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Archives for : Koodankulam

Madras HC orders withdrawal of all cases against protesters #Goodnews

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Adv. Pugazhenthi had filed a writ petition seeking implementation of the SC order in Koodankulam matter directing the State Government to withdraw criminal cases against the Koodankulam protestors and residents. The State Government had argued that the SC had only suggested that the State Govt should “endeavour” to withdraw cases, and as such it was not a direction compelling them to withdraw the cases. The State argued that the circumstances were not conducive for withdrawal of cases as the residents of the villages around the plant are still engaged in protests such as the recently organised mass die-in.

 

The Madras High Court‘s 1st bench — comprising Agarwal and Sathyanarayana — held that the SC’s direction was binding, and that the State Government must withdraw all cases against the protestors as expeditiously as possible.

 

According to Vetri, if the cases are not withdrawn within 3 months, a case can be filed to have it done forthwith.

 

The matter was argued by Adv. Radhakrishnan

 

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/madrashc-issues-notice-for-withdrawal-of-cases-against-anti-nuclear-activists/" target="_blank"> #MadrasHC- issues notice for withdrawal of cases against anti-nuclear activists
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  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/press-release-noamundi-five-activists-accused-by-tata-steel-in-fabricated-cases-acquitted-goodnews/" target="_blank">Press Release – #India – 5 activists accused by Tata Steel in fabricated cases acquitted #goodnews

 

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Criticality may mean death for Kudankulam’s seas

The first two units of the Kudankulam nuclear plant will discharge 6.3 billion litres of waste water every day right onto the beach. This discharge will trigger a slow-motion disaster that will poison beaches, devastate near-shore fisheries and choke the livelihood of fisherfolk in the vicinity, says Nityanand Jayaraman.

Only providence, not the plant’s design or regulators’ due diligence, will now help the Kudankulam reactor function without any major mishap if and when Unit 1 limps to commercial production of electricity. Unit 1 and 2’s effluent disposal system is inherently harmful, and regulators have cleared the plant for operation despite knowing that.

In June 2013, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board renewed Unit 1 and 2’s license to operate. This allows each plant to discharge 6.3 billion litres of waste water every day right onto the beach. This discharge will trigger a slow-motion disaster that will poison beaches, devastate near-shore fisheries and choke the livelihood of fisherfolk in the vicinity.

When that happens, the blame should fall squarely on the individuals in Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the State Coastal Zone Management Authority, the 12 members of the Union environment ministry’s expert appraisal committee on CRZ, and the ministry itself. All of them would have knowingly allowed this damage to happen.

As things stand, an open channel running along the nuclear plant’s seaside compound wall will empty the effluents onto the beach. That is a lot of pollution to dump into the Gulf of Mannar. 6.3 billion litres per day translates to 2,600 cusecs. Last fortnight, farmers in Tiruchirapalli rejoiced when 3,000 cusecs of water was released from the Mettur Dam. At full power, the two units will dump 5,200 cusecs of hot, salty, toxic water every day onto Kudankulam’s beaches.

Dr. Mark Chernaik, scientific advisor to ELAW-US — a global network of environmental lawyers and activists, reviewed Kudankulam’s Environmental Impact Assessment report and the response of the government’s expert group. According to him, “neither contains an adequate assessment of the impacts to marine life of cooling water (thermal) discharges.”

Citing case studies from China and Brazil, Dr Chernaik concludes that “The impact to marine life of thermal discharges are indirect, yet still very substantial: small increases of the temperature of marine water changes water chemistry, including reductions in dissolved oxygen levels. . .that can deleteriously impact fisheries. Also, fish may be able to migrate to avoid localised temperature shifts, but their food sources (sponges, algae, and small invertebrates) are fixed and cannot.”

Local effects on fisheries will be evident within days of release. According to a 2008 study for NPCIL, ocean currents in this region flow parallel and close to the shore. During the southwest monsoon, the currents flow east from Kudankulam towards Idinthakarai. Between November and February, the currents reverse.

The wastewater will kill all life in the inter-tidal zone in the immediate vicinity of the effluent channel. A 2011 study for Units 3 to 6 records 30 species of plankton in Kudankulam’s near-shore waters, nearly twice the number found in deeper waters. The hot water will float in the direction of the current, reducing dissolved oxygen and wiping out the plankton. The blanket of death will spread seaward until the temperature reaches ambient levels.

The rocky areas in the vicinity of the effluent channel are rich in prawns and lobsters. Local fishermen talk of days when prawns literally boil into their nets. Prawns and lobsters are not surface dwellers; so the hot water is unlikely to affect them directly. But, with the plankton gone, a keystone in the local food chain would have disappeared, knocking the life out of the local ecosystem and the fishery dependent community. All fish that can swim to cooler waters will leave.

The 2011 study also reports that the villages of Idinthakarai, Kootapulli and Perumanal — all in the vicinity of the plant — landed 14,000 tonnes of fish in 2010. At least half of that was sardines, a plankton-feeder. No plankton; no sardines.

Even the expert appraisal committee of the MoEF seems to think that discharging such a large quantity of polluted water onto the shores of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve is not a good idea. The EAC considered NPCIL’s application for CRZ clearance for Units 3 to 6 in April and September 2011. The committee observed that the proposal is for “the construction of open channel for outfall. Due to various environmental problems, including adverse impacts on the marine life, the present proposal not (sic) acceptable.”

In May 2012, EAC recommended clearance with a condition that the effluent disposal scheme was “modified to discharge the [coolant water] through underwater pipelines to a region of 4-5 metres bathymetry which is away from the shore.”

Barring a few members, the EAC that made this insightful recommendation is the same that recommended CRZ clearance for Units 1 & 2 in March 2013. Curiously, this recommendation did not warn against near-shore discharge or recommend a deep-sea, marine outfall. As on date, the environment ministry’s website says that clearance is still pending. Legally speaking, the plant cannot commence operations without a CRZ clearance.

But the TNPCB has granted its consent to operate the plant. Unlike the AERB, which is subservient to the Department of Atomic Energy, TNPCB is technically independent. But that independence is only notional. Like the AERB, the pollution control board too is only a crony regulator.

Nityanand Jayaraman is a Chennai-based writer and a volunteer with the Chennai Solidarity Group for the Kudankulam struggle.

Nityanand Jayaraman

 

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-environmental-group-files-petition-against-nuclear-kudankulam-project/" target="_blank"> #India – Environmental Group files petition against Nuclear Kudankulam project
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Indian People’s Charter on Nuclear Energy

The Charter reproduced below was adopted by the People’s National Convention Against Nuclear Energy held in Ahmedabad from 25-26 July 2013.

Indian People’s Charter on Nuclear Energy

 The Indian People’s Charter on Nuclear Energy is a statement emerging from the shared experiences, struggles and visions of grassroots movements for a safe energy future. Such movements have existed right since the inception of India’s nuclear programme and have scored significant victories in places like Kerala.

More recently, people from Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), Gorakhpur (Haryana), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh) and Haripur (West Bengal) have waged relentless struggles against these anti-people and unsafe nuclear power projects being promoted by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL). Their massive peaceful protests have been met with callousness and brutal repression on the part of the government. Communities near the existing nuclear facilities in Tarapur, Rawatbhata, Kalpakkam, Kaiga, Kakrapar and Hyderabad have also been raising voices against radiation leaks and their harmful effects, which are often hushed up by the authorities. Existing and proposed new uranium mines in Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Meghalaya have also met with massive protests. In the recent past, these voices of protest have received solidarity and support from the wider democratic sections of Indian society. Intellectuals, policy experts, scientists, social activists, writers, artists and people from all walks of life have come out and backed these movements.

Nuclear energy is today widely seen as posing a threat to the life, livelihoods and the environment, not least because it can have irreversible catastrophic consequences and radiation effects spanning across generations. Chernobyl, followed by the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan has led to global rethinking on the pursuit of nuclear energy with many countries reversing and phasing out their nuclear energy programmes. Owing to its inherent safety problems, exorbitant costs and secretive nature, it has been invariably thrust on people against their will through pressure tactics and often violent repression of local communities.

Despite the hyperbole surrounding it and its enormous budgets, nuclear power accounts only for 3% of India’s electrical capacity. Yet India is planning to expand it massively, one of the main motives being to fulfil the promise of paybacks made to the US for the Indo-US nuclear deal and to other countries for their support in getting an endorsement for that agreement from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group for India. Such expansion will also strengthen the domestic and foreign industrial lobbies that see great opportunities to profit. It will greatly reinforce the power and privilege of the nuclear establishment and further promote India’s highly centralised and energy-intensive growth path.

The claim that nuclear energy is indispensable for the country’s energy security is widely questioned. Nuclear energy expansion will detract from our real requirements of ecologically sustainable, decentralised and equitable model of energy supply and use.

All this means that the issue of whether or not the path of nuclear energy should be pursued (and if so, how and under what preconditions) must be put upfront on the public agenda.

We demand that:

  • A moratorium should be imposed with immediate effect on all proposed nuclear reactor projects.
  • Land acquisition for nuclear projects should immediately be put on hold.
  • An open and democratic national debate on nuclear energy and alternatives to it be organised. The government must acknowledge that there are serious and legitimate concerns about the hazards of nuclear power
  • The government must constitute a high-level citizens’ commission to examine the appropriateness, desirability, safety, environmental soundness, costs and long-term problems posed by nuclear power generation. This commission must include independent experts, social scientists and civil society representatives.
  • The government must set up a body of independent experts to carry out baseline health and environmental surveys in all areas where it is proposed to set up reactors, start mining and otherwise establish activities and structures connected to the whole nuclear fuel cycle. The survey results must be transparently shared with the local public, which must assured full and unimpeded access to their health data.
  • The existing process of Environmental Impact Assessment for nuclear projects by non-accredited bodies is unacceptable. So is the non-consideration of specific nuclear hazards, including radiation leaks, radioactive waste storage, transportation risks, accidents, etc. Environmental clearances to all nuclear projects must be tightened with mandatory public hearings and full disclosure of all pertinent facts, including those related to the generic problems of nuclear power generation – radiation, effluents and emissions, requirements and availability of resources such as freshwater, impact on forests, fauna and flora and local eco-systems, potential for accidents and mishaps, waste separation, storage and disposal, hazards from transportation of nuclear materials, and risks to public and planned measures to mitigate these. The definition of potentially affected population by nuclear mishaps must be severely revised in the light of the catastrophic accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima.
  • Veto power must be entrusted to the local population as to whether they wish or not wish to have a nuclear installation or uranium mining or other related dangerous facilities to come up in their areas. Instead of the farce that currently takes place, there must be proper Jan Sunwais that are well advertised, organised by independent civil society bodies and open to participation and testimonies from all, be they ordinary civilians, concerned groups or experts.
  • A transparent safety review of the entire nuclear sector be carried out by independent experts. Periodic safety reviews of existing nuclear facilities and mining sites must be carried out by independent experts.
  • The authorities should facilitate long-term and medium-term health studies near these facilities by independent health experts and their findings must be publicised by the government. A citizens-based network for radiation monitoring near nuclear facilities should be created and financed out of a public fund expressly created for that purpose.
  • Independent health inspection of nuclear workers should be carried out periodically and the results be made public. No contract worker should be employed in the nuclear sector because their health condition cannot be properly monitored.
  • The government must immediately bring forth new legislation to replace the 1962 Atomic Energy Act to maximise the transparency of functioning and public accountability of the nuclear programme , with full public participation in decision-making.
  • The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has failed to perform its mandate and violates its own norms. It must be immediately made completely independent of the DAE and staffed by senior personnel known for their public probity and independence of mind who can be trusted to be completely impartial in their supervision. Furthermore, its budget provisions should come through the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • The Right to Information Act must be made fully applicable to all aspects pertaining to the existence and development of the civilian nuclear energy sector so that the government cannot claim secrecy in the name of security considerations and thereby hide relevant information.
  • Emergency plans for disaster management which include procedures for mass evacuation must be publicly discussed and examined and approved by the representative bodies of those likely to be affected. The government must establish with full local participation the practical mechanisms, structures and practices for rapid and effective evacuation along with initial— and periodic — trials runs to ensure the reliability of such evacuation procedures in case of accidents.
  • The present Nuclear (Civil Liability) Act 2010 is not based on the moral and legal principle of absolute liability in case of accidents and must be suitably amended. Moreover, any attempts to further dilute the Act by formulating Rules calculated to artificially restrict and limit the suppliers’ liability must be dropped.
  • The goverment must immediately provide health facilities and adequate compensation to all victims of radiation sickness living around India’s nuclear installations. The government presently does not even acknowledge these health effects.
  • The government must immediately and unconditionally withdraw all charges of sedition and other false allegations against people protesting against nuclear projects. In the specific case of Koodankulam, the Supreme Court has directed the witdrawal of all charges against protesters which the Tamil Nadu government has refused to do.

 

Given these infirmities of nuclear energy, it is imperative to prepare a comprehensive alternative energy policy based on principles of equity, environmental sustainability and affordability, and on conventional and non-conventional energy resources, including solar, wind, small hydro, etc. This is the least that the government owes to the Indian public. The nuclear energy fuel cycle is too important a matter to be left only in the hands of scientists, bureaucrats, industrialists and politicians.


 

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Letter From The Women of Idinthakarai #mustread #Vaw #Womenrights

 

By Sisters of Idinthakarai

19 July, 2013

From
The Women of Idinthakarai
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy
Idinthakarai
Thirunelveli Dist
Tamil Nadu

Dear Sisters,

We hope that this letter finds you well – in the “pink of health”as a woman officer in Mumbai working with the National Power Corporation of India Limited wrote in response to the dangers of Nuclear Power Plants.For her, nuclear power plants creates a condition that “improves and enhances health and human welfare”.

So here we are less than 2 kilometres away from the ill—famous Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant gearing ourselves up to enter a new phase of health, prosperity and luxury. So please do consider shifting your summer cottages and villas here as real estate lobbies are offering spaces for you to live in style. No avalanches or deluges to be scared of. Only daily dosages of a few becquerels of radioactivity that will spew out invisible from the yellow domes so close. The lady officer even vouches that the radiation dose you get from consuming a banana a day is more than what you would be exposed to staying in the vicinity of a Nuclear power Plant. So we welcome all to either shift here and enjoy perfect health or turn Koodankulam and its surroundings into a Health Tourism location along with Power generation.

Our anxieties about the safety of the location seem misplaced too. The lady officer speaks with the authority and expertise of a geologist when she explains that during the Tsunami of 2004 when an earthquake of magnitude 9.2 struck the Tamil Nadu coast, this region was spared as it is a low seismic zone. But how did the actual inhabitants like us lose 450 of our tiny homes in the rising waves including our fishing gear? Why did the Lourde Mother Church which has been our refuge for the past 700 days during the anti-nuclear struggle have to give shelter to us then too? Why is the colony of houses closest to the Nuclear Power Plant now get the name Tsunami Rehabilitation Colony? Maybe because this name sounds better than just CASA colony.

We are still more worried about the impact of the Nuclear Power plant on the oceans and its temperature along with fish catch which will impact on our life and livelihood.But the lady officer who explains that the MAPS and TAPS located near the seashore has not created any changes in the fish wealth nor does it increase the temperature of the sea enough to cause damage. We are relieved that she did not say that a rise in a few degree centigrade will increase the prawn and fish catch that has been our lifeline for years. But the “bountiful fish” catch near the coast in the 2 above mentioned areas is worth analyzing.
We are honoured to have acquainted with a lady officer who is not only an expert on nuclear energy but is also an advisor on health, geology and marine biology and ecology.

So here we are back to square one. This we know for sure, in spite of all the general and vague assurances that have been given. We realize that none of our questions have been answered properly, to our conviction. We have not been part of any safety drill or preparedness before a Nuclear Power Plant of this magnitude goes critical. We have not been to a Public hearing that gives Environmental clearance to a Project that will certainly have an impact.

So we continue as before with the Porattam for life and safety. Because nothing has changed for us except the big news that the Plant will be operational soon. The other day all of us mimed death on the roads and pavements of our village through a Death Struggle. The little ones with their eyes wide open lay in the laps of their mothers or grandmothers hugging the Earth. It was a new experience to lie as if dead because for us the opening of the Nuclear Power Plant is like issuing a Death Warrant. The menfolk have decided to boycott fishing in protect to this national negligence to our right to live.

Please do not think we have accepted the decision and succumbed. We will continue raising our voices and asking crucial questions. We do not believe that this Nuclear Power Plant will bring power and prosperity to this region or our nation. We think of the people in Mithirvidi, Kovavada and other parts of India whose struggle against Nuclear Power Parks have only just begun.While extending support to all of them, we are determined to share the experiences that we have gained.

Please think of us and come visit us when you can.Remember the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant is gaining momentum and not dying.It is not and will never be a losing battle. Because it has raised the real questions on justice and human welfare.

Do be with us

Sisters of Idinthakarai

(For letter from lady officer at NPCIL contact Anitha.S at [email protected])

Photos: Antony Kebiston from Idintakarai village

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CNDP Statement on Koodankulam Reaching Criticality

English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

English: Internationally recognized symbol. Deutsch: Gefahrensymbol für Radioaktivität. Image:Radioactive.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In a shocking development, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd has announced that the first nuclear reactor at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu has reached criticality, or the beginning of a fission chain reaction.

This is an important step in the plant’s commissioning and towards making the fission process irreversible. But it violates the spirit of the Supreme Court’s May 6 order, which asked that NPCIL, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board “oversee each and every aspect of the matter, including the safety of the plant, impact on environment, quality of various components and systems in the plant before commissioning of the plant. A report to that effect be filed before this Court” prior to its commissioning.

Implicit in the order is not just the formal filing of such a report, but its perusal and approval by the Supreme Court. However, the agencies concerned merely filed the report in a sealed envelope, but the Court confirmed on July 15 that it has not even seen, let alone approve, the report.

This is part of a pattern followed by the nuclear establishment in cutting corners and bypassing essential procedures in matters of safety. It amounts to a breach of public trust, ans shows contempt for democratic and judicial processes.

The Koodankulam reactor was made critical despite the massive and sustained peaceful popular protests against the plant, and despite numerous warnings by nuclear experts, including former AERB chairman A Gopalakrishnan, about the plant’s vulnerability to hazards and the use of substandard equipment supplied by Russian company Zio-Podolsk.

This is profoundly anti-democratic and totally unacceptable. Ironically, the Koodankulam reactor reached criticality on the same day that China bowed to public protest by announcing the abandonment of a nuclear processing project in the Southeast.

We demand that the commissioning of the Koodankulam reactor be immediately halted and an independent safety review be initiated at the earliest into the plant.

The authorities must revoke the criminal charges filed against the protesters in Koodankulam with immediate effect in keeping with the Supreme Court’s order.

Achin Vanaik
Praful Bidwai
Lalita Ramdas
Abey George
P K Sundaram

 

 

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URGENT ALERT: Koodankulam to be critical tonight, let’s rise in protest

death of democracyIn utter disregard for the SC orders AERB/NPCIL have started the commissioning process and have announced attainment of criticality in the next few hours even before the judges have opened the sealed cover and read the Report. God alone knows what is in the Report because everything is being done in utter secrecy with the intention of presenting fait accompli to the SC!

Please see the Link.

This has caused huge consternation and fear among the population living near KKNPP including those in Kanyakumari, which is about 18 kms away as the crow flies. They even talk of their possible death and destruction in the near future. By Dr. Srinivasan’s own admission Control & Instrumentation system is yet to be tested. According to Dr. Gopalakrishnan, doing so after attaining criticality could be extremely risky because the proper functioning of these systems is most essentiall for preventing accidents and ensuring ‘public safety’ on which SC had laid huge emphasis.

The question now being asked are:

1. Whether project affected people have to spend the rest of their lives staring death at its face?

2. Is this what the Constitution guarantees for the citizens of this country?

3. What is the SC for-safeguarding fundamental rights of life and livelihood of citizens or serenading ‘nuclear power for development’?

 

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/an-open-letter-to-the-media-houses-in-india/" target="_blank">An Open Letter to the Media houses in India!
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/outrage-over-safety-issues-at-indian-nuke-plant/" target="_blank">Outrage Over Safety Issues at Indian Nuke Plant
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/india-flaws-in-koodankulam-nuclear-power-plant/" target="_blank"> #India – Flaws in Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/indias-21st-nuclear-reactor-at-koodankulam-starts-fission-wtfnews/" target="_blank">India’s 21st nuclear reactor at Koodankulam starts fission #WTFnews

 

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#India- Religious and education sectors get biggest foreign funding #FCRA

Love is my religion

Religious and education institutions are among the highest recipients of foreign funding, an apex body of voluntary organisations today claimed.

In its study report on ‘Status of the Voluntary Sector in India‘, which was released here, Voluntary Action Network of India (VANI) also alleged that instead of creating an enabling environment for the sector, the government was tightening its noose on voluntary organisations under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

“Nearly 19 per cent (Rs 1276.56 crore) of the foreign funds are pumped into education sector and religious bodies.

“We were told by the government that money to the tune of Rs 10,500 crore were entering India in this sector.

“We have been asking for the details but it is only in the last two years that we have had the detailed report from them and it clearly reveals who is getting the major funding from abroad,” VANI CEO Harsh Jaitli said.

“It is the religious bodies like mutts, dharamshalas, churches, religious foundations, corporate foundations, private schools hospitals etc, which are getting the major fund,” Jaitli claimed.

He also claimed that the government is tightening its grip on voluntary organisation as more than 4000 organisations got their registrations cancelled.

“We were told by the FCRA department this was an effort to weed out the dormant and inactive FCRA registered organisations, or on account of non-submission of returns, change of address and not updating the same with the department concerned, or no reasonable activities in the last couple of years but things got caught up in bureaucracy and voluntary organisations suffered on their account,” he said.

On VANI’s official website, the updated cancelled list of 4138 NGOs shows Tamil Nadu with the maximum number of cancellations at 794, followed by Andhra Pradesh (670), Kerala (450) and Maharashtra (352).

VANI officials ascribed the rise in Tamil Nadu figures to the NGOs protesting against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in the state.

“Voluntary organisations and NGOs which worked against corruption, nuclear issues and human rights violations are the worst sufferers, take what happened in the aftermath of the Koodankulam protests in Tamil Nadu,” co-chairperson Farida Vahedi said.

As least four NGOs were booked under FCRA for allegedly diverting foreign funds to aid the organisation of protests against the Koodankulam plant. Their bank accounts were frozen, the report said.

Source – agencies

 

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#India – Flaws in Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant

By A Gopalakrishnan

19th June 2013 07:23 AM

The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu is owned and will be operated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is to oversee and regulate nuclear safety, while the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) also have well-defined regulatory roles to play in non-nuclear safety aspects.

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) reviewed previous lower court judgements and heard fresh affidavits on issues of KKNPP safety. In its final judgment on May 6, 2013, the SC directed AERB, NPCIL, MoEF and TNPCB to (collectively) oversee each and every aspect, including safety of the plant, its impact on environment and the quality of various components and systems in the plant, before commissioning it. The SC has also directed that a (joint) report to that effect be filed before it prior to commissioning of the plant.

To understand the overall problems in their right perspective, one has to see how the total project responsibility at KKNPP is shared between India and Russia. Under the 1998 inter-governmental supplementary agreement, the Russians are to provide the reactor designs and supply the major equipment. The instrumentation and control (I&C) design package, including installation details, were also to come from Russia. The NPCIL and its Indian contractors would build the reactors, but a small team of Russian specialists (“advisers”) would stay at the site to render technical assistance at all stages of construction, in the installation of reactor equipment and in the commissioning and operation of the reactors, until NPCIL takes over.

KKNPP reactors are pressurised water reactors (PWRs) of the Russian VVER type, of 1000 MWe rating. The past Indian experience is entirely on pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs), India having built only a very small PWR for a submarine which is yet to be started. The PHWRs are technologically very different from the VVER-1000 reactors, and the Russians have designed and built more than 20 of them. The experience gained over the years by Indian contractors who have steadily worked with NPCIL is also limited to PHWRs. Therefore, it is certainly foolhardy for India to insist that KKNPP Units 1 & 2 shall be built under the above division of responsibilities. The reasons for doing so have been the minimisation of cost and an overconfident estimation of NPCIL’s capabilities, combined with a lack of appreciation of the technological finesse required to build a large and complicated PWR for the first time. The problems described in this article can be primarily attributed to this fatal error in project formulation.

Besides the probable installation of substandard parts in KKNPP reactors due to laxity of quality control, it is now evident that another major safety issue related to the I&C systems is worrying the KKNPP management and the AERB, because of which the Unit 1 start-up is now postponed to July 2013. This inference is reached by piecing together information now available in the public domain. The problem, to put it simply, appears to be the inability to eliminate spurious signals of untraced origin appearing in many of the instrumentation cables of paramount importance to safety, like the reactor neutron chamber output lines, wiring of the safety and shut-off rod control systems, etc.

Such phenomena belong to a broad class of problems known as Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI). A very rudimentary example of EMI, for instance, is that of a power-carrying, unshielded cable that would generate a surrounding electro-magnetic field, that in turn could induce a voltage/current in a nearby instrumentation or control cable. This spurious input can add to or subtract from the “real” signals, thereby sending erroneous control inputs to a variety of crucial safety systems, possibly leading to unpredictable and serious malfunctions or accidents.

EMI in nuclear plants can be totally avoided by following modern I&C system design and installation norms. (See, for example, “Modern I&C for Nuclear Power Plants”, IAEA, 1999). In particular, obtaining a sound, interference-free transmission of electrical signals between various parts of a nuclear system demands careful attention to cable laying and routing as well as earthing, and requires that specific rules in this regard are strictly followed. The Russian “advisers” on site seem to have earlier indicated to the Indians that most of the VVERs which they have commissioned have used strict Russian standards like GOST 50746-2000, called the National Standard of the Russian Federation for Electro-magnetic Compatibility (EMC) of equipment for nuclear power plants (Requirements and Test Methods), which is available at: http://files.stroyinf.ru/Data1/41/41348/. However, the sequential history of KNPP events do not show that such care was taken in implementation of I&C systems by NPCIL and their contractors.

The cable problems at Koodankulam have a long history. Glimpses of this can be seen from the past annual reports of the AERB. The 2009-2010 AERB report states the regulators were “informed (by NPCIL) that new cable routes have been created to take care of additional cables required for normal operation of the plant, as these were not accounted for in the earlier design”. AERB’s 2010-2011 annual report states that “NPCIL was asked to submit detailed response to various observations made on cable layout — along with justifications for deviations from established methods of laying of cables and alternative measures to meet any exigencies”. Interestingly, the 2011-2012 annual report is totally silent about the follow-up actions taken in this matter.

Around the same time, a telling PTI report on the KKNPP cable problem appeared on July 20, 2011, in Indian newspapers. In part it said (http://ibnlive.in.com/news/tn-kudankulam-nplant-to-achieve-criticality/168957-3.html), “But the observation that several cables were missing, to be incorporated by designers in the reactor almost towards completion of the plant (2009-2010), could not be explained… The designers discovered that several kilometres of power and control cables in the reactor were ‘missed’ after the completion of the double containment of the reactor… A year ago, a major operation had to be undertaken to incorporate the ‘missing’ cables by making new opening in the containment domes (breaking open the concrete walls and its steel liner) and sealing it again after bringing the cables from the switch yard to inside”. One wonders how such a serious error was committed by the NPCIL engineers and their contractors!

This exposes a serious difference in the ethics of doing project site work between the Russians and Indians. Russians are very well-organised and systematic, and they rigidly follow the rules and expect others also to do so. While Indians, too, have rules and regulations on paper, to expedite work or to minimise cost, they would not hesitate to bend or break rules. In case of the I&C design and installation details, the Russians had prepared detailed documentation including hundreds of drawings, which they expected the Indian installers to follow diligently, in the interest of performance and safety. The World Nuclear Association has reported that KKNPP control system documentation was delivered late by the Russians and, when reviewed (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-G-N/India/#.Ub7fWPkzjAs) by NPCIL, it showed up the need for significant refining and even reworking of some aspects. This was necessitated because, while waiting for details to arrive from Russia, the NPCIL team had proceeded on with the I&C work based on their PHWR experience, little realising that the PWR/VVER requirements contained in the Russian documents would be significantly different. In doing re-work and rectification of the PHWR-based work, the NPCIL team is unlikely to have come close to meeting the Russian design intent or conformed to the installation documents received from them. The origin of the present problem lies in this massive installation error of the NPCIL.

In 2004, the then KKNPP station director told Frontline (http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=flonnet&rdurl=fl2108/fl210800.htm) that “difficulty arose with working documentation, which was to arrive from the Russian designers. But I shall not blame the Russians, there was pressure on them to advance their drawings and documents.” He went on to say, “When you want to speed up…you have to take certain decisions even if the input data are not available. As a designer and an engineer, you have to assume those data and go ahead.” It is this daredevil approach of the NPCIL site engineers and their contractors which has landed the KKNPP in the present mess.

It is most likely that the KKNPP cable system, as completed today, has not conformed to the norms and standards of cable selection, EMI shielding, or layout as per Russian, Indian or any other standards. No wonder the EMI problem is persisting, because there is no other short-cut solution other than re-doing a sizeable part of the I&C cabling and its layout in accordance with a set of modern standards, agreeable also to the Russians. This may take several more months and extensive re-working, but this must be done in the interest of public safety. As directed by the SC, the group consisting of NPCIL, AERB, MoEF and TNPCB must certainly find an acceptable resolution of this problem and include it in their report to the apex court.

A Gopalakrishnan is a former Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.

 

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An Open Letter to the Media houses in India!

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

 

The Struggle Committee                                                                     June 16, 2013
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District
Dear friends:
Greetings! Please allow us to bring the following to your kind attention in the larger interests of our country, people and most importantly, our democracy and freedom. As the Fourth Pillar of our democracy, the media in India plays an important role in the smooth running of our country and the perpetuation of our democratic heritage.
We are sure that you have noticed the postponement of the commissioning of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) to July 2013 without giving any reasons or explanations. It is really so disappointing and upsetting why no print or visual media in our country asks the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) or its Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) about this. There has not been one single editorial in any Indian newspaper or an informed debate on any TV debate on the repeated postponement of the KKNPP commission since 2005. Don’t the people of India need to know the reasons behind this constant postponement and continued ducking and dodging by the prime minister, central ministers, chief minister, and nuclear officials?
We have been crying from the roof top that there has been massive corruption in the KKNPP and shoddy, substandard components and spares have been used in the project, but no mediahouse in India has shown any interest to probe this issue further. Most of the northern Indian mediahouses have not even shown any interest in the Koodankulam issue as if we were not part of India.
Although we cannot complain about the media coverage of our various struggles and campaigns here in Tamil Nadu both in the Tamil and the English media, a few irresponsible mediahouses have been portraying a very negative picture of our movement because of their connection with the nuclear industry, or their “higher caste” bias, or for cheap monetary gains. They go for sensationalism, profiteering, and unprincipled and unprofessional reporting. We would also like to point out that there have been good reports and analysis about the KKNPP issue but there is hardly any incisive inquiry into the commissions and omissions of the Indian nuclear industry in the larger media. Also many mediahouses in India tend to fall silent when power centers frown at them, or twist their arms.
As a result of the gross failure of the Fourth Pillar in our democracy, criminals wander about as leaders; ‘Merchants of Venice’ dominate the economic affairs; and all-knowing-scientists and engineers adopt an anti-people attitude in their mega-development projects. Consequently, there is rampant corruption, inefficiency, wastefulness, depression, inflation, regress, and overall moral decay all over the country.
Hence it is high time we undertook a thorough and comprehensive soul-search about the duties and responsibilities of the media in India. The Koodankulam struggle can be a cornerstone for undertaking this analysis.
We would earnestly request you to do a review of your own mediahouse’s policies and practices and see if you feel and write for the “ordinary citizens” of India or for the vested interests of our country and the world. We enclose a write-up pointing out the salient features of the crippled KKNPP that deserves national attention and nation-wide debate. If the Indian mediahouses fail to do this, all the Neo-East India Companies from the United States, Russia, France and everywhere else will come to dominate our socioeconomic-political affairs and enslave us all over again.
Looking forward to your careful consideration of our letter and favorable actions, we send you our best personal regards and all peaceful wishes,
Cordially,
S. P. Udayakumar       M. Pushparayan          F. Jayakumar               M. P. Jesuraj
Coordinator
R. S. Muhilan              Peter Milton                V. Rajalingam             Ms. S. Lidwin
Please allow us to bring the following dangerous developments, difficulties and discrepancies in the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP) to your kind consideration and request your immediate intervention to expose the irregularities and improprieties in the nuclear energy sector in India and save the people from massive disasters:
[1] Shoddy and Substandard Equipment from ZiO-Podolsk, Informtech Etc.
First and the most important of all, the KKNPP has been constructed with substandard equipment and parts supplied by ZiO-Podolsk, an engineering subsidiary of the Russian company Rosatom. The company’s official website has declared unequivocally: “Over the past few years ZiO produced and implemented a set of equipment for foreign nuclear power plants with VVER-1000: Tianwan (China), Busher (Iran), Kudankulam (India)” (http://aozio.ru/production/ob-atom/). ZiO-Podolsk began shipping shoddy equipment in 2007 or perhaps even earlier. In February 2012, the procurement director, Mr. Sergei Shutov, was arrested for buying low quality and cheap raw material, passing it off as more expensive grade and pocketing the difference. The Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, has been investigating the case that has serious implications for the safety of nuclear power plants built by Russia.
During July 15-18, 2012, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) delegation that included Special Secretary Mr. A. P. Joshi, Deputy Secretary Mr. Ninian Kumar and the Manager of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Mr. Dzhogesh Pady visited ZiO-Podolsk and discussed a range of issues related to the preparation for the launch of KKNPP-1, the progress of the KKNPP-2 etc. and signed a number of contracts relating to the implementation of the current phase of the KKNPP. (AtomEnergoMash, Posted 19.07.2012).
However, when we asked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) under RTI on January 28, 2013 for “a list of those equipment and parts that have been supplied by Zio-Podolsk to the KKNPP units,” the NPCIL replied tersely on February 20, 2013 (No. NPCIL/VSB/CPIO/2460/HQ/2013/371): “No Information regarding any investigation against Zio-Podolsk is available to NPCIL.” It is a gross untruth and deception because the top DAE officials had just visited the ZiO-Podolsk and they must have followed up the developments. The NPCIL is hiding serious and important information from the Indian public and misleading the entire nation possibly to protect some Russian and Indian middlemen and profiteers.
When we asked the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on January 28, 2013 for “a list of those equipment and parts that have been supplied by Zio-Podolsk to the KKNPP units” they responded on February 12, 2013 (No. AERB/RSD/RTI/Appl. No. 329/2013/2421) very evasively: “Selection of a company for supplying any equipment to NPCIL, is not under the purview of AERB. However, with respect to Quality Assurance (QA) during design, construction, commissioning and operation, a set of well established AERB documents on QA Codes and Guides are published and they were followed during the safety review of KKNPP.”
Later the NPCIL confirmed officially (in its letter No. NPCIL/VSB/CPIO/2574/KKNPP/2013/737 dated April 29, 2013) that the controversial and corruption-ridden M/S ZiO Podolsk has supplied the following equipment and parts to the KKNPP: “Steam Generators, Cation and anion filters, Mechanical Filter, Moisture Separator and Reheater, Boric solution storage tanks, Regenerative blow down heat exchanger, Pipelines and fittings of different systems, Insulation materials, PHRS Heat exchanger.” In other words, the Koodankulam project in its entirety is unsafe and dangerous.
Another Russian court has convicted one Mr. Alexander Murach, Director of another notorious Russian company, Informtech, for fraud and sentenced him to three years in prison for selling counterfeit measuring equipment for nuclear and hydro power plants’ turbines. The NPCIL has just confirmed in its letter dated May 24, 2013 (No. NPCIL/VSB/CPIO/2670/HQ/2013/884) that they have received “Communication equipment” from Informtech.
Some ten Czech and Slovak companies have also supplied valves, pumps and cables to the Koodankulam project. Leoš Tomíček, Executive Vice-president of Rusatom Overseas says: “We already work with Czechs today. For example, for two blocks of the Indian Koodankulam nuclear power plant, nine Czech companies supplied us with valves, pumps, cables and other equipment worth 58 million dollars.” There have been many cable-related accidents and deaths at the KKNPP. T. S. Subramanian says in a 2009 article: “Cabling is under way in the state-of-the-art control room for Unit-1, which is akin to an aircraft’s cockpit. M.I. Joy, Additional Chief Engineer (Site Planning), KKNPP, said, “Once the cabling is completed, the entire control of the plant, including the reactor and turbine, will be done from the control room.” The plant’s control room is humidity-controlled. “The atmosphere is so pure here that the cables will not be spoiled,” said Joy.
(http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=flonnet&rdurl=fl2616/stories/20090814261612). It is this “so pure” atmosphere that has killed six workers in the past three months in electrocution accidents. The quality of the Czech cables and the checkered electrical work, and the role of Mr. M. I. Joy in all these are important questions must be looked into.
Since shoddy and substandard equipment and parts in a massive nuclear power park pose enormous dangers of epic proportion to millions and millions of innocent people in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and elsewhere, this issue has to be thoroughly and comprehensively probed in collaboration with the officials of Rosatom, Atomstroyexport, Federal Security Service (FSB) and most importantly, with independent nuclear experts in India.
[2] The Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) Lies!
Izhorskiye Zavody, which is part of United Machinery Plants (OMZ) holding, signed a contract with India for the construction of two nuclear reactor bodies for Kudankulam’s station in 2002. They shipped a new nuclear reactor body that would be the first power unit of India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant to the city’s sea port. Yevgeny Sergeyev, general director of Izhorskiye Zavody, said at a ceremony sending off the reactor: “We were so sure of our partners that we started to produce the first reactor bodies four months before the official contract was signed.” Sergeyev said the reactor was completed six months before deadline (The St Petersburg Times, 19 November 2004,http://sptimes.ru/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=2135).
The Koodankulam reactor pressure vessel (RPV) arrived at the Tuticorin Port in January 2004. The first unit of the power plant was expected to be synchronized in December 2007, and the second unit by December 2008. Mr. S. K. Aggarwal, the then project director said: “The project officials have targeted to complete the works for synchronisation of both the units in March and September 2007 respectively.”
The Russian Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision, Rostekhnadzor, claimed in 2009: “The main causes of violations in the NPP construction works are insufficient qualifications, and the personnel’s meagre (sic) knowledge of federal norms and rules, design documentation, and of the technological processes of equipment manufacturing. In particular, the top management of Izhorskiye Zavody have been advised of the low quality of the enterprise’s products and have been warned that sanctions might be enforced, up to suspending the enterprise’s equipment production licence”
(http://www.gosnadzor.ru/osnovnaya_deyatelnost_slujby/otcheti-o-deyatelnosti-sluzhbi-godovie/). Unlike the original design of the Koodankulam RPVs, the erected ones have beltline welds, questionable quality and corruption charges.
[3] Fiddling with the Reactor Design and Doing an Unauthorized Refit
When the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)’s dialogue with the Central Government’s Expert Group got aborted due to the violent attack on us by some anti-social elements, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister appointed a team of four members to study the KKNPP issue. When that group included Dr. M. R. Srinivasan, the former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), we objected to his inclusion in the team. However, he continued to be part of the team and we did have a dialogue with the team on February 19, 2012 in Tirunelveli.
During our interaction that was held in the presence of the Tirunelveli District Collector and other officials, Dr. Srinivasan never mentioned once that the DAE had made changes in the core of the reactor. It is also not revealed to the public until now if he and the team included this unauthorized fiddling in the report they submitted to the CM. However, Dr. Srinivasan has publicly acknowledged now: “We sought an additional safety mechanism well before the Fukushima disaster. The safety mechanism consists of valves. The original reactor design had to be altered and I feel this is the basic cause for delay.” According to him, the valves were designed partially in India and Russia and compatibility with the reactor led to some hiccups (http://newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/article1517314.ece).
After fiddling with the original design of the KKNPP reactors, the Indian authorities went back and did an unauthorized “refit” without revealing the details to anyone. All these things point out the inherent deficiencies of the Russian reactors, their vulnerability due to all the fiddling, and their untrustworthiness after the refit. Since this matter has to do with the lives and sustenance of millions and millions of people, all the relevant details must be made public.
[4] Blaming the Protests for Atomic Inefficiency and Inept Engineering
The Russian and the Indian nuclear authorities are hiding their corruption, wastefulness and inefficiency by conveniently blaming the struggling people for all the delay and cost overrun. The Indian Express newspaper asserts that the “delay is on the supply side from Russia as a whole lot of components have been replaced, some of which had to be shipped in.” The KKNPP sources have also confessed that the “containment vessel of the nuclear core too has been changed since the old one had sprung a leak, which was detected three months ago during testing” (http://newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/article1517314.ece).
The KKNPP authorities claim that “most components meant for Unit-II that were already in the warehouse were used as replacements for Unit-I.” It is not clear why they were kept in the warehouse since Unit 2 was also being concurrently constructed along with Unit 1. The nuclear authorities are hiding the plain truth that Unit 1 is a complete failure and hence they are trying to revive it with the parts of Unit 2. Nobody knows the total loss that India has suffered because of all these shifting and shuffling.
The Srinivasan-confessed “refit” of KKNPP-1 is being blamed on its “idling for months together because of a major agitation plus litigation in the Supreme Court.” This is an outrageous falsehood! Even when our agitation was going on between September 2011 and March 2012, regular and full-swing maintenance work was going on at the Koodankulam plant on a daily basis. When the Tamil Nadu government changed its stand on our agitation on March 19, 2012 and pushed us to the village of Idinthakarai, the Site Director of KKNPP Reactors I and II, Mr. R.S. Sundar, said the “water chemistry” of the water being used in the coolant was encouraging as proper maintenance had been carried out with skeletal staff during the protests (P. Sudhakar, “Croatian experts to inspect the condition of equipment,” The Hindu, March 23, 2012).
Mr. S. T. Arasu, Senior Maintenance Engineer at KKNPP said: “We have operated all the pumps to measure the vibration level, which is less than the desirable baseline data and it shows the quality of our skilled workforce. Though this section could not be given complete attention during the past five-and-a-half months, the equipment are functioning in an amazing fashion” (P. Sudhakar, “Employees at Kudankulam project site a charged lot,” The Hindu, March 24, 2012).
Mr. Yevgeniy N. Dudkin, the head of the Russian Specialists Group, said that none of the Russian specialists of Atomstroyexport had left the project site during the protests. He pointed out that some additional works needed to be done and said, “It is not a huge work.” (P. Sudhakar and S. Sundar, “Primary coolant pumps to undergo another trial,” The Hindu, March 29, 2012.)
Similarly, when the Supreme Court began its hearing on a batch of petitions in September 2012, they refused to give a ‘stay’ to halt the ongoing work at KKNPP and allowed the authorities to continue with their work. Accordingly, the AERB allowed fuel loading in September 2012 dismissing the feelings and sentiments of millions of struggling people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Now the Supreme Court has given a green signal to run the project subject to 15 stringent recommendations.
But the KKNPP, NPCIL, AERB, and the DAE officials are conveniently blaming their inordinate delay in commissioning the KKNPP-1 on the “corrosion and leakage since sea water was used as the coolant.” If the pipes leak and corrode within such a short time, the government should order a probe into the quality of these pipes, the quality of the various equipment and spares that were sent by the Russians. If these pipes and parts cannot withstand one year of sea water circulation, how are they going to function safely for 40-60 years?
[5] Mounting Costs and Massive Corruption
Every single deal that India has signed with Russia has proved to be a disaster and big loss for India. The INS Vikramaditya/Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier has been delayed by five years with the final cost hovering in the $2.9 billion range. The time overrun and cost escalation also plagues another mega Indo-Russian defense deal of upgrading MiG-29 fighter planes. The KKNPP is yet another disaster.
The approved cost of the KKNPP 1 & 2 project is Rs. 13,171 crores. But the DAE and the NPCIL claim that they have spent an additional amount of Rs. 4,000 crores on the non-performing project. Nobody knows the exact end cost of the KKNPP or the breakdown of the final amount. The former AERB Chief, Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, has claimed that the decision to import 40,000 MW capacity Light Water Reactors (LWRs) in early 2006 was taken without any techno-economic evaluation by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) or any other agency. According to Dr. Gopalakrishnan, “The decisions, price negotiations and supply terms are being negotiated by the UPA- 2 government in haste, with the intention of fulfilling the PM’s commitments to these foreign governments and their companies before he demits office. .The decision was merely a quid-pro-quo to give business to the reactor manufacturers in those countries which helped India get a Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) waiver” (DNA, February 16, 2013).
The Russian nuclear company, Atomstroyexport, has just released its financial statement for the year 2011. The company claims that losses in 2011 were twice bigger than the losses of 2010, and that the company is on the brink of bankruptcy. This has seriously affected the Russian nuclear projects at Koodankulam in India and Busher in Iran <http://www.interfax.ru/business/txt.asp?id=283928>. We wonder if the Indian government is secretly helping the Russian company with its losses and bankruptcy.
The NPCIL authorities have claimed that the Rs.4,000 crores cost overrun at Koodankulam is due to the “increase in interest during construction (IDC), escalation on works, contractor’s overheads and establishment charges” (RTI reply dated February 20, 2013). It is pertinent to note that the Russian government is not making such financial compensation to India for all the delay and cost overrun in all of the above projects.
Instead of explaining these mounting costs and massive irregularities, the Russian Ambassador to India Mr. Alexander Kadakin simply misleads Indians by unnecessary and unacceptable comments on our internal affairs. We wonder if the Indian nuclear establishment is secretly helping the Russian company with its losses and bankruptcy.  We wonder if the Koodankulam financial irregularities involve both Indian and Russian nuclearocrats, diplomats and politicians.
[6] Commissioning the KKNPP Every 15 Days
Instead of reporting to the citizens of India inside India about the largest and imported nuclear power park at Koodankulam, the Prime Minister of India goes to South Africa and reassures the President of Russia of its commissioning process (no pun intended). When the Prime Minister had announced in Moscow that the KKNPP would be commissioned “in a couple of weeks” on December 15, 2011, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister expressed her dissent and displeasure immediately.
The calendar for commissioning of KKNPP-1 has been shifted some 20 times in the past one year by politicians, bureaucrats and the nuclear authorities. In fact, this “commission dating” process has been going on from 2005 onwards and the Union Minister of State, Mr. V. Narayanasamy has set a record of sorts for himself in this calculated and irresponsible misinformation campaign. All these people have been lyingto the nation repeatedly and recklessly and hence we cannot trust these authorities with our and our families’ safety and well-being. If there is any truth and decorum in public life in India, all these officials should resign from their respective posts.
[7] No Information, No Liability, No Pollution Safeguard
The Government of India and the DAE have not shared any basic information with us about the KKNPP. Even after the Central Information Commission (CIC) has instructed them, they have not shared the Site Evaluation Report (SER) and the Safety Analysis Report (SAR) with us. They have not heard our opinions or allayed our fears and concerns about the lack of fresh water resources, the changes in the design of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV), the management of liquid and solid waste and so on.
Neither have the Indian nuclear authorities got any liability from the Russian government and/or companies for KKNPP 1 and 2. The Government of India is not even willing to share the secretive Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) that they signed with the Russian government in 2008. Even as we are dealing with KKNPP 1 and 2, the Government of India is announcing the agreement on KKNPP 3 and 4 with utter disregard for the sentiments of the local people and the people of Tamil Nadu as a whole.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has also given consent to discharge enormous amounts of sewage, trade effluent, desalination plant effluent, demineralization effluent, steam generator effluent, suspended solids, dissolved solids, and many other waste products into the sea. The TNPCB fixed the temperature of the effluents at the discharge point as 45 degrees and later summarily reduced it to 36 or 37 degrees. They have also allowed the KKNPP to release significant amounts of Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, particulate matters and many other harmful radioactive pollutants into the air. Nobody seems to bother about the impact of all these on the sea, sea food, crops, dairy, food security, nutrition, health and wellbeing of us, our children and grandchildren.
Furthermore, it is revealed now that the NPCIL does not hold valid and legitimate clearances for all the various buildings and installations in the KKNPP from the Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 2011.
[8] The Tamils Get Elegy and the Others Get Energy!
Even though the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has written to the Prime Minister on March 31, April 25 and August 19, 2012, demanding all the power from the KKNPP to Tamil Nadu, the Prime Minister or his PMO never even acknowledged those letters. Earlier the CM had demanded more power from the Central Pool and financial help for various power generation schemes, but the UPA government always ignored her genuine requests and earnest efforts.
If this is the way the UPA government treats the Chief Minister of an important State and popular leader of millions of Tamil people, one can possibly imagine the feelings and attitude they may have towards the poorest of the poor who have been struggling on our own for almost two years now. The Congress Party and the UPA government seem to have scant regards for the Tamil fishermen, Tamil women, and the Tamil people as a whole.
It is also strange that our neighboring states would not share the Nature-given river waters with us but we, the Tamil people, have to suffer nuclear waste, thermal pollution, saline refuse, and most importantly, nuclear radiation and give them all risk-free electricity. It is quite preposterous that the Congress government in Kerala stakes a claim for 500 MW from the KKNPP; in fact, the Congress governments in Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram can together decide to set up a few nuclear power plants somewhere in Kerala. The intelligent and Nature-loving people of Kerala would never allow that and the political parties there, whether Congress or Communists or BJP or others, would never let that happen also.
Given the above situation, may we request you to demand an inquiry into the construction, equipment, overall quality, performance and the viability of the entire Koodankulam nuclear power project; removal of the fuel rods from the core of the Unit 1 reactor; conversion of the KKNPP into a pro-people and Nature-friendly Model New Energy Park; bringing about renewable energy projects all over our country; rectifying the transmission and distribution issues, and protecting the interests and well-being of the Tamil people and our progeny please.
If we let this shoddy, substandard, unsafe, and corruption-ridden nuclear power project to go critical and fail in our collective historic duty to protect our people, preserve our Natural resources and prop up the interests of newborn and unborn generations of India, we all will be held responsible and answerable for all the upcoming calamities and uncalculable harms to our people.

 

 

 

 

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Kudankulam nuclear power plant : the unsettled queries

First Published: Wed, Jun 05 2013. livemint
On 6 May, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking to halt the commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear reactors in Tamil Nadu till the implementation of key additional safety measures recommended after the catastrophic Fukushima accident of 2011. The court’s argument was that the project is “part of the national policy” and it “is not for courts to determine whether a particular policy or a particular decision taken in fulfilment of a policy, is fair”. Regardless of one’s opinion about that assertion, what is disturbing about the judgement is that it ventured well beyond its brief and commented on areas that were outside its provenance.
The first set of comments relate to the idea that nuclear power is “an important element in India’s energy mix” and that the risks involved are justified by the benefits. For a source that constitutes 2.3% of India’s electricity generation capacity to be described as important is, of course, questionable. More to the point, this endorsement of nuclear power is at odds with the larger argument about courts not taking a stance on policies. If the apex court cannot weigh in on a policy decision, it’s in an even worse position to decide on India’s energy mix or if the expenditure so far justifies people having “to put up” with “minor inconveniences”, “minor radiological detriments” and “minor environmental detriments”.
In a second set of comments based on various documents and safety codes laid out by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the court “notice(d) that adequate and effective protection measures are in place”. The problem here is that the court’s confidence in the effectiveness of protection measures does not comport well with the actual performance of AERB, in particular its lack of independence and its inability, and perhaps its unwillingness, to force the Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd (NPCIL) to undertake stringent safety measures. The government’s efforts at constituting the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA), to “preserve the functional independence of the regulatory board”, is indicative of the problems with the setup.
The most pertinent illustration of AERB’s weaknesses is its actions on Kudankulam. Even though AERB committee set up following Fukushima “to review the safety of Indian NPPs (nuclear power plants) against external events of natural origin” came out with some sensible safety recommendations, when push came to shove, AERB permitted loading of fuel even though these recommendations had not been fully implemented in Kudankulam. None other than a former chairperson of AERB, A. Gopalakrishnan, has termed this decision “a total volte-face…and contrary to the spirit and recommendations of AERB post-Fukushima safety evaluation committee”. By endorsing NPCIL and AERB’s decisions, albeit with conditions, the apex court’s judgement might further entrench the lacunae in NPCIL’s safety culture (see the description in my recent book The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India).
Inexplicably, the court’s decision makes no mention of a devastating report from last year by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, the body mandated to “promote accountability, transparency and good governance”, on the subordinate legal status of AERB and its multiple failings to ensure safety of nuclear installations in the country. CAG observed that AERB had no effective independence from the department of atomic energy (DAE). Of the 3,200 recommendations by AERB’s safety review committee for operating plants, DAE and related organizations had not complied with 375, with 137 recommendations from 2004 or earlier.
The reliance on just the nuclear establishment’s testimony demonstrates myopia regarding a very basic matter—the lack of trust regarding AERB. The situation for any regulatory agency is like that of Pompeia, Julius Caesar’s wife, of whom, Caesar is supposed to have said, “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”. Public suspicion about AERB and its lack of independence is justifiably high. At least until the regulatory structure is completely overhauled, the court’s call for “safety standards in which public can have full confidence” cannot be fulfilled.
The chances of such a major overhaul are, unfortunately, slim. The proposed fix—replacing AERB with a new NSRA—won’t work. As currently envisioned, many of the key processes involving NSRA’s appointment, policy setting and budgetary allocation will continue to be controlled, in effect, by the Atomic Energy Commission. As CAG observed last year, the “fact that the chairman, AEC and the secretary, DAE are one and the same…negates the very essence of institutional separation of regulatory and non-regulatory functions”. Further, there is little nuclear expertise outside the DAE parivar to constitute an independent NSRA. Developing such expertise requires a decade or two of deliberate effort, which is so far missing.
For the reasons mentioned above and many more, the court’s decision cannot settle the contentious dispute over Kudankulam, or the larger questions about the expansion of nuclear energy in the country. That is still a matter for democratic debate. And all the familiar problems with nuclear energy—including high costs, susceptibility to catastrophic accidents, and the unsolved problem of dealing with radioactive waste—should play a role in that debate.

M.V. Ramana is with the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

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M. V. Ramana
The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India

 

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