan, but the nuclear power plants are. Of the 54 reactors in those plants, with a combined capacity of 47.5 gigawatts (GW, a thousand megawatts), only two are operating today. A good dozen are unlikely ever to reopen: six at Fukushima Dai-ichi, which suffered a calamitous triple meltdown after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11th 2011, and others either too close to those reactors or now considered to be at risk of similar disaster. The rest, bar two, have shut down for maintenance or “stress tests” since the Fukushima accident and not yet been cleared to start up again. It is quite possible that none of them will get that permission before the two still running shut for scheduled maintenance by the end of April.” – Oliver Morton (in “The dream that failed” – www.economist.com)

Since the coastal areas in India are prone to both earthquake and tsunami, certain sectors of the public in India have now raised objections to the proposed nuclear-power generation programs.

Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

The antinuclear protests staged by the local villagers spearheaded by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) has prompted the government to put on hold the commissioning of the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamilnadu.

PMANE, an antinuclear group in Tamil Nadu led by Mr. S. P. Udayakumar, a teacher, which urges the government to shut down the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant to preserve the ecology of the largely untouched coastal landscape also educates the locals about the harm nuclear power could cause.

Mr. Udayakumar and his PMANE group beleive that nuclear power benefits “industrial India” only and not the average person. “Our end game is to close down this nuclear power plant. We think that this (the nuclear power plant) will have a disastrous impact on our livelihood, on our future generations. Because the Indian government never talks about waste, never talks about decommissioning. It does not tell us the full story,” he said.

In early March 2012, Udayakumar said: “We have been carrying out hunger strikes, rallies, public meetings, seminars, conferences, and other demonstrations such as shaving our heads, cooking on the street, burning the models of the nuclear plants. This struggle has been going on for the past 197 days and the morale of the people is still very very high”.

In Early February this year, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee told a gathering in Indore, “All atomic energy plants in the country are totally secured as per international standards and are also capable of dealing with natural calamities like tsunamis or earthquakes.”

But amidst the bland assurances lurks a darker reality.

Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant

Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant

The Madras Atomic Power Station is located at Kalpakkam, situated about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Chennai, India. In 2012, the Department of Atomic Energy for the first time admitted that the deaths of some employees and their dependents at the Kalpakkam nuclear site were caused by multiple myeloma, a rare form of bone marrow cancer linked to nuclear radiation. The DAE acknowledged that nine people, including three employees working at the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam died of multiple myeloma and bone cancer between 1995 and 2011. The DAE did not willingly divulge the details. This information came to light in response to a Right to Information inquiry from October 2011. The DAE had previously stonewalled all previous requests for information.

  • “The report paints a troubling picture of the policies at the DAE, which sends out high-ranking officials with bland assurances for the public about the nation’s NPPs while privately compiling reports about their health effects, concerns that can only grow as New Delhi presses forward with its nuclear program. Furthermore, the statements that Indian NPPs can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis, made in a country vulnerable to both, smacks of more than a little hubris, as Tokyo Electric and Power Co. made similar pronouncements before the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed its Fukushima Daichi nuclear power complex.” – John Daly, Sun, 26 February 2012, (in “The Darker Reality of India’s Nuclear Power Goals” oilprice.com)

The following documentary video produced by the Tamil news paper Nakkeeran of Chennai affirms the concern of the people living in and around Kalpakkam. Though all reporting and conversations are in Tamil, the images tell the story vividly.

1:12 – 1:33 Shows the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project
1: 34 – 1:58 Atomic Energy Township, Kalpakkam in Kancheepuram District,Tamilnadu. There are many vilages surrounding Kalpakkam.
1:59 – 2:58 shows 13-year-old mentally retarded Arjun from birth and born with 6 fingers on his right hand. His father was a contract labourer at the nuclear power plant. Arjun speaks like a 5-year-old.
2:59 – 3:20 3-year-old infant Bhuvaneswari born with a stump for a right hand.
3:21 – 3:46 Gokhul, the son of a temporary supervisor, born with a stump for a left hand.
3:47 – 4:04 Jothika studying in standard 3, mentally retarded. Her father Venkatesan worked at the nuclear power plants.
4:05 – 4:50 Suriyaprakash with a deformed left leg.
4:51 – 5:12 A woman king coconut vendor with a gout like swelling.
5:13 – 8:15 A woman complains about breathing, throat infection and swelling of limbs. She further tells about children being born with stumps for limbs, deaf, dumb and other abnormalities. She also says can’t do any agricultural work because the crops are attacked by radiation. The air that she and others breath makes them ill.
8:16 – 8:58 Another woman complains about radiation affecting their health.
8:59 – 7:16 A man says that the birth of deformed and retarded children can be due to the radiation.
7:17 – 7:31 Another man says that plants don’t grow well. Trees don’t bear fruit.
7:32 – 7:56 A young man says that the Kalpakkam plant has been shut down for repairs very often. He says that he has worked there for the past 18 years. He says that there is a rumour that many have died due to radiation but he is not sure whether its rumor or fact. But he affirms that the people of the villages around Kalpakkam are being affected due to radiation.
7:57 – 8:14 – Another young man affirms that children are born deformed, deaf and dumb.
8:15 – till end people living in Kalpakkam talk about the hardships they face and talk vehemently against the Kalpakkam Nuclear plant.

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