No-drill policy for nuclear power plants: Authority

No-drill policy for nuclear power plants: Authority

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said in an RTI reply to the anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant  body  — People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) — that there is no policy on pre-commissioning safety and evacuation drills for nuclear power plants.

PMANE chief S P Udayakumar had filed a Right to Information Act (RTI) plea to the NDMA on what was its policy on the affected people before commissioning a nuclear power plant elsewhere in the country.

The NDMA in its July 3 reply, which ‘PMANE’ released to the media on Saturday, said:  “There is no policy made by the NDMA about preparing the local project affected people before commissioning a nuclear power plant anywhere in the country.” 

The reply assumes significance in the backdrop of the recent “mock emergency preparedness drill” conducted by the Tirunelveli District Authorities with help of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and KNPP officials in a village near Kudankulam. 

The PMANE had dubbed it as a mere formality to get the approval of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) for the start-up operations of KNPP’s first 1000 MW unit. However, even after that drill, the authorities maintained that such pre-commissioning drills are not required.

But Udayakumar had asked “if fire drills are conducted in all the schools and movie theatres all over the country, should we not conduct safety and evacuation drills in every village and town in the 30-km radius of the project before commissioning a nuclear power plant in our country of mostly illiterate people?”

The NDMA guidelines for ‘Management of Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies, 2009’ did not discuss pre-commissioning safety drills for nuclear power plants in the country, Udayakumar underscored in his RTI query.

To another RTI query regarding the ‘Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV)’ erected at the KNPP, the NPCIL in its reply indicated that Russia was also involved in the decisions regarding the RPV specifications. 

“The Reactor Pressure Vessel (does not include the Pressure Vessel Head) consists of six forged cylindrical shells and one forged ellipsoid bottom which are circumferentially welded together,” the NPCIL said in its reply.

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