Opinion » Lead

Updated: March 9, 2012 02:07 IST

How Fukushima is relevant to Kudankulam

    T. N. Srinivasan
    T. S. Gopi Rethinaraj
    Surya Sethi
Comment (81)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

The disaster in Japan revealed many risks that were earlier unknown; it is important to assess the risks in India in a transparent manner and explain which are worth taking.

The nuclear plant accident at Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011 exemplifies the prescient remark of nuclear reactor pioneer, the late Alvin Weinberg, that “a nuclear accident somewhere is a nuclear accident everywhere.” After Fukushima, many countries initiated a reconsideration of the role of nuclear power in their current and future energy portfolios and checks of their safety features at operating plants. Public demonstrations for halting ongoing construction of new plants and eliminating nuclear power altogether from energy portfolios also followed. Social demonstrations against the construction of any new nuclear power projects in India and a bringing on stream of the nearly complete Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu are parts of this phenomenon.

The Central government's attempts to assure the public of the safety of the Kudankulam plant failed and the demonstrations continued, leading the Tamil Nadu government to appoint an expert panel of four to assess afresh the safety of the plant. The committee submitted its report on February 27, 2012 which is as yet not released. A member of the panel, former Chairman M.R. Srinivasan of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), is quoted as saying that the Committee was fully satisfied that the plant was safe.

It remains to be seen whether the report is convincing and credible in coming to its conclusion, thus addressing public concerns about Kudankulam and also possibly blunting the threat to India's future nuclear power programme from escalating demonstrations. Concerns of risks of nuclear power, both from possible design faults in plants, their inappropriate location and from natural events such as earthquakes and tsunami have risen since Fukushima. The committee has to address these concerns effectively in a transparent manner in its report for it to serve its purpose of looking at the issues afresh regardless of the prior public positions of any of its members on them. While awaiting the report, we highlight what the Fukushima accident revealed on the previously unknown or underestimated risks and costs of nuclear power for the reason of their possible relevance for evaluating the risks and benefits of the expansion of nuclear power in India and the operation of Kudankulam.

Issues from Fukushima

The following is common knowledge about the Fukushima accident and its aftermath. First, it was triggered by a very rare natural event — the occurrence together of an earthquake of magnitude 9 on the Richter scale and a 15-metre tsunami which completely overwhelmed the plant and its safety systems. This raises the issue whether the probability of the event could or should have been anticipated or was ignored as unlikely by the Japanese regulatory authorities when the plant was designed, built and located at Fukushima.

Second, the analysts exposed the close ties between public regulators and the private plant operators that could have led them to collude and neglect safety and other features that could have been built into the design of the plant and affected responses to the accident and the timing and transparency of information released.

Third, although the physical structure of the Fukushima plant withstood the earthquake, together with the tsunami, the earthquake led to the loss of offsite and onsite power leaving the plant completely dependent on diesel generators and batteries of emergency cooling system for reactors. But adequate emergency power was not available at Fukushima. The consequential build-up of temperature resulted in production of steam and hydrogen that exploded rupturing the containment structure within a matter of hours and eventually led to a partial core meltdown.

Fourth, radiation leaks from the disabled plant spread far beyond what had been deemed likely, affected rice crops, milk and other products for domestic consumption and exports. The leaks and damages beyond the plant emphasised that containment structures have only a limited time-bound ability to mitigate the consequences of releases of radioactivity into the containment by overheated reactors coolant accidents until emergency cooling systems prevent further heating and a core meltdown. At Fukushima, emergency cooling systems failed and led to a partial core meltdown. Just a few hundred metric tonnes of steam could pose a serious threat to the containment's structural integrity of Kudankulam with its VVER-type reactor. It is therefore essential that cooling systems operate reliably and effectively.

A complete analysis of the Fukushima accident is not available yet. From what is available, it is known that radiation leaks affected crops and population and resulted in loss of output from disruptions in power supply. Kudankulam is located in the rice and milk producing, heavily populated and fast growing southern state of Tamil Nadu near Sri Lanka. The deleterious consequences of the Fukushima accident and the risks of their happening at Kudankulam are real. Obviously potential risks and their costs have to be weighed against potential benefits from the plant in a scientific, social cost/benefit analysis in evaluating whether or not to bring Kudankulam on stream and institutionalising such analyses in the nuclear decision-making process.

Fifth, emerging information on actions not taken but considered at Fukushima is disturbing: “in the darkest moments of the nuclear accident last year, Japanese leaders did not know the actual extent of the damage at the plant and secretly considered the possibility of evacuating Tokyo [350 km away from Fukushima], even as they played down the risks, an independent investigation into a report has disclosed”. (International Herald Tribune, February 29, 2012)

The panel's report should include estimates of the probabilities of earthquakes of magnitude greater than 6 and of tsunamis originating outside India that could threaten the Indian coast. Social cost/benefit analysis of alternative responses to very low probability events, which, were they to occur could inflict large social costs in terms of population loss, damages to structures and long term health consequences is a difficult analytical problem. However, to assure that the Kudankulam plant is “reasonably safe,” the panel should attempt the difficult social cost/benefit analysis and make public its methodology and assumptions. The uncertainties in the data used and in estimation errors induce an “error band” around the average social cost/benefits and these should be made explicit.

Superimposition of estimated probabilities of possible reactor accidents with site specific probabilities of earthquakes and tsunamis highlighted by Fukushima would enable the estimation of probabilities of a Fukushima-like event at Kudankulam.

Regulatory independence

The Fukushima accident highlighted the need for the independence of regulators from plant operators. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has long been criticised for being subservient to DAE, the promoting organisation for nuclear power. After Fukushima, the establishment of a truly independent regulator has been promised. Currently, institutional deficiencies are structurally inbuilt and hard to eliminate. If they remain, the credibility and autonomy of the regulator cannot be ensured. Historically, nuclear policymaking in India was not transparent and involved only a handful of people in the government. The DAE has exploited this arrangement. Unfortunately, the political leadership left the operational aspects of nuclear affairs entirely to DAE without creating any institutional mechanism for independent technical and policy advice on civilian as well as military aspects.

A glaring example of DAE's misuse of the Atomic Energy Act to escape the scrutiny of regulator and courts over public safety concerns came in the wake of the still unpublished 1996 AERB report. The report is believed to have exposed how DAE had turned regulation into a farce because of the cosy arrangement between the regulators and the regulated. In India, all Indian nuclear plants are in the public sector and so are the agencies that exercise regulatory functions and promotional responsibilities. In this situation, conflict of interest between regulation and promotion is inevitable. Their separation and the creation of a statutory body for regulation are essential to win public confidence.

Energy portfolio

Significant shortfalls of India's energy generation relative to estimated energy demand have been longstanding. Many policy failures contributed to the shortfalls and their consequences. Amongst them, the failure to implement the Electricity Reform Act of 2003 ranks high. Legitimate concerns about global warming and energy security have driven the proposed expansion of nuclear power. As a poor country with a growing population with a need for rapid and sustained economic growth to eradicate poverty, India faces the daunting task of increasing its energy supply by a factor of two to three over the next two decades even after factoring in feasible conservation and efficiency improvements. Every possible source of energy (fossil, renewable, and nuclear) has to be considered without any a priori opposition to the use of any source in any credible social cost/benefit analysis of alternative energy portfolios in meeting development goals without pushing their risks beyond socially tolerable levels.

Understandable public concerns post-Fukushima pose enormous challenges for the planned expansion of nuclear electricity generation in India. Neither technological hubris nor shrill anti-nuclear rhetoric is useful in this context. For this reason the panel has to examine critically what Fukushima revealed that was not known before in terms of risks and social costs of a potential accident over a long term and offer its informed assessment of the extent Kudankulam and other future plants are subject to known and potentially new risks. Its assessment and judgment need to be transparent and explain which risks it considers worth taking and why.

We urge that due consideration be given also to issues that human frailties, potential natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis and acts of sabotage pose to the potential failure of well designed but complex engineering systems like a nuclear reactor. No humanly designed system can ensure that it will never fail — thus an option with zero risk does not exist. For this reason, a credible and convincing social cost benefit analysis of risks and benefits of current and available future energy options is essential.

(T.N. Srinivasan, T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj and Surya P. Sethi are on the faculty of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.)

More In: Lead | Opinion

Have a clear cut say. Please don't confuse the illiterate, downtrodden mass by giving scientific and technological jargons.. Have you gone through Samuel Glasston's SOURCE BOOK ON ATOMIC ENERGY, and the statement of Alexander Achipov, the Nuclear Technocrat and Engineer of Chernobil Nuclear Power Plant? Please tell me your qualifications first. Simply by referring to various websites and books You can't declare. Taking for grant that the KKNPP is all the time safest, How long it will give energy at what cost? How you are going to manage the nuclear waste? Whether you are going to dump in the ocean or in the subsoil or to send it to other planets or directly to the sun. Why other countries like France have closed down the Nuclear Power plants one by one? Why Australia, which is going to sell the nuclear substances to other countries and not starting such type of Power Plants? Even in India Kerala and West Bengal have refused to give locations in their States to start this

from:  Elavalagan
Posted on: Mar 11, 2012 at 17:53 IST

Ed Hayden's comment makes sense to me after going through the very real impulses on both sides of the issue. A referendum to be voted by the people living in the 50 or 100 mile radius, after explaining all the facts and their relevance to the local population, based on science but in a language easily understood, should be held. This requires time and investment but will be well worth to prove or disprove if India has the absolute discipline and vigilance to operate an expanded program of nuclear power management, to the same exacting standards as say France has achieved. Experts and opinion makers owe it to the people in a democracy, at the least.

Posted on: Mar 10, 2012 at 01:14 IST

I would put a favourable support in this regard, if a calculative risk is been estimated.1.T.N is not as vulnerable as Japan for all these natural disasters.2 .we must welcome any new coming in terms of enery productions.As we are facing problem of insufficiency in resource, nuclear energy is an alternative, sustinable source. 3.If we fear to take steps forward, it can also lame our soveriegnity to some extent. But, having all these +ve points handy.We must ensure public safety as our priority.If its done with a calculative risks, I thinks we can bravely proceed ensuring people with a sense of security that they are free from pollution and other havoc effects not to be met by them.Make a pre-planning on measures. 2.diaster management. 3.disopsal of waste/ sanitary management. 4.pollution free. friendly..etc. Also to be assured apart for employment, susitainable energy source, availability of energy to make both ends meet,saving consumption of energy by big sectors

from:  Iswarya CN
Posted on: Mar 10, 2012 at 00:28 IST

If Lakhs of crores can be lost for a nation by just a policy of donation to greedy (FCFS on 2G allocation), why not afford mere few crores by stopping a danger when it's felt. If we ever can imagine the life of a poor selling kidney for livelyhood in this land, can we expect the prosperity reaching everyone in this nation by the nuclear power. It's worrisome that people are short-sited with their immediate need forgetting we are ought to leave this earth as clean as we got it for the next generation. Nuclear power is present-clean and future-hazard.

from:  Chitra Devi
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 23:55 IST

Two things should immediately be done by the Govt. of India which has been brought out in this article. One, release the unpublished 1996 AERB report to public and Second, take out AERB out of DAE to instil confidence in the public in the Government.

from:  vc sekar
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 22:31 IST

We have the habit of over reacting to anything suggested by any one
tolerance is nil to others' opinions.In this High Pressure Emotional ambience most important issues get drowned.Has any one seriously analysed what the Nuclear Safety Bill passed by the Parliament at the behest of the P.M.Let History be Judge of the methods employed.
1.The Operator responsibility squarely put the onus of meeting damages caused in the life of the plan on the OPERATOR ie.The Govt of India ie.the Tax Payer-over and above any after effect of a radiation problem. 2.The Cost involved for producing the Power generated.Will it be affordable to our farmers and overtaxed ordinary people and what will be its effect on Inflation. 3.Can we not Utilise the huge money spent on the White Elephants which almost all Countries in Europe are planning to phase out in a short time - FOR ALTERNATIVE POWER which cause no Pollution or unimaginablehavoc on the living and the future generations

from:  ajth kumar
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 21:07 IST

Geniuses remove complexity when "practical people" try to live with
complexity. The complexity is "Need for artificial energy". But we
dont need energy. We can live a natural life respecting the limits
given by our nature and keeping the nature absolutely beatiful. Gandhi
has said "Nature gives enough to satisfy everyone's need but not
everyone's greed. You cannot solve an unsolvable problem of "Need for
energy". A rich man is perhaps one who has few needs. Do Hindu readers
appreciate books like "Black Swan" and "Small is beautiful"? I
question the wisdom of the pragmatists and optimists who think we do
need energy and that all will be well or we can't change our way of
living with minimal or zero energy needs.

from:  S Swaminathan
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 18:12 IST

Let the nuclear station come to a location near your home, then you
will feel the pressure. Its easy to do a benefit vs risk analysis
sitting elsewhere. A air-plane crash normally kills only about 500
people, its tragic, however, accidents happen. And, YOU decide if you
want to fly or not. But, for the villagers living near the power
plant, they have to see a nuclear bomb, that can explode any day,
every day of their life.

I have an advanced degree in engineering, but, I can feel what those
guys feel.

from:  Githin Alapatt
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 17:37 IST

Geniuses remove complexity when "pragmatic people" try to live with
complexity. The complexity is "Need for artificial energy". But we don't
need energy. We can live a natural life respecting the limits given by
our nature and keeping the nature absolutely beautiful. Gandhi has said
"Nature gives enough to satisfy everyone's need but not everyone's
greed. You cannot solve an unsolvable problem of "Need for energy". A
rich man is perhaps one who has few needs. Do Hindu readers appreciate
books like "Black Swan" and "Small is beautiful"? I question the wisdom
of the pragmatists and optimists who think that we do need energy and
that all will be well, or that we can't change our way of living with
minimal or zero energy needs.

from:  S Swaminathan
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 17:29 IST

Cost/Benefit analyses that have already been made wrt KKNPP, or any
other NPP: have they taken into account the cost of consequential
damages? who is going to bear the consequential damages? Now, don't
say that the "not liable for consequential damages" rule applies to Nuclear Power Plants - particularly since the consequential damages are capable to damage future generations - look at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, etc. After taking into account reasonable consequential damages, please analyse and publish whether NPPs are really viable. If some one does that, I thank him/her in advance.

Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 13:37 IST

I am very surprised at this article. The authors write in a profound
manner on the safety aspects of the Kudankulam plant comparing the
risks in Japan, which is a naturally Tsunami prone country. Why? Also,
someone of the stature of the PM Manmohan Singh has assured himself
that the plant is safe. Why keep questioning him? The country needs
power desperately, and the plant is ready to start generation, and now
these learned men are talking of all kinds of issues, some of which
are not even accurate! Think of the enormous amounts invested. Is it
possible to throw away all that money and look for power from
elsewhere? India needs a complete energy mix, and this plant should be
allowed to start generation, albeit with heightened caution and safe
protocols to operate it.

from:  Krishna Kumar
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 13:36 IST

Geniuses try to remove the complexity when others try to live with
complexity. The complexity is "Need for Energy". Just relax and think if
we need a lot of energy. We don't. We need to change our new ways of
living. Live a natural life. Read the book "Small is beautiful" by

from:  Swami
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 12:26 IST

It is true that Zero risk does not exist. But a big question comes out about the aftermath, if any accident or natural disaster happened. Who will be responsible for that? Bhopal Gas Tragedy is a very good example of negligent system in India. We all know about the benefits of nuclear energy, no doubt about it's efficiency but have doubt about the credibility of the system for the responsibility and action taken against the causes.

from:  Rahul Bhardwaj
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 12:06 IST

I request these authors to leave their AC offices in Singapore and live in Tamil Nadu for a month. They won't dare to write such article then. Nuclear power projects are only solutions to power crunch states like Tamil Nadu.

from:  Sivakumar
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 11:47 IST

Risk is everywhere, even when you walk on a side of the road. No
doubt that 'Fukushima' is an eye opener, which should ensure an
enhanced safety of the plant. Considering the current and future
growth of India, we need to go ahead with 'Kudankulam'.

from:  Narasimman Gurusamy
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 11:18 IST

The article reminds me of the popular children's story of "The Sky is
falling". The authors have raised the bogeyman of nuclear disaster and
recommended safety evaluations that has to consider all sorts of
extreme unlikely scenarios before deciding the future of the nuclear
reactor. What they have succeeded in is to raise the fear and
epitomize the phenomenon of mass public hysteria. This is not the way
to govern or to make decisions.
How many nuclear reactors have failed affecting human lives?. Do we
stop trains because of accidents?. Planes because of crashes?.
Manufacturing fireworks?.
Why Nuclear power?.
Why not the same emotion against dams?.
There is some hidden aim in this fight..
Why all this demonstrations in India?. Most countries in the world are
building nuclear reactors?. Why there is opposition only in India.

from:  Sankar
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 10:19 IST

A nuclear plant may address some of "our needs" for science, technology, commerce and brand us a "forward" civilization. However, an uncontrolable option like a nuclear plant in our back yard could be a permanent "gift" to our kids AND THEIR DECENDANTS in the form of genetic disease, contiminated food and water, living in homes with windows never open clotes never being dried in the atmosphere, ... sounds disgusting.

from:  NAVAZ
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 09:59 IST

The article is very informative. The PM, HM and others must read it.
'It is beginning of the downfall of UPA government at the centre. The
government is directionless and leaderless. Every minister is talking
in his own voice. The government tries to suppress any protest by the
government. Then where is the democracy?. It is the government
responsibility to explain the people about the safety measures. Ask
those idiots from the central governments to visit Fukushima, Japan
and stay there for a week, then PM, Narayanasamy and Chidambaram and
all those idiots who criticise the Nuclear agitation, will understand
the pain of the People. Do they know, out of 44 nuclear plants in
Japan, 42 plants are halted after March 11 Tsunami, and people still
are protesting against operating the plant. There is no human values
in India. Ministers are arrogant in their comments and try to suppress
the agitation.

from:  Jothi
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 07:13 IST

I sat in an office that was hundred yards away from a Boiling Water Reactor same as the ones that were in Japan. I did that for over twenty five years. I knew what I was doing because I knew the nuts and bolts of the safety features of that reactor. I was more concerned about driving to job which was fifty miles away rather than working on the job. I hope this will provide some type of assurance to the ones who are splitting the hair.

from:  Tanvir Salim
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 06:47 IST

Is the new plant being proposed a generation 3 design like the General Electric AP1000 ? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the US has approved the design because of its simple passive defenses. It has means to de-pressurize and cool the rods even if auxiliary power is totally out. New designs have a gravity fed water source that flows down on top of the fuel if the primary pumps go out. Nuclear power is cheaper per watt than coal, has low CO2 or particulate matter unlike oil or coal fired plants, it uses 1/10th the concrete and steel of wind turbines for the same generating capacity, and the price of fuel oil and coal are highly variable. Uranium rod costs are controlled by the State not speculators. But... but... screw it up and the cost of a cleanup is astronomical. Operating a plant requires absolute discipline and vigilence. Are the Indian people confident the requisite disciplne is present for an expanded nuclear power program? I do not know that answer.

from:  Ed Hayden
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 04:03 IST

Our nation is in dire straits when it comes to power infrastructure. Reading this article and voluminous responses and looking at the state of affairs in our state in particular, no electricity whatsoever, even the kids don’t have that light for their evening studies, we definitely need to go ahead with this Kudankulam plant and ALSO take care of all the necessary precautions, including the tsunami-wall that is approved to world-standards. Keeping in mind the kind of sub-standard public buildings and sub-standard bridges that our government-sponsored-contractors have built, only to prove its disasters, we should even go steps further to get the subject-matter-experts to certify the plant to its core strengths and the materials that is or was used here! This is not an experimental project, to come back and fix it later; this is one that needs every attention and the latest and the greatest available safety at the present times made avail to this plant in our backyard!

from:  Raj S Ram Dublin CA
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 02:07 IST

"LEARN FROM MISTAKES". Even tough there is a lot of criticism about the safety of a nuclear power plant,we should be aware of that this is a PWR reactor Not PHWR.The Fukushima Neuclear power plant comes under the later. So the risk factor was high especially the cooling system which failed to work and from the lack of additional safety measures taken, this disaster occur, still very difficult to scale its depth.

Our Engineers should learn from this alot and they have the obligation to do the service with Integrity.

from:  PRANAB
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 00:37 IST

The article is very informative. The nuclear plants in India are of
high quality in terms of design and technology. Major concern of
activists remain unresolved which is ensuring the proper safety and
security measures at the plant premises. Only assurances are not
enough to allay the fears of damage and destruction arisen due to seen
scenario of Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. The cost benefit
analysis should have people's apprehensions in the center as they are
the determinants of cost and benefit. ultimately it is people who have
to face the thundering effect of nuclear power.

from:  Dinesh Chand Meena
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 00:15 IST

none of the Pro-nuclear activists, writers, scientists, fans, would be available to comment on a 'possible disaster'. Our constitution guarantees the right to live without fear. It is quite natural for someone who is not so "knowledgeable" like me to demand for an explanation. the explanation should not be a statement from "Scientists" ör "Politicians"or ä combination of above. It should be from the government on various possible risks as listed by several people here and elsewhere. For every possible risk there should be an assessment of likelihood of occurrence, Severity, control plan and a substantiation based on facts & figures not by assumptions. The risk occurred everywhere to be taken into account and we need to know what is the plan to counter that? Even if there is a possible risk which is not addressed by this kind of risk assessment, then the plant is unfit for use. "Caesar's wife should be far suspicion" rules applies to projects also!

from:  Boopathy
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 23:37 IST

Japan is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire - highly prone to earth quakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. The recent earthquake was biggest in Japan's history. After the Tsunami, there were critical human mistakes made that resulted in the Fukushima disaster. A point to be noted is there is a human element in Fukushima disaster. Japan has not shut any of its existing nuclear reactors after Fukushima and it continues to operate the biggest nuclear reactor in the world.

India is not located in the Pacific ring of fire. Tsunamis rarely reach India. Kudankulam is shielded by Sri Lanka in case of a Indian Ocean tsunami from Indonesia. A rare Tsunami coming from west will affect Diego Garcia before reaching Kerala coast. Kudankulam is thus safe from any strong tsunami plus the safety features of the plant and the human element is unlikely to be repeated. So, Kudankulam must start operations.

The authors must note that no cost benefit analysis of any nuclear plant in the world has ever been done

from:  shyam
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 23:33 IST

A rapidly developing country like India must have to find out the alternative ways to cope with the challenge of ever growing demand of energy. Nuclear energy can be a substitute for other conventional sources of energy but the inherent danger of radiation leak in the wake of natural disaster make us think twice before switching over to it. The safety concern raised by the people of Tamil Nadu over kudankulam project have great relevance in the era of post Fukushima. The location of plant in the highly populated and highly cultivated zone of Tamil Nadu is a matter of great concern. A rigorous social scientific cost benefit analysis must be done before proceeding to the operationalisation of the plant. Besides this government should give serious concern to the apprehensions raised by the people and address them in more scientific and transparent manner.

from:  Remant Jha
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 23:22 IST

The article is very informative.

Important thing is Government should take responsibility for safety measurement without any
compromise. Our scientists will work for our people and our country without any political

from:  Adhi
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 23:16 IST

It is a pity that neither the learned authors nor the commentators have touched upon the most crucial issue -- neither the Russian suppliers of the plant nor the Russian government have accepted the onerous liability clauses that are being enforced on nuclear reactor suppliers from other countries. It is a cruel joke that the protestors are agitating for all the wrong reasons. And after causing numerous hurdles in GOI's choosing the nuclear option, the Left parties are curiously very quiet -- is it because it is a Russian plant?

from:  Jay Ravi
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 22:56 IST

I really wonder why these many people support Nuclear Plans though they internally know that this is not 100% safe. I apologize The Hindu and its readers for using an example to compare. Its as simple as getting infected with AIDS. Once infected, that is the end. No recovery. Only possible option for those patients is to take more care, to avoid any disease. Whereas in case of Nuclear Reactors, you do not have even this opportunity.
Essence is simple truth. No recovery, the disaster is Irreversible. I will definitely say NO to kill the future of my kids for the sake of my today's comfort or food. Life of next generation is definitely more important than my today's luxury. If I have little chances today for producing more electricity, I should find alternate ways instead of buying in-expensive but most dangerous alternates.

from:  Lakshmanan B
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 21:30 IST

It is fully understood by everybody that public SAFETY is the most
important concern in the Jaitapur and Koodankulam projects. No
doubt about that. But I strongly oppose those who justify 'non
existent disasters in future as a result of nuclear energy' with
the help of mistakes in the past. Peoples' welfare is much
dependent on their state of mind. That is a different thing
altogether. But ENERGY is the physical need of the people. And in
answering that need, must not limit ourselves to conventionality
always. This huge leap can epitomise the energy sector in India,
and it may well raise the living standards of some of the 65 crore
poorest Indians.
I sincerely wish for the greater good that you people do not
project and extrapolate the repercussions of Fukushima onto Indian
nuclear projects.Nuclear history of India,its scientists,its
agreements with numerous countries for fuel and plant management
all are HIGH ACHIEVEMENTS of India,and they should be banked upon,
rather than attacked.

from:  Abhishek Waghmare
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 21:10 IST

Why is the author enlisting all the negativities and still trying to appear overtly neutral? The authors have given a critical analysis of Nuclear power in India, but they seem to be intensely prejudiced. The worst events the world has witnessed barring the world wars, the holocaust, and innumerable such genocides are the natural calamities that intermittently attacked our planet. There have been famines, floods, quakes, tsunamis. But the authors ( and the Left ) are capitalising these emotionally sensitive events into a reasonable opposition to nuclear plants in India. India has put 20 SAFE nuclear reactors into operation and this is not just a thing to say with a flat face, this is a tremendous achievement. The credit goes to the regulators, the DAE, the Central Govt, and >most importantly the scientists and engineers who ensure ROI, efficiency and safety. The realisation of Jaitapur is a HUGE challenge and an opportunity to apply our minds to cater to energy needs of PEOPLE.

from:  Abhishek Waghmare
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 20:54 IST

As a retired Nuclear Engineer and worked on Pressurized Water
Reactor (PWR) nuclear plant similar to the Kudankulam plant, I have
the following comments. A new PWR plant like Kudankulam is safe and
economical provided that the plant and associated structures like
the “Tsunami wall” is built to proper standards. What is getting
lost in this noise is the need to shutdown the old reactors at
Tarapur. The Tarapur Units 1 and 2 Boiling Water Reactors were
designed in the sixties and is located in a highly populated area.
The age of reactor, the type of reactor, and location of reactor
demands prompt shutdown of Tarapur Units 1 and 2.

from:  George John
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 20:23 IST

Safety of Nuclear Power Plant is yet an unknown commodity that cannot
be fully comprehended. With the available knowledge and experience
certain aspects of the possible failures can be addressed. But every
time there is a new failure more aspects show up and therefore one
cannot claim infallible protection or solutions in the event of a
catastrophe. One can argue, aren't we facing natural disasters and
accept the toll of life and property like in an earth quake or a
Tsunami or a hurricane. An unknown disaster cannot be rued, but, in
the case of NPP we are aware of the consequences; i.e. the hazards of
disposal of spent fuel, leaks, constant threat of systems and human
failures etc., looming large ready to strike. After its useful life
say 40 years, decommissioning is even more hazardous taking some 100
years to safely contain radiation. Add the role of natural disasters.
Conscious compromise of threat to safety of life/ environment
punctuates the acceptance of a NPP for immediate gains

from:  M.R.Sampath
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 20:05 IST

All these comments are good for posting, but think practically. Power
is the key source for everything, without which we cant imagine
growth. What is the future of non renewable energy resources in india.
In daily increasing power demand, Nuclear power is the suitable
solution. of course safety measures should be a criteria, but we cant
take example for disasters occuring in world. As told in the article
Man made cannot be 100% safe. Disaster is also not 100% predictable.
What would the case if Fukushima disaster not happened. Everyone would
welcomed the nuclear power globally.. If we want to learn lesson from
disaster learn from everything...

from:  saravanan
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 19:51 IST

World's economically forward countries have Nuclear Power plants for their growth. If you need growth we need enough electricity power, which can be obtained with atomic energy in abundance. Those who do not want progress of Indian Nation,enlarge the dangers in atomic energy. Every allopathic medicines has some side effects but doctors weighs the benefit and prescribes the medicines for the welfare of the patient. Like wise we have to accept the atomic energy even though it has inherent dangers.

from:  chandra kumar
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 19:02 IST

The whole article is sheer verbiage. Basic issues have not been
covered. India has maximum train accidents ! Have we done
away with trains? India has the maximum deaths due to road
accidents! Have we stopped using vehicles ? Nuclear accidents
are bound to take place given the competence and laziness of
our people.We have to decide whether the damage is aceptable
to us or not.
This is the crux of the problem and not the in-built safety
against natural occurrences. Can we ensure that our engineers
will be well trained to deal with the mistakes that can occur
during operation of the plant.
Take the case of High Power wireless transmitters. Very high DC
voltages are used in them. Plenty of safety measures are
introduced in them. Yet in the early days many accidents
occurred and are removed today due to satellite communication.
A backward and underdeveloped country like ours has no place
for nuclear power plants. Maybe after 50 years we will have
people capable of operating them safely.

from:  S N IYER
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 18:53 IST

This is the time when we need to think about social cost and public safety related to the nuclear power plants.

from:  ashish
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 18:41 IST

Koodnakulam Nuclear Power Plant has to be shut. No nuclear power plants
are disaster free. We have to leave our land safely to our future
generation. The cong govt has to stop harassing the poor people of
Kudankulam and other villages. Safety of the common man is very very
important in a democracy. If needed the cong govt can use their
expertise to invent new sources of energy but not nuclear energy. Thanks
to the authors of this article and the Hindu for creating good awareness
against the nuclear power plant.

from:  jeyaraj
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 17:57 IST

The safety report must be made public. The assumptions made in generating this report must be made public. The assumptions must be validated by an independent committee and its report must be made public. Without all these, it is not possible to believe whether the plant is safe or not.
100% safe is immaginary. All we can plan is to make the plant operate safely in case of natural dissasters that is 3 times more intense than the bigget natural disasters that has happened in the last 100 years. Again, this should be one of the assumptions in the safety report. If the government can come clean on these reports, then further sebates can be made.

from:  gopal
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 17:53 IST

People of Kudankulam should allow the government to open the plant. Before that our government must prove that it is capable of evacuating millions of people from there within specified time. Accident may never happen but it is mandatory to prove the evacuation can be done (as we do for fire drills). It may take years for people to live there again in case of disaster hence government should announce a detailed plan for these people like - Where they will stay and their source of income. With the current inter-state relationship we have (Even water sharing is a big problem in our country), I do not think any state will be ready to accept millions of people to live in their state though they might demand the NP to be opened for electricity to be consumed by them.
Finally people who live there have more rights to comment on the NP than anyone of us who stay beyond the danger zone. In case of disaster we may not sleep for one night but it is those people who will carry the scar for ever.

from:  Venki
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 17:16 IST

What are you people speaking? No other effects or disasters can be
compared with that of nuclear's. It doesn't affect you alone but
continues for generations. You people are not exposed to that
environment yet. I belong to one such place in kanyakumari district.
It's not nuclear disaster alone which people are afraid of, but the
radiation which kills, on an average 5 to 10 people die of cancer in my
village. This is only because of radiation. For the proof of it the
company which separates the nuclear material from our beach sand
provides half the charge of medicines. Try placing a nuclear power
plant in Marina beach and Besant Nagar beach then you will know the
pain of those people.

from:  Jophine Pranjal
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 17:02 IST

One must carefully consider the assumptions behind any study, which often are
skewed to favor whatever conclusion one wishes to support. Here for instance, the
authors suggest in point #1 that a combination of two rare events - a magnitude
9 earthquake and a 15m tsunami was required. The sentence almost suggests that
these two events would normally be uncorrelated which is not at all the case as the
tsunami was generated by the earthquake, and we can only speak of one rare
event and not two rare events.

Further, on all points mentioned as problems, we in India usually fare much worse
than any other country whether it be regulatory lapses, technical incompetence,
political indecision or caring for the health impacts on the public.

Nuclear technology is a viable option, but not for India, not under the present
circumstances and definitely not in Kudankulam, unless of course we wish to be

from:  Vivek
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 16:48 IST

Officials and Government should take it seriously the fear of people
(at least in the vicinity of reactor) and should reply to the point.

It is sad even the "popular figure", our ex-president didn't take pain
to do that.

from:  Sivagnanam B
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 16:43 IST

The writers have miserably failed to give an objective relevance of Fukushima vis-a-vis Kudankulam and while doing so, they've hidden more than what they've revealed. Let's talk scientific facts:
Firstly, every student of geology on earth knows that, Japan is historically vulnerable to earthquakes while,earthquake fault-lines are atleast 1500km away from Kudankulam shores, towards Indian Ocean/Sumatra Islands. In this context, it's apt to recall the statements of Dr.Kalam, if nearby Suchindram or Nelliappar Temple in Tirunelveli have withstood for over 1000years without any problem, there is no reason to disbelieve that, an earth quake of huge magnitude will never ever occur near Kudankulam.
Secondly, 2004 Tsunami had no impact due to location of plant at higher el.wrt MSL.
Thirdly & importantly, successive committees have studied in depth about the state-of-the-art safety features in Kudankulam which were all not there in a 30year old plant like Fukushima. Need one say more?

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 16:33 IST

Safety aside, what about liability?
In the remotely possible event of a radiation incident, who will pay for the clean up and the compensation?

Have we not learnt anything from Bhopal?

from:  Siddhartha K
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 16:24 IST

Well, if I am wrong on the assessment of ability of Atomic Bombs and
that of Nuclear Reactors as Elangovan argued, then why do we install
such Reactors on the coastal areas like Kalpakkam, Kudankulam? If he
feels Indian Nuclear Plants are really safe, you can install near the
Parliament or State Assembly.
Huge volume of Heavy Water is required(HW Plant is already working in
Tuticorin) as Moderator;in the event of disaster like earthquake, the
system fails that causes fatal losses like Fukushima.
It has become like a trend that if some one oppose Nuclear Power, he
is labelled as conservative or he lacks knowledge of Science and any
one who supports will be classified as Knowledgeable. Even the GoI
tries a lot to label the opponents as agents of Anti-India, which is a
very cheap politics.
To conculde, Elangovan is neither the almighty to give the world such
a promise nor, he can safeguard the Plant all the time.I am not a
Scientist, but I know little as I studied Physics in University.

from:  Lakshmanan B
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 16:17 IST

It must be "pure fun" for this intellectual trio who have written some irrelevant stuff on "Relevance of Fukushima in Kudankulam", from the cosy confines of Singapore. At least they could have got the facts right and would have done well to come down to Tamilnadu,talk to people around, visit Kudankulam around and then write the relevance of Fukushima or any other plant with Kudankulam.
Firstly, those who have studied this issue in-depth, know that,area around Kudankulam had been a barren land never known for any agricultural output of rice or milk production as written by these writers. I have known this area very well for almost 3 decades & there was no development/employment of what so ever, before Kudankulam plant came into existence. The project has brought employment, prosperity, improvement in road,transport and over all economic development in 3 adjoining dist.of Kanyakumari, Tirunelvei & Tuticorin. Leave aside cost benifit analysis. Come down here & ask people what they want!

from:  Prasad
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 16:13 IST

The Risk planning and assessment of the area for selection of Nuclear plant has to be made
available to the public. The area of the kundankulam reactor, if it has a probability of having
an natural disaster even if the probability is the least should not be allowed. Impact of a
nuclear disaster is clearly documented but the probability of an natural disaster occurring in
costal regions with a tsunami has already witnessed in tamilnandu area. Why don't the
people be given the risk analysis data for a probability of sesmic activity in the region. This is
not a business transaction to perform a cost and benefit analysis. It involves life and health
of thousand of individuals, if there is a probability of a natural disaster then the reactors
should not be brought to main stream. Why are we considering a cost and benefit analysis
when we have life and health at stake ?

from:  Niri
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 16:06 IST

does anyone of these pro neuclear activists live near a reactor?

from:  siju
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 15:29 IST

Recent BBC documentary outlines root cause for failure of the cooling system in Nuclear reactor.flooding of generators in the basement prevented to pump the water into reactor core. Aparently it is the placement of the generators that caused the disaster. Such a simple design flaw has caused the biggest Nuclear disaster

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 15:16 IST

Mr. Lakshmanan B - the comments of Udhistir and Nagaraja iyer are not childish. If you take enough patience to analyse the article juxtaposing it's history with the present situation, you will clearly understand that this is not a issue of safety that is being made in complete sense, though safety is the first line of defence. This is an ideological issue being oppressed on simple and innocent people who show strength in numbers but they are being deliberately kept hidden from all the facts on the table.

I am a human first and i value human life above all development, after all there is no meaning for development which doesnt value this life. Please do a small research on the current power situation of India for those who like Lakshmanan havent got the slightest clue about the real situation. The article is well balanced and it brings out the until now unearthed facts which must be considered in the case of kudankulam.

from:  bharath
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 14:59 IST

Air travel is risky, but does anybody avoid it? Using LPG gas in the kitchen is risky. does anybody avoid it? This was Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 07:13 IST by Nagaraja Iyer.

How could you compare between a air travel / LPG accidents with a Nuclear Accident. In case of LPG or air accidents, the effects are confined to the accident site, it will not affect the future generations (air, water & food will not get affected). But in case of a small Radiation leak from the Nuclear plant, everything will get affected & it takes several 100years for recovery. Can we afford to have such situation in Tamilnadu / India.
We don't want electricity by ruining the life of Future generations.

from:  Kishore Kumar Chennai
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 14:19 IST

Energy is India's need of the hour. Is nuclear energy a way forward,
definitely yes. Are there risks involved, absolutely. Will the
construction plans involve curtailing these risks, yes. Will these
steps try and stop from the plant affecting people's lives, to their
best abilities. Will it be implemented as planned, it remains a
question because of corruption. But any investment has risks, if we
have to survive the future they have to be taken. And Fukushima,
India is nowhere close to getting hit by that intensity, even if it
does, the lessons have to be learnt now and better structures have
to be built. Learning should take us forward not the other way.
Stalling the construction itself is stupidity or politically
motivated. Hence it is right on GOI's part to take a hard stand.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 14:10 IST

Safety of the people is the first concern. Actually we don't know how safe the plant is. Even though we believe it will be safe at the same time our mind never forget how the construction of stadium and game village of Delhi commonwealth games went on.

from:  bastpt
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 14:06 IST

Maybe Lakshmanan B should help us to understand or argue logically how a nuclear accident would destroy whole of humanity. His complete comment is rhetorical.

from:  ranjit
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 14:04 IST

I express my appreciation and I congrtulate T.N.Srinivasan, T.S.Gopi Rethinaraj and Surya Sethi for the excellent writing 'How Fukushima is relevant to Kudankulam.' in the editorial page of 'The Hindu' today. It is an eye opener to all of us in Tamilnadu and to all in India at large. But will our bretheren ever learn the relevance of Fukushima to Kudankulam?I wish we learn it soon.
Life of people should be given uppermost importance as highlighted by the writers.

from:  Sumathy Dennis
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 13:59 IST

I am a resident of Tokyo and felt the repurcussions of Tsunami/Earthquake that devastated Japan. Of course many safety measures asumptions ot be revisited and honest solutions ot be found. But irrespective of that there is going to be some other nuclear incident or accident somewhere in the world since the human beings are capable of underestimating things. So, are we going to stop these power plants? What is the alternative? With even the mentioning of Iran sanctions, fossile fuel is sky high. We can't expect Middle east problems are going to be solved in any foreseeable future.

Japan suffered a lot during the power blockade (power rationing to industries and city wards) but nowhere comparable to my brethren going through in TN. Let Jayalalitha and her coterie or Karunanidhi and his gang should set aside their personal agenda and bring solace to Tamilians. Let us switch on the power from Kudankulam.

from:  Muthiah
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 13:52 IST

Considering Fukushima incident, the government should ensure that enough safety norms are at place. But once that done, the project should go ahead instead of being scrapped due to fear of local people. India has a huge energy deficit which is only expanding.

AS far as 'extreme incidents' are concerned, the safety norms should take care of that. Something beyond that extreme bound will be just an ill luck! If losses due to nuclear plant in the event of a high magnitude earthquake and/or tsunami are being considered, so should the losses due to poor buildings and other infrastructure. The Japanese had their buildings built to withstand that high magnitude earthquake. But are Indian building designed to do so? I bet if a serious earthquake/tsunami occurs, however low the probability is, the losses due to building and infrastructure collapse will be far more than that due to radiation!

from:  PY
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 13:49 IST

I would like to reject Lakshmanan's aversion based on his poor knowledge about atomic bombs where the fission is uncontrolled and nuclear reactors where the fission is controlled. No one have seen a mushroom cloud like seen in Hiroshima or Nagasaki over Chernobyl or Fukushima and death of thousands. Kudangulam reactors has in built mechanisms to over come the Chernobyl type breakdowns or the Fukushima type natural disasters. Even Udhayakumar did not talked about nuclear bombs and mushroom cloud. Lakshmanan's aversion that the rectors are multiple time more dangerous than atomic bombs shows his lack of knowledge on this subject.

from:  Elangovan
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 13:34 IST

One of the most biased articles and no wonder people who wrote these are
from "Singapore" and not from India..Fukishma accident happened mainly due to mistakes and in an ideal world if they considered all the probabilities and possibilities it would have never happened..The only thing we need to do is to create a inspection mechanism where common people can be educated and take part in inspection..Simply opposing Fukishma shows their mindset..

from:  Shan
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 13:29 IST

I agree with Lakshmanan B's comment.

from:  Alka
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 13:24 IST

it is very unfortunate that we still debate on kudamgulam. Either we stop using electricity or try to make more electricity. Or in a way restrict that everybody from 4% rich people to 35% Below poverty line that use only x units per day.
In our country we can not restrict anything. This implies that we generate more power. From where? solar/fossil is definetly not efficient at least today. THAT Leaves us with Kudangulam only. People fear is defintely to be considered but what is larger interest? Are those activists should not try for a proper alternatives and distribute the same without corruption rather than sitting and delaying. We keep debating with professors, lecturers and dont leave even Mr.Kalam. Pity

from:  ganesh
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 13:20 IST

Using Fukushima as an example of a nuclear disaster is wrong. The problem arose from the earthquake and tsunami, and 9 on the Richter scale is very difficult to safeguard anything against. If India was hit with such an earthquake, nuclear leakage will be the least of our worries. Germany switched away from nuclear power because they have other alternatives in place, not because they are afraid of nuclear power. We in India cannot afford to put a great deal of development on hold based on our fears. How about taking a look at France, which generates 85% of its electricity through nuclear power? No disasters there.

Which activity in India is stopped because it causes hazards to human life? We have embraced fertilizers and polluting industries, and practically every industry has impacted the quality of life of Indian citizens.

The organizations using images from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to protest against nuclear power should be admonished severely for misleading people.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 13:15 IST

Authors did a fine balance between need and its result. Yes it is very much a need for a poor country like India to look for energy options which will not end with the supply what it has got now. But saying that we can't take a blind approach towards nuclear energy as this is not as affordable and as safe as renewable energy. It is true that planes fail or LPG cylinders fail but with a nuclear disaster its aftermath is far grave and contagious then one can imagine. Even advanced countries feel its a daunting task if economies fail and that too with natural disasters like one happened in Japan and for countries like India which is slowly standing on its feet it would be catastrophic on scale and unimaginable with its post effects. As rightly said we can have no humanly designed system with zero risk and this needs to be carefully controlled by independent agencies to gain trust of common man instead of blaming NGOs. This is to be taken up immediately to safe guard national energy needs.

from:  Pradeep A
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 12:51 IST

The responses of readers, Udhishtir and Nagaraja Iyer are so disguising or childish. How can you compare Nuclear Accidenents with Air crash or LPG Cylinder explosion? Nuclear diaster has the ability to destroy the whole mankind, not just Fukushima or India. Its wonder that people forget the even-today consequences of Nuclear Bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki where initial estimates showed the death of more than 200 thousands people on the first day of bombing.
Nuclear Reactors are multiple times powerful than an atomic bomb when disaster happens. Recall Chenobyl accident, Fukushima disaster and POisonous gas leak accident in Bhopal. If Govt of India (or Manmohan and APJ Abdul Kalam for that metter) think India is a master of Nuclear Safety and nothing wrong can
happen, then I am sorry, I will loose my high regards to them and suspect the real motive behing this Nuclear Power Plant. Let us not take the chance of highest risks on the life of people.

from:  Lakshmanan B
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 12:34 IST

Disposal of nuclear waste is another huge issue. Why create something that cannot be disposed-off safely for thousands of years? Read how other countries are realizing the significant ature of this challenge.

from:  KN Sinha
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 12:24 IST

India has been successfully operating Tarapur, Kalpakkam & Kakrapar Nuclear Power plants , which are situated close to megacities such as Mumbai,Chennai and Surat for decades. So what is the problem specific to koodanKulam which is situated in a relatively thinner populated region. Why are there activists never mention anything about these nuclear plants when they deliberately try to create paranoia about KoodanKulam, which by far is the one to use latest technologies. Their intentions are really suspect and don't look like genuine safety issues.

from:  Ullas
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 11:43 IST

Unfortunately the debate has been hijacked by some people with very
linear view of development - Arundhati Roy (novelist), Aruna Roy (ex-
civil servant/social activist), Ramachandra Guha (historian) or the
Public Policy experts (author of this article). The 'argumentative
Indian' will jump to any debate beyond their brief and domain - at
stake is our infrastructure which is in shambles.
I see this as a scientific debate which none of these people are
equipped with. Unfortunately, these people who are PR savvy are raking
up the issue with sentimental fervor and maligning our scientific
community - even making them agents of UPA! I have reasons to trust
Abdul Kalam and the scientific community. At least Abdul Kalam has
nothing to gain at this age and stature. We need to be careful in
choosing our intellectual leaders - in India, they have failed us

from:  amit
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 11:16 IST

I have not seen any protests immediately after Fukushima disaster in
Kudankulam or at least nothing was reported in the media. As person
suffering from intermittent power cuts in a village area I strongly criticize the protesters who are showing up only after the new political
regime came to power in the recent elections. I suspect many things
about the true intention of the protesters.

from:  chandrasekaran
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 11:10 IST

Every Engineering, man-made structure is prone to failure. Therefore, Risk-Mitigation measures are quintessential. People protest against Nuclear Power, when flippancy and insouciance dominate the realm of Industrial and Public Safety. Even those who promote Nuclear Power know that there is no such thing as 100% safety. It is this reality, coupled together with their own doubts that makes even ardent supporters, somewhat skeptical in their own cause to promote Nuclear Power. Right from the US to UK to Japan, every nation is evaluating such risk-mitigation measures as part of overall Risk portfolio. Instead of polemics and extremist views from both sides, what is required is a clear exit-route/procedures in wake of "Black Swan" occurrences as that happened in Chernobyl, Fukushima, and 3-Mile Island. After all, people do not fly in an airline without Emergency Evacuation procedures.

from:  Rex Arul
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 11:02 IST

The Fukisima plant is a construction done in the 1990 and are not advanced plants,The cooling systems failed apparently under the never imaginable circumstances. The cost of destruction to life has been minimal due to leak of radiation, In a likely scenario of excluding our country from development,we need to pay heavy price and for which we are already facing a daunting task. If we become a country producing clean nuclear energy we will be able to sell this to regional countries like France dose and will become an important power in this area.This I suppose is a thorn for other western countries that want us to depend on oil. Guys, Imagine the money and progress our country would have using thorium for fast breeder reactors.

from:  Sai
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 10:58 IST

My experience with our organisations is that people occupy positions- not based on their understanding of the subject but management of the organisation for promotions.
Let us not cloud the issue but face the facts!
Examples are many in areas where these organisations are not to disclose facts under RTI!

from:  atis
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 10:27 IST

The nuclear industry has learnt from TMI and Chernobyl and will
definitely learn from Fukushima.When an extraordinary and unforeseen
natural disaster occurs,it is human nature to respond with some
measure of uncertainty.After the earthquake occurred, all of the
reactors at the plant shut down safely.It was the massive tsunami that
caused a total power failure that disabled critical safety systems.New
reactor designs have evolved dramatically over the decades with
passive safety features that would have prevented the accident that
occurred at Fukushima.Westinghouse AP1000,Russian VVER-1000 and french
AREVA reactors employs passive safety systems that rely on gravity,
natural circulation and condensation to shut down safely and maintain
the cooling process for three days,even with a complete loss of power.
Nuclear energy gives carbon-free electricity and baseload power
options to established and emerging countries alike.A nuclear accident
somewhere is not nuclear accident everywhere.

from:  B. Krishnakumar
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 10:18 IST

Regulator bashing seems to be a favourite pastime for many writers. Fukushima tsunami washed away three whole trains with people; many townships and structures were destroyed leading to heavy loss of life and money. On the other hand so far there has not been even a single death attributed to post-accident radiation release in Fukushima. I take it that in the developed country that is Japan, "public regulators" in charge of safety in rail transport, and those who supervise town-planning are independent and do not have collusive relationship with transport operators and property developers. Then, how come they allowed railway tracks to be laid or buildings to be constructed in tsunami prone areas? Independence bestowed on the Regulators has not reduced (non-sabotage) fatal accidents and monetary loss in Indian Railways. Moral: what you need is knowledgeable, enlightened and effective regulation rather than pro forma independent Regulator. In the nuclear area India has achieved this.

from:  Udhishtir
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 08:26 IST

There are many lessons for India from the Fukoshima disasters, the
most raw of them is the experience of common man. One lives through
the worst natural disaster in 2004 in the form of the Indian Ocean
Tsunami, one sees a nuclear plant disaster on live TV because of a
Tsunami. You don't need to be a scientist or in Manmohan Singh's words
"knowledgeable population" to connect these two events. The common
folk in Kudamkulam has done precisely this. This article provide the
scientific and policy validity to their concerns. Applied science and
technology happens not in a theoretical vacuum but in lived reality,
all the supporters of the nuclear energy I hope will recognize this.

The lived reality of secrecy of DAE, lessons from Fukoshima and
Bhopal, Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power are the ones
that makes people anti nuclear.

from:  Sreejith Murali
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 07:46 IST

Expert panel should give a clear report on problem is that in
india every project has corruption included,so no one can say how strong
the plant is.No doubt energy is primary need of growing india.But safety
of people should be the first term to deal with.

from:  Gaurav Sharma
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 07:44 IST

Air travel is risky, but does anybody avoid it? Using LPG gas in the kitchen is risky. does anybody avoid it? It is not clear how the authors want safeguard against earthquake, tsunami, etc which are natural. Authors want to satisfy both parties which is not possible.

from:  Nagaraja Iyer
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 07:13 IST

The authors raise serious issues and recommend transparent social risk-benefit analysis. However, there is enough evidence based on experience in the post-war years of nuclear power generation that this form of electricity generation will not pass any cost/risk-benefit analysis. We already have the examples of Three Mile Island (U.S.A.), Chernobyl (former U.S.S.R.) and Fukushima (Japan)showing that human error and natural disasters can lead to wide-spread consequences.

Aside from safety concerns, nuclear power has never been able to meet the market test. That is why it is heavily subsidised everywhere. There is no way a private insurance company will write a liability insurance contract.

In the Indian context, nuclear power, with all the open and hidden subsidies, is the most expensive form of generation. Its contribution to India's grid is small and all nuclear plants in India have been unreliable.

Another study will show the same result. So, why bother? Phase out nuclear power.

from:  k.v.nagarajan
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 04:33 IST

Whereas the Japanese authorities remained reticent about real threats, NHK regularly broadcasts critical reports and findings. One such program conveyed that TEPCO was informed about the possibility of huge tsunamis based on new research findings. TEPCO engineers concluded that Fukushima would not withstand the new limits as far back as 2007. The note was withheld for commercial reasons, and officially passed on to the regulators on Mar.7,2011. Four days later, the tsunami struck. Another recent episode, where divers undertook dives within the 20KM exclusion zone, found radiation levels 15000 times the mandated post-accident raised safe limits on the sea-bed - poisoning the fish nearer the almost safe surface due to the radioactive worms being part of the food chain. Nuclear power, along with many dangerous chemicals and GMOs are big threats to all life. Funny, but a nuclear bomb, by nature of its working, is quite safe in storage as compared to NPP, which is fission on a leash.

from:  Arvind R.
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 04:16 IST

" hydrogen that exploded rupturing the containment structure" -- a
tendentious error. It ruptured sheet-metal buildings on top of the
containments, whose function was not impaired by this.

"radiation leaks from the disabled plant spread far beyond what had
been deemed likely, affected rice crops, milk and other products ..."

Released gases, no matter how small in amount compared to naturally
radioactive gases in the same atmosphere, will spread indefinitely. So
it is, again, tendentiously wrong to suggest some finite distance had
been expected to behave as an invisible wall for this spread.

Tepco's photojournal shows that vegetation appeared unaffected, no
matter how close to the plants, even on-site. So how were crops
affected? Answer: it became illegal to sell them. But this is a
function, not only of their so-called contamination, but of the law-
making government's conflict of interest. It would rather have the
taxes on $10-50 worth of natural gas than on $1 in uranium.

from:  G.R.L. Cowan
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 02:28 IST

It all boils down to Cost-Benefit analysis. Seeing India's demand for energy, nuclear energy has to be harvested but at what cost is to be analyzed thoroughly and a well-informed decision has to be made. This article is very informative.

from:  Sriram
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 01:37 IST
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