Vouching for the safety of power units in the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, its top officials on Thursday said they were designed to withstand any natural disaster, including earthquakes and Tsunamis.

“The power units in Kudankulam are designed to withstand an earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale… In case of a Tsunami threat, we have designed the plant after analysing data for over 100 years,” Kudankulam site Director M. Kasinath Balaji told reporters here.

The plant can withstand even ‘man-made disasters’, he said pointing out that even before 9/11 (terror attack) in the U.S., such a possibility was envisaged for the Kudankulam project in 1997 and necessary steps were incorporated.

Station Manager R.S. Sundar said that there was “nothing abnormal” going on in the Indo-Russian venture and there was “no question of danger to the public.”

Acknowledging the initial communication gap between the scientists and locals there, Mr. Balaji said, “We learnt a lesson in a bitter way” and hoped the “impasse” will be cleared soon.

Mr. Balaji said ongoing protests by locals demanding scrapping of the project was “badly affecting” work at Unit 1, which was earlier scheduled to commence operation by December.

A seven-member committee under the chairmanship of R.S. Sundar will make short films on safety measures taken in the plant and carry the message to public in that area, he said.

Asked why countries like Germany have now taken an anti-nuclear stand, Mr. Sundar said that country plans to stop its nuclear plants only by 2022, while there are 433 reactors in operation in the world.

He also said 65 reactors were being constructed across the world, with 27 of them being constructed in China.

“If we take an anti-nuclear stand, it will adversely affect the country’s development,” Mr. Sundar said.

The Indo-Russian joint venture in Thirunelveli district has run into rough weather following protests from locals demanding scrapping of the project, citing safety concerns.

The assurances by scientists, State government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding safety aspects have not succeeded in mollifying the protesters to call off their stir, which has caused a stand off, upsetting the scheduled commissioning of the first unit.

Expert Committee

Meanwhile, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, which is spearheading the anti—nuclear stir at Koodankulam, on Thursday announced formation of a 21—member expert committee to advice them on the future course of action, educate the public and “interact with state and central government officials as also the Centre’s expert group“.

PMANE convenor S.P. Udayakumar said the panel will comprise noted scientists, engineers, doctors, advocates, environmentalists and specialists and would probe different aspects of the KKNPP project like land acquisition, location of Reactors 1 and 2, environmental impact, coastal regulation zone violations, etc.

“PMANE requests KKNPP authorities to share the EIA, site evaluation study, safety analysis report and other relevant documents to help us initiate dialogue with the Centre’s 15— member expert group and to prepare our responses,” he said.

Committee members include senior journalist Praful Bidwai, former chairman of Haryana State Electricity Board M G Devasahayam, former head of Indira Gandhi Environment Centre Soumya Dutta, nuclear expert Surendra Gadekar and former Principal Scientist in Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research R S Lal Mohan.

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