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Updated: November 19, 2011 17:18 IST

Kudankulam reactors safest: Central panel

Staff Reporter
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V. Shantha. File Photo
V. Shantha. File Photo

Any more fears not based on scientific principles, says member

The reactors of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project having state-of-the-art safety features are the safest, the Central panel of experts has certified. Explaining the features of the KKNPP's 1,000 MWe VVER reactors, the panel's convener A. E. Muthunayagam, an oceanography expert, said that safety measures such as passive heat removal system, double containment, core catcher, and hydrogen re-combiner installed in the reactors instead of conventional methods made the pressurised water reactors the safest and hence there was no need for any fear. “If there is any fear even after this, it is not based on scientific principles.”

Dr. Muthunayagam initially said that the answers sought for a few more questions submitted to the panel during the second round of talks would be provided soon.

However, after going through the questions, he said: “They (protestors) have actually demanded the copies of some documents and not raised questions relating to safety of the reactors. Hence we've to suspect the very nature of these questions. The panel can only give answers to their specific questions and will not be able to provide documents…”

Allaying apprehensions about possible radiation from the reactors and consequent possibilities of incidence of cancer around KKNPP site, panel member and Chairperson, Cancer Institute, Adyar, Chennai, V. Shanta, said the comprehensive follow-up studies conducted around the nuclear reactors at Kalpakkam had shown no increase in the incidence of cancer. The low dose radiation in this region, which was much lower than radiation levels in some parts of Kerala (Chavara and Karunagapalli), did not harm residents.

“Since the extraordinary safety measures incorporated in the nuclear reactors have made it safe, the fear of radiation is totally unfounded,” Dr. Shantha, a renowned oncologist, said.

Panel member N. Sukumaran, Director, School of Life Sciences, VELS University, Chennai, said that the coolant water, which would be released back into the sea after cooling the reactor, would be at a slightly elevated temperature. The maximum of 7 degree Celsius temperature difference between the used coolant water and seawater would facilitate fish breeding.

S.K. Sharma, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, made it clear there was no chance of a Fukushima-type mishap at KKNPP owing the passive heat removal system and the four standby generators to supply power to the reactor in case of interruption in supply to the reactors. M.R. Iyer, retired director, Division of Radiation Safety, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, said that the excellent effluent treatment facility at KKNPP would minimise radiation 4 per cent below the ‘permissible level'.

Asked whether the three-day inspection was enough to study all safety features of KKNPP, K. Balu, retired Director, Nuclear Waste Management Group, BARC, said, “We're experts drawn from various fields associated to this issue and hence there is no need for spending more time.” Panel member Suresh Moses Lee, Raja Ramanna Fellow, Safety Research Institute, Kalpakkam, said nuclear power alone could give quality power in right quantity at affordable price.

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