Both are in campaign mode. Not to win an election or canvass votes for a candidate. But, the two organisations with contrary viewpoints are trying to convince the local people, including college students, against the dangers and advantages of setting up hi-tech nuclear reactors at Kovvada in Srikakualam district. Even as the recent nuclear disaster at Fukushima-Daiichi plant in Japan triggered fresh fears and opposition to nuclear energy, the Human Rights Forum and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) have begun a series of campaigns with the former calling for scrapping the move to set up new plants and the latter asserting that the proposed units would be safe.
Six nuclear reactors of 1,600 MWe each to generate 9,600 MWe would be set up at a cost of nearly Rs. 1 lakh crore. Talking to The Hindu on Tuesday, HRF's general secretary V.S. Krishna said that nuclear energy was intrinsically hazardous. “Contrary to popular perception, it is not the answer for climate change. It is a deadly legacy for future generations”, he observed. Seeking a review of the nuclear policy, he demanded scrapping of plans to establish plants at Haripur (West Bengal), Kovvada and Jaitapur ( Maharashtra). He also sought decommissioning of the existing nuclear reactors and urged the government to invest suitably on renewable energy like wind, solar and biomass.
Meanwhile, NPCIL's Chief Engineer of Kovvada nuclear park, G. Venkata Ramesh maintained that the latest generation 3 plus reactors to be established at Kovvada would have adequate safeguards against any terrorist or missile attack, earthquake or tsunami. This was one of the main leitmotifs of an “aggressive awareness” taken up NPCIL in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts to allay fears among the people. “We want to carry people along with us. They are part of the project,” he added. The reactors have been designed for the plant to shut down automatically in three seconds in the event of an accident. Besides, the decay heat in the reactor would be removed by a passive system without requiring power or human intervention. Also in case of a meltdown, it would drop down due to gravity into the core catcher which would be sealed off and shielded to prevent radiation leak into the atmosphere. He said the campaign would explain to the people that a “Fukushima will not happen here”. There was no likelihood of a tsunami of the type witnessed in Japan as the fault zone to trigger such an event was 1,400 km away from Kovvada. There would not be a problem seismically too, he said quoting a seismo-tectonic study for the project.