Russian govt report fuelled TN nuclear plant row

Scientists refute Norway-based NGO's claim

The global environmental NGO, the Bellona Foundation, has reportedly leaked extracts from the Russian government report, which speaks of the VVER type reactors, imported for the Koodankulam nuclear power project, as being below par in that aspect.

The report has purportedly stated that at a “general level, the Russian reactors—imported in the Koodankulam plant—are under-prepared for both natural and man-made disasters, ranging from floods to fires, to earthquakes or plain negligence.”
Refuting these impressions, Sudhinder Thakur, a scientist at the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, which is building the Koodankulam plant with imported Russian light water reactors, has posted his views on the NPCIL website on Tuesday.

To a specific query on the report, Thakur said: “For Koodankulam, we have gone in for the Russian VVER 1,000 MW Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR). Apart from what the reactor offered in terms of safety features, we have incorporated additional ones which are being seen as landmark features. That apart, we also observe a sterilised zone in a radius of 5 km from the reactor site where existing settlements are allowed. And for a distance of 16 km from every reactor site, we draw up emergency evacuation plans, just in case.”

Stating that the post-Fukushima disaster situation “is still evolving”, he said: “We are monitoring it and are also in touch with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Association of Nuclear Operators. The purpose of a review is to understand what needs to be done immediately and what needs to be done on a long-term basis.”

Another nuclear scientist, refuting the NGO-leaked report’s claim, told Deccan Herald that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, an independent body, has monitored and certified the nuclear reactors imported from Russia. “It has accepted the technology,” he explained.

CPM state secretary G Ramakrishnan, meanwhile, called for a thorough review of all operational aspects of the two nuclear reactors at Koodakulam by a “credible, independent panel” outside the DAE and NPCIL establishment, and certify whether it “is safe to operate them, “just as India has now demanded the EPR type reactors from France. He said the only trial run at the Koodankulam unit after the Fukushima disaster was not satisfactory.

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