Kudankulam plant is absolutely safe even without the 17 recommendations of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, says NPCIL

During a hearing in the Supreme Court on Thursday on petitions related to the Kudankulam plant, Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners, argued that the plant got a vague environmental clearance in 1989 when the site was not decided, no Environment Impact Assessment was done and no public hearing was conducted which was mandatory under law. He said three critical changes were made in the plant.

He said, “Under the earlier plan, the spent fuel was to be stored in Russia, now it will be stored at the plant. Earlier water was being taken from the local dam, but now it will be taken from the sea, and earlier the Ministry of Environment and Forests had said that change in sea water temperature must not be more than 5 degrees but now it will be 7 degrees without any MoEF clearance.”

In its response, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) said, “The Kudankulam plant is absolutely safe even without the 17 recommendations of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. Even if a Fukushima [in Japan] type of incident were to occur, the Kudankulam plant is fully equipped with all the safety measures to withstand any such unlikely event. This, however, does not mean that the 17 recommendations made by the AERB will not be complied with.”

With regard to the vulnerability of the plant to terrorist attacks, sabotage, etc., the NPCIL said it had elaborate physical security arrangements in place . Addressing the apprehensions about storage of spent fuel, the NPCIL said, “The entire spent fuel is not treated as waste, as the same can be re-processed to recover useful nuclear fuel. The spent fuel discharged is to be stored under water in a pool within the primary containment. A capacity of more than seven years of full power operation of reactor will be available in the pool. After this time, this spent fuel can be transported to a national facility for re-processing.”