The former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on Sunday visited the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) and asserted that there was no need for any panic as it had state-of-the-art safety features.

At the same time, Mr. Kalam made it clear that he had not come as an emissary of the Union government and would not be a mediator between the nuclear establishment and protesters opposing the plant.

“I am completely satisfied and happy with the sophisticated safety features of the reactors and hence there is no need for panic since it's only a boon to the future generation,” he told journalists here after inspecting the reactors for over an hour.

Mr. Kalam said the visit was out of his own interest. He sought to dispel the impression that the Centre had sent him to neutralise the ongoing protest. He met a group of KKNPP supporters in the afternoon, and said he was prepared to meet the protesters' representatives also.

“However, I won't be a mediator since I am not the Centre's emissary. I'm a scientist, I'm a technologist. I support nuclear energy along with solar and wind power as it is a clean and green energy which is very much required for the country's rapid growth now… ” The two 1,000-MWe VVER reactors are being constructed at Kudankulam with Russian assistance at an outlay of Rs. 13,171 crore.

The former President said structural and the mechanical safety systems made the reactors the safest in the nuclear industry across the globe.

The reactors, placed at a secure height of over 13.50 metres, would not be affected even by a tsunami. Nor would an earthquake threaten them, as Kudankulam was not within any seismic zone. “The scientists have taken into account all these natural calamities before designing and fabricating it,” he noted.

While 99 per cent of the spent fuel would be processed for reuse in the reactors, the remaining one per cent would be converted and protected within a thickly walled underground concrete containment. “No waste from the reactor will be dumped in the sea,” Mr. Kalam said.

Nuclear Power Corporation Chairman and Managing Director S.K. Jain and KKNPP Site Director M. Kasinath Balaji were present during Mr. Kalam's press conference.

Protesters disappointed

However, those opposing the project expressed disappointment and anguish over his unequivocal support for the nuclear plant. The post-Fukushima scenario had opened up a global debate on the credibility of reactors. Even as many countries were taking steps to scrap their nuclear programmes, it was sad that a renowned scientist like Mr. Kalam was backing the project, they said.

“We expected that Mr. Kalam will visit those protesting against the plant and those on fast. However, after interacting with a team of KKNPP supporters, he left Kudankulam without coming to our place [the protest venue at Idinthakarai],” said S.P. Udhayakumar, coordinator of the struggle committee.

On Mr. Kalam's assertion that the safety features incorporated in the reactors were satisfactory, Dr. Udhayakumar said Belgium had decided to close down seven reactors after realising the risks involved in nuclear programmes.

The KKNPP “will certainly wipe out several southern districts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala in case of any mishap,” he claimed.

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