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Laxity in safety at Nuclear plants not acceptable, says NHRC

On its recommendation, NPCIL pays Rs. 3 lakh to the six victims of mishap at Kudankulam Plant

New Delhi, The National Human Rights Commission’s persistence ensured that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) paid Rs. 50 thousand each as relief to six workers, who suffered burn injuries due to the lack of safety measures while maintaining its Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu on the 14th May, 2014.

The Commission observed that the nature of the work carried out in nuclear power projects does not allow any laxity on the part of the authorities in the maintenance of safety standards. Owing to such negligence on the part of KKNPP and NPCIL, the six workers of the project have suffered burn injuries ranging from 60 to 70 per cent resulting in physical pain, mental agony and trauma to them and their families. This cannot be adequately compensated through bearing the cost of treatment or paying wages for the period of absence from duty. There was clear violation of the human rights of the injured employees and they should be adequately compensated for it.

The Commission had taken cognizance of the matter on the 28th May, 2014 on the basis of a media report published on the 15th May, 2014 alleging poor safety measures. In response to the Commission’s notices, the Chairman and Managing Director, NPCIL and the District Collector, Tirunelveli confirmed the incident and informed that all the sick persons, including a supervisor, two technicians and three contract workers suffered 60 – 70 % burn injury. All of them were provided free of cost treatment and their and they were back to work. The Contract employees had been paid the wages for the period of their absence due to the incident. The period of the absence from duty in the case of NPCIL employees was also regularized.

The Commission expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the KKNPP and NPCIL with regard to the medical care and rehabilitation of injured persons. However, an enquiry report by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board pointed deficiencies in the safety standards at the Unit of KKNPP where an accident had happened. Among the other things, it said that the persons working were not wearing personal protective equipments as required except safety helmet and shoes. The report pointed fingers towards negligence on the part of KKNPP and NPCIL and suggested that the incident could have been avoided had the guidelines under maintenance manual were followed.

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