AEC chief puts odds of N-plant accidents at ‘1-in-infinity’

A file photo of Atomic Energy Commission chairman Srikumar Banerjee.  

The probability of an accident due to a nuclear plant is one is to infinity and all atomic power plants in the country conform to safety standards, chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Srikumar Banerjee said on Thursday.

“At least 1.75 lakh people die due to road accidents in a single year whereas there are nearly 14,000 nuclear plants in the world and the casualty rate till date is just 52,” Dr. Banerjee told reporters on the sidelines of the golden jubilee celebrations of Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory (TBRL) at Ramgarh, near Chandigarh.

Pointing out that no human activity can be risk-free, he said there was a definite need for creating awareness and programmes should to be intensified to convince the people in the neighbourhood of a proposed or existing nuclear plant.

He said human body faces more radiation during a CT scan than working in a nuclear power plant.

Referring to the recent Fukushima nuclear accident, Dr. Banerjee said it happened after a gap of 25 years and the cause and effect of the accident was earthquake followed by a tsunami.

“It was not a nuclear accident... immediately after the earthquake, the nuclear reactor shut down and nuclear chain reaction stopped,” he said adding it was a complete station blackout as the decay heat produced in the plant could not be taken out.

He, however, said the total casualty due to the nuclear accident was zero.

“The spread of radiation was not as high as it was projected,” he said talking about the nuclear accident in Japan.

After a nuclear reactor is shut down the energy level comes down to around 2 per cent from 100 per cent due to heat decay, Dr. Banerjee said.

He, however, exuded confidence all nuclear plants in the country are safe and conform to the standards of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and are taken care of by Nuclear Power Corporation.

“India too experienced earthquakes and tsunami in the past but there was no nuclear accident as the nuclear plants had all the gadgets to give signal much in advance,” he said.

Dr. Banerjee rejected that alarm bells had rung in India after the Japanese nuclear accident. “All steps needed for safety and security for nuclear plants have been taken by Nuclear Power Corporation,” he added.

He, however, stressed that it was necessary to strengthen the mechanism in the passive cooling system in nuclear plants in India. In the passive cooling system, heat can be taken out from the plant.

Responding to a query regarding protests by habitants before setting up a nuclear plant in their neighbourhood, he said what is needed is to explain things to local people in simple local language and also convince them what actually the plant is.

After land acquisition, a package must be given to the affected people and at all costs excellent relationship is needed with people living around the plant.

He termed it as “baseless,” the allegation that nuclear radiation comes out from the nuclear plant. Besides, the plants along the coastal areas do not have any effect on the lives of fish, he added.

To become energy-sufficient India has to generate 6,000 MW by 2032, he said adding there was a need to develop solar, wind and renewable power plants for the growth of the country, Dr. Banerjee said.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 6:36:10 PM |

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