The disaster at the nuclear reactor in Fukushima, Japan, in the aftermath of a tsumani earlier this year cannot be made the yardstick to oppose the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, according to S.C.Chetal, Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam.

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a national seminar on medical thermography at SRM University in suburban Kattankulathur, he said India had an excellent record of safety in its nuclear installations.

“All nuclear power plants in India are designed with tight safety features that can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis and other natural calamities like cyclones,” Mr. Chetal said. Noting that the nuclear site at Fukushima in Japan could not be compared to the one at Kudankulam or Kalpakkam, the senior scientist said nature's conditions were different across the world.

The nuclear reactor at Kalpakkam had demonstrated its safety during the tsumani of December 2004. “During the tsunami, there was no damage to any of the installations at Kalpakkam and the reactor was completely safe, considering the height of the waves was 4.7 metres,” Mr. Chetal said.

Observing that the Japanese nuclear tragedy in the aftermath of the tsunami was not nuclear-related, the scientist said the safety of the Kudankulam reactor could not be questioned as Russians had a very good track record in safety. “We learn from failures,” he remarked.

All the nuclear reactors were designed with high levels of safety, he said, recalling that during the earthquake at Bhuj, Gujarat, which had caused enormous damage, the nuclear power stations were safe. India had a strong safety regulatory system. The Kudankulam reactor was a Pressurised Water Reactor and 80 per cent of the world's 430 reactors used this technology.

He was reacting to questions from reporters about the widespread protests by various sections, including political parties, which sought that work on the Kudankulam plant should be stopped and also to the extent of shutting down the reactor at Kalpakkam.

Mr. Chetal added that the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor would be commissioned next year. Work on building the Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility, which would be re-processing the spent fuel at PFBR would start this year.

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