Special Correspondent

The rights forum terms it a false assumption

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Human Rights Forum (HRF) has taken strong exception to the assertion in the city on Monday by Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India R. Chidambaram that nuclear energy played an important role in tackling energy security and the ongoing climate change crisis.

In a statement here on Wednesday, HRF State general secretary V.S. Krishna observed that the PSA’s view was in line with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent statement that India could increase its atomic electricity generation capacity to 470,000 MW by 2050, if new nuclear power plants were in place and that this “would not only sharply reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels but also contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.”

“HRF is of the opinion that this is a false assumption. Nuclear power is not a solution to the ongoing climate crisis. The promise of nil greenhouse gas (GHG) emission is nothing more than a myth if the entire nuclear fuel cycle – including mining, milling, transportation, construction of the power plant, decommissioning and waste storage – is considered. In the complete production chain of nuclear power, a considerable amount of carbon dioxide is released. The HRF holds that nuclear power has to be rejected because it is intrinsically hazardous, extremely dangerous and is a deadly legacy for future generations. Contrary to popular perception, nuclear power is actually more expensive than power from conventional sources like coal, gas and hydro and is definitely not a solution to the climate crisis,” he stated.

Mr. Krishna said that HRF was opposed to nuclear power because it created dangerous waste, brought unnecessary risks and could not rescue people from climate change. Nuclear power was too slow, expensive, and inflexible a technology to address climate change and would entail the building of thousands of new nuclear reactors.

These reactors would result in intensified proliferation, waste and safety problems. These reactors would also drain investment away from renewable technologies. Clean, safe, renewable energy sources – such as wind, solar, advanced hydroelectric and some types of biomass and geothermal energy – can reliably generate as much energy as conventional fuels without significant carbon emissions, destructive mining or the production of radioactive waste. Moreover, no proven solution exists worldwide for dealing with radioactive waste, he noted.

Energy security

“India needs an energy system that can fight climate change, based on renewable energy and energy efficiency, not on fossil fuels, much less on nuclear fuel. The contention that nuclear power is indispensable to meet future energy needs is also false; for energy demand, and “need”, is obviously a function of the development paradigm chosen and pursued. And “energy security” is not an autonomous objective entity, but must be in alignment with other chosen objectives which must necessarily include equitable growth and concerns for ecology. HRF believes that “energy security” can be achieved by increasing efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and distribution.