Nuke power is safe, says scientist

Nuclear power is eco-friendly and comparable to solar energy

Nuclear power is eco-friendly, almost comparable to solar energy, said Shivaramu, scientific officer, radiological safety division, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam.

Delivering a talk on ‘Safety, Radiation and Environmental Issues of Nuclear Power’ at Government College (Autonomous) here on Saturday he said we need one tonne of oil (petroleum) or 1.5 tonne of coal to generate 12,000 units of power, but just six grams of uranium.

“As the nuclear reactors are foolproof and the waste produced is negligible and handled with care, the risks to human life and nature are minimal,” he said.

The Science Forum of the college had organised the talk by the alumnus. The scientist, a native of Danayakanapura in the district, had studied PUC and B Sc in the college three decades ago.

Stating that a country’s prosperity and well-being was directly proportionate to the availability of electric power, he pointed out that people were managing without power for almost 14 to 16 hours a day in villages. “How will children study at home at night? How will farmers run their agriculture implements and pump water? How will people survive in this highly mechanised and computerised world?” he wondered.

Shivaramu said: “In 1947 the per capita consumption of power in India was 27 units, now it stands at 600 units. Now, the total power generated in the country is 600 GW, by 2052 we need 1350 GW. The only solution is nuclear power.”

Deliberating on the general opinion about radiation due to nuclear power plants and the resultant opposition he said one cannot escape radiation. “Radiation is everywhere. One is born as a result of radiation. Every person emits radiation due to substances like Potassium-40 present in one’s body. Human beings are exposed to radiation 51 per cent due to air, 12 per cent each due to medical tests and food items,” he explained.

Citing that radiation is often quoted as the cause for cancer, he said there are chances of cancer due to radiation, but it was negligible. “The major causes for cancer are: food-33 per cent and smoke-31 per cent, while radiation is just one per cent even while over 500 nuclear reactors are functioning across the world.”

Explaining about the safety measures taken at nuclear power plants in India he said Chernobyl mishap occurred in the erstwhile USSR due to unauthorised experiments and lack of security measures, while the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan was a result of a natural disaster.

“The Daiichi plant was built to withstand earthquake up to 8 on Ritcher scale. But the earthquake was of the magnitude of 9. Fortunately, despite tsunami was never in the picture while designing the reactors in India, the ones at Kalpakkam were not affected in 2004, thanks to the safety measures in place.

Our reactors are designed to shut down when the earth shakes. Now, additional measures are taken in view of tsunami also,” he informed.

Dean of the college Marigowda, associate professor of physics Sreepad and president of the forum Prakash were present on the occasion.

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