Former energy secretary and convenor of Forum for Better Visakha E.A.S. Sarma has urged the State government to vehemently oppose the setting up of the two proposed nuclear power plants and resist the Civil Nuclear Liability Cap Bill and act in line with what is good for the people of the State, rather than towing the line of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
In a letter addressed to Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, he noted that he was given to understand that the State government was going all out to welcome the setting up of two large-sized nuclear power plants, one near Kovvada in Srikakulam district and the other near Nizampatnam, based on reactors imported from the US. On the other hand, the residents in these areas had expressed serious apprehensions about such projects on two grounds, namely, that the projects would cause physical displacement of the people and that they would also expose them to radioactive pollution, he pointed out.
Dr. Sarma also forwarded his letter to the Prime Minister last week in which he referred to the laxity of DAE in preventing the dumping of radioactive scrap that led to loss of life in Delhi recently and the potential dangers involved in the setting up of large nuclear power plants like the two proposed plants in AP.
“I believe that you have not been adequately briefed by your officers about the potential dangers involved in nuclear power plants. Accidents at the Three Mile Island plant in the US and Chernobyl plant in Russia bring back memories of the horrors of a nuclear accident… There have been disconcerting reports in the international press of late about the radioactive contamination of ground water in the case of at least 27 out of the total 104 nuclear power plants in the US. During the last two months, there have been cases of such radioactive contamination of groundwater in two nuclear power plants, one in Vermont and another, the Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey. The local elected representatives are up in arms against the managers of these plants and orders to close down the plants are being issued. This is the situation in a developed country like the US where regulation and enforcement of the law and the rules is generally strict,” he stated.
Unfortunately, in its anxiety to placate the nuclear MNCs for whose benefit India seems to have signed the controversial Indo-US Nuclear deal, the Central government was going ahead with the introduction of another highly-controversial Bill, namely, the Civil Nuclear Liability Cap Bill, in Parliament, seeking to limit the liability on the developers and reactor suppliers arising from a possible nuclear disaster, he opined. In case Parliament passes this Bill, it would provide an incentive to the reactor suppliers to slacken the safety norms, thus enhancing the likelihood of accidents. The damage caused by a nuclear accident would be extensive in terms of loss of life and injury and it would affect generations of people through genetic disorders. The damage caused to the surface and the groundwater resources would be enormous and irreversible, he said.
Keywords: Nuclear energy issues