Stating that seismic activity in India differs from that in Japan, Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, said here on Monday that the possibility of a tsunami at Jaitapur, the site for a proposed nuclear power plant, was low.

“Seismic activity in Japan and India are two different things. There are certain locations in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. So, I won't say a tsunami will not occur, but its intensity will not be that high. And specifically, since Jaitapur is on a plateau, the possibility of a tsunami there is low. Though it's along the seashore, it's at a [considerable] height,” Dr. Kakodkar said in his lecture on nuclear energy at the inaugural function of a parliamentary training centre at the Vidhan Bhavan.

N-stations can be in seismic zones

He said building nuclear power stations even in seismic zones four and five was not an impossible task. “In Japan, 54 plants are in zone five. The U.S. has 10 of them in this zone. There are different kinds of reactors [designed] after studying what kind of earthquake can take place,” he said.

Closer home, the Kalpakkam power station was also hit by the tsunami in 2004, but “it has started again,” Dr. Kakodkar pointed out.

Japan echo: global review

In the wake of the catastrophe in Japan, however, there would be an international review of reactor designs, he said. Citing International Atomic Energy Agency updates, he said blasts at the Fukushima plant in Japan were in the reactor building and not in the containment area. The accident rating of the incident was 4 as opposed to 5 for the Three Mile Island accident and 7 for Chernobyl.

The nuclear scientist sought to dispel concerns over radioactivity, impact on marine life and environment and waste management with reference to the Jaitapur project. He said there was “no need to doubt” reactors of the government-owned French company Areva, which were being used for power generation in France too.

Farming around plant

Dr. Kakodkar said farming was being carried out in the green belt around the Tarapur power station. As for concerns over marine ecology, the water released from a reactor's condenser was five degrees warmer than normal water, which could cause no harm to the marine ecology.

On spent fuel, Dr. Kakodkar said: “We have the technology for a repository [of spent fuel]. It is said about Jaitapur that there is no discussion on waste management. High-level waste never remains in the power station; it goes to the reprocessing plant. When the proposal for a reprocessing plant comes up, discussions on waste fuel will be held.”

Energy options: nuclear, solar

Dr. Kakodkar said that with rising energy needs, India needed to stress on nuclear and solar energy to overcome power scarcity.

“There is no doubt that we have to give importance to solar energy, but we cannot get it 24 hours. And, storing it on a large scale is not economically viable. For today's needs, we have to use all the energy resources [oil, fossil fuels, wind, solar], but for the future, nuclear and solar are the only two options,” he said.

Along with energy security, he stressed on achieving energy independence as well.

‘Intelligent buyers'

“India is neither among reactor suppliers, nor buyers. We are an experienced nation and whatever we import, we will enforce modifications as per our conditions. We are intelligent buyers,” he said.