For Jaitapur villagers, questions remain: U.S. climate scientist

January 24, 2013 12:00 am | Updated 05:37 am IST - Mumbai:

Nuclear energy throughout the world is nearing irrelevance, says John Byrne, Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) and distinguished Professor of the University of Delaware, U.S. He has contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1992 and shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with IPCC researchers.

Dr. Byrne, who is on a 12-day tour to India, held a meeting with anti-nuclear power activists and villagers of the area in and around the proposed Jaitapur plant. “It seems the people have a number of unanswered questions. The answers provided to them are not clear and the risks or other implications of the project are not clear at all. It appears that people want to know the reason for bringing this project here,” he later told press conference organised by Greenpeace.

Making his stand against nuclear energy clear, Dr. Byrne said: “This technology [nuclear] has a record of unanticipated accidents because of its complex nature. The economic investment required to build and operate the plant is huge and the ecological risks associated with the nuclear plant cannot be denied.”

In particular, he noted the repeated negative advisories from credit rating agencies on nuclear power. “Considering all the negative sides of the nuclear energy and the available options of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, the nuclear energy is nearing its irrelevance.” According to Dr. Byrne, the evidence from the scientific community in Japan shows that the nuclear accident in Fukushima after an earthquake and tsunami had its roots in the technology and management-related issues. “These were the problems which were not anticipated even by the well-learned technicians from the Japanese nuclear industry.”

Solar option better

Comparing the option of solar energy vis-a-vis nuclear power, he said it was more sustainable. “But right now solar energy is restricted to individual uses. There has been no cost-effective model in the case of solar energy to build a plant which will benefit a larger population. We are working on such model, but I am sure that in future, such model will be developed.”

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