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Rumours of dumping of nuke waste send shock waves

Kolar Gold Fields, Nov 21, 2012, DHNS: 0:45 IST
Rumours that waste from Koodankulam nuclear power plant near Chennai will be dumped at the gold mine pits here has sent shock waves in this town.

It is said that Solicitor General R Nariman submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the Central government has decided to use the pits at the KGF gold mines, which have long remained unused, as dumping yard for the waste created at the nuclear power plant at Koodankulam.

Nariman had added in the affidavit that the pits would be dug again, and concrete walls built on the sides of the tunnels to prevent leak of the nuclear rays.

Protest planned

Members of various organisations- both political and others- have planned to stage protests opposing the decision. The idea of the government that the mines would be a good waste disposal area as no mining activity is being carried out there is dangerous, they say.

Diwakar, leader of a union of Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML) workers, said the tunnels
in the mines are as long as 1,400 km and are interconnected. Several years of mining
have loosened the walls of the tunnels.

“The Central government, on the one hand, has assured us that the gold mines will be reopened. On the other hand, it is attempting to use the mines as dump yard for nuclear waste. This is a completely unscientific idea as well as immoral,” said Diwakar. “It is better to reopen and rejuvenate the gold mines,” he added.

Jayakumar, leader of another workers’ union, said a protest against the government decision would be staged on November 25.

“Hundreds of workers at the mines, who were exposed to the minerals there, have become victims of silicosis. Under such circumstances, how right would it be to dump uranium waste in the same area,” he asked.

In contrast, however, several office-bearers of the BGML were completely unaware of the government submitting the affidavit. There were also discussions on whether the Directorate General of Mine Safety had okayed the government choice of the mines as an appropriate place to dump the nuclear waste.

Additional Deputy Commissioner R S Peddappaiah, when contacted, said the district administration had given no information to the Central government on submission of the affidavit.

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