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Updated: July 2, 2011 00:48 IST

Atomic energy is safe, says Srikumar Banerjee

Staff Reporter
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Srikumar Banerjee
Srikumar Banerjee

Nuclear industry “most strictly regulated one” in the world

Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Srikumar Banerjee said here on Friday that nuclear power production was safe, given the stringent regulatory mechanism put in place.

He was speaking at the 52nd convocation of Sri Venkateswara University after receiving an honorary degree.

Dr. Banerjee called the nuclear industry the “most strictly regulated one” worldwide and noted that the AEC had taken several steps to strengthen the regulatory system through legislation, greater transparency and improved emergency response preparedness. “The Multinational Design Evaluation Programme of the Nuclear Energy Agency is yet another mechanism for a harmonised safety review of new nuclear power plants,” he said.

Dr. Banerjee said: “The safety-associated systems — be it construction, shielding, cooling of spent fuel, storage of waste, station black-out situation, emergency preparedness, exposures of the occupational worker and general public — are of paramount importance while designing, constructing and commissioning a nuclear power reactor.”

Chernobyl and the recent Fukushima accident generated a clamour for stringent safety evaluation. Radiation was being made out to be bad by “some misguided friends.” Nuclear technology was, in fact, having societal applications in industry, medicine, agriculture and environment protection, he pointed out.

Allaying fears over the perceived ill-effects of radiation, he said humans were naturally exposed to radiation from surroundings and radioisotopes present in the body. “In Hyderabad, the natural background radiation is close to the global per caput average dose of 2400 micro Sever per annum, while it is much higher in southwest Kerala coast, due to the radioactive monazite sands. Our Tarapur nuclear plant contributes 20-50 micro Sv, while Kakrapar contributes only about 3.5 micro Sv.”

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