Scientist bats for nuke power, says Koodankulam unit is safe

Holding that the very design of the power plant was drawn incorporating various requirements, former Vice Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) G R Srinivasan said the power plant was also equipped with some of the most advanced technical and safety features.

"There will be a requirement of almost none or minimum security measures in case of a Fukushima-like incident. The generation station design too is a collaboration of major requirements," he said at a meeting here orgainised by Chemical Industries Association to discuss the matter.

Further, different independent equipment with individual power supply to monitor various aspects were also in place and even if one of them detected any problem, it will be immediately communicated, he said.

Citing safety concerns, the local villagers and fishermen in and around Koodankulam have been demanding scrapping of the Indo-Russian collaboration project, set to begin commercial production in December with the commissioning of the first of the 2x1000 MWe reactors.

Srinivasan, also a former Director, Projects, Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), said the plant had features such as better seismic and tsunami resitance and could withstand a Fukushima-like accident and others.

Further, higher life and operatability at 90 per cent of the capacity were other features, he said. Holding that nuclear energy remains the "safest energy source," he said  world over, countries such as China and Iran besides India were "going full swing" with the construction of atomic reactors.

With India possessing 25 per cent of the world's thorium deposits, it would help the country generate lakhs of megawatts of power in the next several decades, he said.
Indicating that India had a safe nuclear regime with adequate precautionary and safety measures, he said emergency preparedness excercises were carried out in more frequencies than other countries.

"We are the only country which includes cattle evacuation as part of the excercise as people would not move without them," he said. He said people living in and around nuclear power plants such as Tarapore or Kalpakkam had no problems and that marine life did not sustain any damage as being claimed by anti-nuclear lobbies.

Performance of nuclear power plants the world over has been "fairly satsifactory," he said adding only three accidents have occurred in 4,500 reactor years.
Quoting statistics, he said more people died in accidents and others rather than radiation.

Dr V Venugopal, former Director, Radiochemistry and Isotope Group, BARC, Mumbai, said nuclear energy would be one of the key components to meet India's "large energy requirements."

He said nuclear energy was "clean," and said any technology was a "doubl-edged sword,"  but it was imperative to use the "best part of it."

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