When contacted on the allegations of environmentalists that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, prepared by Engineers India Limited (EIL), withheld “crucial information” on the safety of the AP-1000 reactors that would come up at Mithivirdi, N. Nagaich, Executive Director (Corporate Planning and Corporate Communications), Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) said four AP-1000 reactors were under construction in China. The construction of each of these reactors would be completed every year, beginning 2014. Similar AP-1000 reactors would be built at Mithivirdi. In the U.S., the construction of two AP-1000 reactors had been initiated. “The safety of these reactors has been cleared by China’s atomic regulatory authority. The NPCIL has also looked into the safety of these reactors, which has already been established,” Mr. Nagaich asserted.
On the allegation that rock samples had not been obtained 100 metres below the Mithivirdi site where the reactors would be built to see whether a stable rock formation was available, Mr. Nagaich said the “engineerability” of the site was evaluated at the time of selecting the Mithivirdi site itself. India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had verified the site evaluation report.
Mr. Nagaich explained: “It was ensured that the site met the criteria as laid down by the AEER Code called ‘Safety of the Siting of the Nuclear Power Projects.’ Then a detailed study, lasting several months, was done on the suitability of the site [to build reactors]. Seismo-tectonic studies, evaluating/ensuring that faults are at least 5 km away from the site, geo-technical examination of the site’s engineerability, protection from floods and tsunami, everything was done.”
Studies were done on the basis of the site evaluation report and they were all submitted to the AERB. Reputed national agencies in these fields reviewed them along with the AERB committees. “Only after all this was done, clearance was given to the Mithivirdi site and for a nuclear power plant to be set up there,” the NPCIL executive director said.
He added that the public hearing conducted on March 5 on the Mithivirdi site was “a platform” provided to the people to answer all their queries. “We will welcome all queries even after the public hearing has been done. The NPCIL is transparent. We will respond to all queries on the project,” Mr. Nagaich said.
On the allegation that the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET) had not accredited the EIL to prepare the EIA report on Mithi Virdi, another informed official said the NABET had, in fact, given a letter to the EIL to prepare the EIA report.