Jaitapur may face high intensity quake, says U.S. seismologist

Project-affected villagers plan three-day jail bharo agitation; school children to skip classes

Jaitapur may face a threat of a high intensity earthquake as it lies close to the latitude on which Latur and Koyna in Maharashtra lie, American seismologist Roger Bilham said at a press conference organised by Greenpeace here on Thursday. Latur and Koyna have faced strong earthquakes earlier.

Meanwhile, the people of Jaitapur nuclear project-affected villages declared that they would undertake a massive ‘jail bharo' protest on the January 24, 25 and 26.

“Even school children will participate in the protest by not going to schools. On January 15, we will cremate a model of the nuclear power plant to show our symbolic opposition to the project,” said Satyajit Chavan from Konkan Vinashkari Prakalpa Virodhi Samiti.

Talking about the possibility of an earthquake of more than magnitude six, Dr. Bilham said, “Since Jaitapur lies in the same compressional stress regime that has been responsible for generating the earthquakes both in Latur and Koyna in the past five decades, it can be argued that a similar sized earthquake could possibly occur directly beneath the power plant.”

He and Dr. Vinod Gaur, an Indian professor, have co-authored a paper on such a possibility. The paper was published in the journal, Current Science.

He pointed out that the probability of this earthquake occurring was low “but it is nevertheless possible, and is an important consideration in the design of a safe power plant. It is just that the engineers need to be told to construct a plant which can stand Level VII intensity,” he said.

Dr. Bilham added there was a need to study the location of Jaitapur plateau which is raised a few metres above the sea level.

“It may be innocuous. But maybe, the plate movement raised it. An even more sinister possibility is that a very large earthquake raised the surface. Maybe, it happened 10,000 years ago. And the longer ago it was, the likelier it is to happen now,” he said.

“When it comes to nuclear power plants, you have to consider the most absurd, unlikely things,” he said, adding that these possibilities were just his speculation.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 11:20:37 AM |

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