The construction of a tunnel and a laboratory for the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) would not impact the Mullaperiyar dam located at least 45km away from the project site, said D. Indumathi of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.

Speaking at a discussion on INO organised by the Physic Department of the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, on Thursday, Dr. Indumathi said that controlled blasting for setting up the laboratory underground would be held at intervals of 12 hours.

Each blast would last only for a few seconds and the vibration felt a few hundred meters from site would be less than 1mm. She said, more than 300 quarries, which employ open blasting, were operating in Idukki district alone. The tunnels would be constructed using modern technology, she said.

“The INO site is in seismic zone 2, the lowest in India, and hence there is no room for any concern regarding tremors. The project is entirely located within Tamil Nadu and hence all procedures to engage the various departments of the Government of Tamil Nadu have been followed,” said Dr. Indumathi, the outreach coordinator of the project.

Lab location

The INO lab comprising one large and three small underground caverns to house detectors would come up at Bodi West Hills, in Theni. There would be an access tunnel to reach the caverns.

The site was selected considering the presence of Charnockite rock, which was of good quality. The low rainfall and humidity of the region was also ideal for the detectors, she said.

The muck produced from the blasting would be mostly chunks of rock, which could be used as construction material. Nearly 10 per cent of the muck would be utilised for the project and the rest would be sold by a Tamil Nadu government agency. Care would be taken to prevent possible aerial muck dispersal, which could be caused by unusual wind speeds during some seasons, she said.

Earlier, Naba K. Mondal, spokesperson of the project, said the neutrino laboratories could not be used for monitoring nuclear reactors.

The monitoring would be possible only if the lab is set up at least 30 metres close to the reactor. However, no such proposals have come up for consideration, he said.

Neutrino factories, as suggested by some, only existed in dreams and no technology was available for such ventures.

It might take at least two decades for such facilities to materialise, he said.

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