Despite disasters risk in nuclear energy lowest: Kakodkar

Notwithstanding disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, risk in nuclear energy is the lowest, eminent nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar said today.

"Despite disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, risk in nuclear energy is the least. Climate change could be bigger than a nuclear bomb," Kakodkar, Homi Bhabha Chair Professor at BARC, said delivering a lecture on 'Sustainable Energy Security for India: Challenges and Options' organised by the IISc here.

Allaying general public perceptions that nuclear reactors can cause accidents, the former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission said, "this is physically impossible. Fatalities mostly occur in uranium mines".

He termed the other common perception that radiation exposure at any level is harmful as "questionable hypothesis". Fukushima had no fatality caused by radiation. "We are used to varying levels of radiation exposure with no adverse affects," he said.

Highlighting the need for nuclear and solar as primary sources of energy, Kakodkar said nuclear energy already provides 16 per cent of world electricity in a cost competitive manner.

Building fast reactors and reprocessing of fuel was the need of the hour. France was recycling every bit of spent fuel, he said. India has all the component technologies in smaller scale and it was very much possible to meet the energy requirements from within the country. "What is needed is to drive research in directions appropriate to India."

Indian Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (IAHWR) is a quick, safe and secure solution to the energy hungry world, Kakodkar said. Referring to challenges in the field of solar technology, Kakodkar, who heads the National Solar Mission, said it is necessary to drive capital costs down, develop low cost energy storage systems, solar biomass hybrids and also solar thermal photo-voltaic hybrids.

The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project, an Indo-Russian joint venture in Tirunelveli district, has run into rough weather with the locals protesting against it citing safety concerns, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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