An environmental group has filed a fresh petition in the Madras high court seeking review on clearance for first Approach to Criticality. BS

With India’s 21st nuclear reactor at Kudankulam set to produce power in another two to three weeks, clearance by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has now hit a legal hurdle.

An environmental group filed a petition in the Madras High Court on Monday, seeking a review on the clearance for first approach to criticality of Unit-I of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project by AERB. The petition, to be heard on Tuesday, termed the AERB nod illegal as it did not comply with the 15 earlier directions of the apex court.

“The court had mentioned about the plant not being made operational unless the project was cleared by the AERB, Nuclear Power Corporation of India, environment ministry and department of atomic energy. The AERB report filed before the court has not yet been taken up for hearing. There was no awareness programme and neither did they withdraw the case against protestors,” said G Sundararajan of Friends of the Earth. Activists said no safety measures had been taken at Kudankulam. The 100-Mw Kudankulam plant achieved criticality on Saturday. AERB Chairman S S Bajaj said, “Every stage of work is being reviewed. After Fukushima, we had reviewed the safety aspects of all nuclear facilities in the country. All, including Kudankulam, are safe. We have asked for some additional upgradation of safety measures as well.”

According to AERB, FAC is the commencement of the controlled nuclear fission process for the first time and is a step towards the subsequent beginning of power production in a nuclear reactor. On the other hand, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which has completed 700 days of continuous protests against the project, has decided to up the ante against the project with power production set to happen in another 20 days time.
“They could have at least waited for the MoEF and NPCIL reports that are set to submitted before the SC. They have not valued the resistance of lakhs of people in the three affected districts. Even the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has given a clearance to the project, without taking stock of the ground situations or conducting any proper study other than a NEERI report,” said M Pushpanarayan, leader of PMANE.


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