Concern in Sri Lanka over Indian n-plant

COLOMBO, MAY 20. Sri Lankan environmentalists have voiced concern over the nuclear power plant coming up at Koodankulam in south Tamil Nadu in proximity to the country's coast.

``It is likely to have a serious impact on Sri Lanka in case of a mishap,'' the Sunday Times newspaper said in a report on the 2000 MW power plant coming up with a Russian nuclear reactor.

Mr. Hemantha Withanage of the Environmental Foundation warned of ``serious consequences'' in case of a mishap. ``A possible terrorist attack or an explosion can cause a devastating impact on Sri Lanka,'' he said.

The power plant's effect on Sri Lanka ``will be minimal,'' but a slight mishap or leak could have a ``drastic impact,'' said Dr. Granville Dharmawardene, director of the Department of Nuclear Science, University of Colombo. ``We have the risk, and not the benefits, and all we can do is to strengthen the protection aspects,'' he said.

The newspaper also said Indian scientists had already raised concerns about the possible effects of the plant on the marine ecology in the Gulf of Mannar which separates the south Tamil Nadu coast from Sri Lanka.