No answers on project cost were given by NPCIL: Samiti

The Konkan Bachao Samiti (KBS), which is opposing the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant (JNPP) in Ratnagiri, has said that several questions on the project remain unanswered.

At a recent press conference, Vivek Monteiro and Adwait Pednekar of the KBS said several issues were raised at meetings held among the KBS, Janhit Seva Samiti (JSS) and officials of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), at the instance of Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests.

Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan had said that the plant's cost would be Rs. 1,00,000 crore and people would be offered the best rehabilitation package.

Mr. Pednekar said till now no answers on the project cost were given by the NPCIL and nothing was said about the cost of power. At the two meetings held with the NPCI L and the others, it was clear that the JNPP, till date, did not receive regulatory approval from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). I

In fact, till date, the design and detailed project specifications were not submitted to the AERB for scrutiny and approval. What was submitted was only a safety assessment report for the French Evolutionary Pressurised Reactor (EPR), at Flamanville, as a sample, he pointed out.

The NPCIL's claim that the cost of power would be competitive and affordable was not backed by any verifiable data.

Mr. Pednekar said, “We have received reliable information that the European regulatory authorities from Finland (STUK), France (ASN) and the United Kingdom (HSE) had jointly written to Areva, (which is building the JNPP), raising certain serious objections to the current design of control and instrumentation for vital safety aspects of the EPR plant. It is reliably learnt that only last month, the U.S. regulator (NRC) has written to Areva, expressing similar concerns.”

The KBS urged that before any further steps were taken in respect of the JNPP project, and certainly before entering into any binding contract with Areva, the detailed and specific design of the EPR should be subjected to a thorough regulatory scrutiny and receive formal approval.

It said that during the process of scrutiny by the AERB for regulatory approvals for the design, public hearings should be conducted, as done in the U.K, the U.S. and elsewhere.

The KBS and the JSS said the local residents were opposed to the JNPP and refused to accept any compensation.

The KBS and the JSS have not raised the issue of compensation at any point in the discussions with the NPCIL or the Environment Ministry.

“The most important point that has come from the discussions with the NPCIL is the information that the project does not have proper disposal or storage mechanism for nuclear waste and the information in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), prepared by the NEERI about the nuclear waste storage and disposal, is completely false,” the KBS said. The KBS and JSS demanded that the EIA be scrapped.

The KBS has circulated a set of some questions that need to be raised and answered related to approval of the plant, land acquisition, cost, radioactive by-products, reprocessing of spent fuel and disposal of radioactive waste and civil nuclear liability limits.

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