Jairam: Will consider extra safeguards for Jaitapur

March 16, 2011 1 comment

From the Indian Express

March 16, 2011

Even as the nuclear crisis in Japan deepens and concerns over nuclear safety mount across the globe, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday said that additional safeguards and design specifics would be considered for the proposed Jaitapur nuclear plant in Maharashtra. The proposed plant off the Ratnagiri coast has been the target of protests by social and environmental activists.

“Yesterday the Prime Minister made a detailed statement in Parliament. I know the Nuclear Power Corporation is re-looking on its safety systems, re-looking at design,” Ramesh said in response to a query on whether the government was reconsidering the project in the wake of the radioactive leaks being reported in Japan’s nuclear facility following the earthquake and tsunami.

The minister said though the issue was one of concern to all, the issue of safety at nuclear plants was under the purview of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. He was speaking on the sidelines of a conclave on Business and Climate Change here.

“This appropriately is a subject that has to be dealt with by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and based on the technical reviews that the NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) does, we will certainly be in touch with them, and if additional safeguards have to be built in as part of the environmental clearance, we will certainly look at it,” he added.

Meanwhile, the CPM issued a politburo statement, calling for immediate halt to the Jaitapur project. “Given the crisis which has developed in some of the nuclear power reactors in Japan…, it is imperative that the environmental clearance given to the project be withdrawn,” it said.

20 years, 92 quakes: Ground trembles beneath Jaitapur’s feet

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Viju B in Times of India

March 16, 2011,

MUMBAI: Fukushima has become part of the local lexicon at Jaitapur. As news of the apocalypse-like situation in Japan reaches the far corners of villages in and around the area, residents have increased their agitation against the proposed 9,900 mw nuclear power plant.

Jaitapur area falls in the seismic zone 3 category, and data from the Geological Survey of India shows that between 1985 and 2005, there were 92 earthquakes.

The biggest earthquake in Jaitapur, recorded in 1993, measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. The ground is unstable, say activists and geologists, and there is no guarantee that the government’s safeguards will protect the people and ecologically sensitive Konkan coast from a nuclear disaster should there be another earthquake.

Environmental activist Pradeep Indulkar said: “The third explosion at the Fukushima plant in Japan on Tuesday confirms that in the event of an earthquake, precautionary measures and safeguards will not avert a disaster. It is better not to have a nuclear power plant in this seismic zone region.”

At Shivane village, 20 km from Jaitapur, Chandrakant Padkar remembers the day the earth shook and the road outside his house vanished. The unreported earthquake took place two years ago, and the village still bears the scars. Now, with the government’s plans to set up the nuclear plant here, the gorge has taken on a more ominous avatar.

Protest against Jaitapur nuclear plant

March 16, 2011 1 comment

Siddharth Gadkari in Pune Mirror

March 16, 2011

With Japan’s nuclear power plant explosions, locals and activists have intensified their agitation against the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power project in Ratnagiri.

The Lokshasan Andolan strongly condemned the project, terming it a fascist onslaught on people meant to crush their resistance. Lokshashan Andolan’s Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Lokayat held a press conference to address this on Tuesday.

Former Justice P B Sawant, founder of the organisation, criticised  the state saying, “Till before the Japanese  nuclear meltdown, India’s nuclear authorities said that if that earthquake-prone Japan could operate nuclear reactors, then India could definitely do so. However, this disaster clearly shows what could happen in Jaitapur.”

He also said that if a major accident were to take place at Jaitapur-Madban, then the western region of Maharashtra, including Pune, would be radiocatively contaminated even 25 years later.

Quite a large area would also have to be permanently evacuated. “Are we ever going to allow this,” he asked. While  addressing MLAs and MLCs in the central hall of Maharashtra Legislature on Monday, former Atomic Energy Commission chairman, Anil Kakodkar said, “Indian nuclear reactors have ‘engineered safeguards’ which would be activated automatically in case of an emergency.”

Niraj Jain of Lokayat replied with, “Nuclear experts worldwide have described India’s nuclear power plants as amongst the ‘most dangerous in the world’. There have been at least 300 accidents at India’s reactors, for example the accident at Narora in Uttar Pradesh in 1993 and Kakrapar in 1994. How can Kakodkar guarantee the safety of the Jaitapur plant?”

As retired judges, academicians and scientists who support the struggle have been barred from entering Ratnagari, activists plan to stage a Dharna on Thursday, March 17, outside the Pune’s Collectorate, demanding the Jaitapur Nuclear Plant be scrapped.

The government said additional environmental safeguards at the proposed Jaitapur plant can be considered. “What has happened is horrendous. Japan, which is best prepared to deal with earthquakes to lose so much life and property and particularly the nuclear catastrophe is a great concern for all of us,” Jairam Ramesh said in Delhi earlier today.

“EPR technology proposed for Jaitapur has to be evaluated”

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

From The Hindu

March 15, 2011

Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairperson Srikumar Banerjee on Monday said the EPR technology proposed at Jaitapur would have to be evaluated for safety from the context of earthquakes and tsunamis coming together. Addressing a press conference here, Dr. Banerjee and other heads of India’s nuclear establishment sought to dispel myths about the accident in Japan.

They were also categorical that neither India’s nuclear programme nor the Jaitapur nuclear power project will be affected, after the events in Japan.

Dr. Banerjee said a safety analysis of the EPR would have to be carried out and whether it had the clearances from the country of origin. “We have to think of the influence of a natural calamity,” he said. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was already carrying out the process for site clearance at Jaitapur and it would also conduct a safety analysis of the EPR, he said.

Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) officials said there was no reason to go back on the Jaitapur project and the opposition to the project was due to “non-understanding” of the issues. “NPCIL will put more efforts to convince the local people,” S.P. Dharne said.

Defending the EPR, NPCIL chairperson and managing director S.K. Jain said the EPR was not an untested reactor and once set up at Jaitapur, it would be the 11th one in the world. He said: “Already the possibility of an earthquake and a tsunami coming together was taken into account and we have a safe-grade elevation at Kalpakkam. During the tsunami in 2004, the plant had a safe shutdown and it was re- started in three days. We are using best practices from all over the world,” he said. “A pre-requisite of the site selection is that it has to be resistant to earthquakes and tsunamis,” he said. Despite the fact that at Kalpakkam, the reactors had a safe shutdown, NPCIL had created a tsunami protection wall around the Kalpakkam plant.

S.P. Bhardwaj, director (technical) NPCIL said EPR had four independent systems of safety features and the control system had improved. It was also pointed out that the one of the main reasons for choosing Jaitapur was that the location was 25 metres above sea level. EPR was the third or third-plus generation of reactors and even if an aircraft crashed into it, it would be safe, Dr. Banerjee said. It had a lot of diverse systems and its design was based on the several reactors operating in Germany and France.

Dr. Banerjee said that the deal with Areva had not yet culminated in a techno-commercial agreement. No numbers have been considered as yet and an offer was yet to be discussed.

Elevation reduces chances of tsunami at Jaitapur: Kakodkar

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment

From The Hindu

March 14, 2011

Stating that seismic activity in India differs from that in Japan, Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, said here on Monday that the possibility of a tsunami at Jaitapur, the site for a proposed nuclear power plant, was low.

“Seismic activity in Japan and India are two different things. There are certain locations in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. So, I won’t say a tsunami will not occur, but its intensity will not be that high. And specifically, since Jaitapur is on a plateau, the possibility of a tsunami there is low. Though it’s along the seashore, it’s at a [considerable] height,” Dr. Kakodkar said in his lecture on nuclear energy at the inaugural function of a parliamentary training centre at the Vidhan Bhavan.

N-stations can be in seismic zones

He said building nuclear power stations even in seismic zones four and five was not an impossible task. “In Japan, 54 plants are in zone five. The U.S. has 10 of them in this zone. There are different kinds of reactors [designed] after studying what kind of earthquake can take place,” he said.

Closer home, the Kalpakkam power station was also hit by the tsunami in 2004, but “it has started again,” Dr. Kakodkar pointed out.

Japan echo: global review

In the wake of the catastrophe in Japan, however, there would be an international review of reactor designs, he said. Citing International Atomic Energy Agency updates, he said blasts at the Fukushima plant in Japan were in the reactor building and not in the containment area. The accident rating of the incident was 4 as opposed to 5 for the Three Mile Island accident and 7 for Chernobyl.

The nuclear scientist sought to dispel concerns over radioactivity, impact on marine life and environment and waste management with reference to the Jaitapur project. He said there was “no need to doubt” reactors of the government-owned French company Areva, which were being used for power generation in France too.

Farming around plant

Dr. Kakodkar said farming was being carried out in the green belt around the Tarapur power station. As for concerns over marine ecology, the water released from a reactor’s condenser was five degrees warmer than normal water, which could cause no harm to the marine ecology.

On spent fuel, Dr. Kakodkar said: “We have the technology for a repository [of spent fuel]. It is said about Jaitapur that there is no discussion on waste management. High-level waste never remains in the power station; it goes to the reprocessing plant. When the proposal for a reprocessing plant comes up, discussions on waste fuel will be held.”

Energy options: nuclear, solar

Dr. Kakodkar said that with rising energy needs, India needed to stress on nuclear and solar energy to overcome power scarcity.

“There is no doubt that we have to give importance to solar energy, but we cannot get it 24 hours. And, storing it on a large scale is not economically viable. For today’s needs, we have to use all the energy resources [oil, fossil fuels, wind, solar], but for the future, nuclear and solar are the only two options,” he said.

Along with energy security, he stressed on achieving energy independence as well.

‘Intelligent buyers’

“India is neither among reactor suppliers, nor buyers. We are an experienced nation and whatever we import, we will enforce modifications as per our conditions. We are intelligent buyers,” he said.

Three stopped from entering Ratnagiri

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

From the Indian Express

March 7, 2011

Ratnagiri police on Sunday prohibited three activists who have been protesting against the Jaitapur nuclear power project from entering the district. The Konkan Bachao Vinashkari Prakalp Samiti was scheduled to hold a meeting at Pawas, about 50 km from Jaitapur.

Ratnagiri SP Pradeep Raskar said prohibitory orders had been issued against activists Vaishali Patil, Justice B G Kolse-Patil and Justice P B Sawant for 15 days as they could “create tension in the district during their visit”. While Patil and Kolse-Patil have been served with similar notices twice in the past, Sawant has been served notice for the first time. In the past, Sawant had been restrained once, but no orders were issued against him.

Earlier in the week, prominent activist Dr Milind Desai was arrested in a rioting case registered against him and others in December. Desai is still in police custody. Desai was picked up two days after he spoke against the government during a public meeting of locals with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in Jaitapur. During the same meeting, Patil was asked to leave the premises as she did not belong to the affected area. She refused to budge and it led to a confrontation with the police.

Locals from the villages of Madban, Mithgavane, Karel, Nate and Sakri Nate are protesting against the world’s largest nuclear power park to be set up in the coastal Konkan region of Jaitapur.

Jaitapur project: State ropes in clerics to bring fishermen around

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Rakshit Sonawane in Indian Express

March 7, 2011

Leaving no stone unturned to push the nuclear power project at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district, the state government has decided to rope in Muslim clerics to convince the predominantly Muslim fishing community in the region that is opposing the project.

The fishing community in Nate and Sakhri Nate villages is apprehensive about curbs being imposed on movement of their trawlers and damage to marine life once the project goes critical. According to officials, over 30 per cent of fishing along the Ratnagiri coast is done by fishermen from Nate, using about 350 trawlers. The entire population is Muslim, while the Sakhri Nate village has a mixed population of about 800.

With NGOs and political parties opposed to the project like the RPI and Shiv Sena active here, fishermen from both villages had aggressively opposed the project during Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s visit on February 26. They had joined residents of other villages opposed to the project, such as Madban, Niveli, Karel, Mithgavane and Varliwada.

“Muslim clerics right from Chiplun to Nate have been contacted,” sources said. “A meeting of all clerics was also held recently… They were asked to convince the fishing community that the project would not affect marine life or impose any restrictions on the movement of their boats.”

The clerics, who are in touch with locals daily, have also been asked to talk about the safety factor and convince them that the project would not harm them. Industries Minister Narayan Rane has also met the clerics.

When contacted, Rane said: “Technically, Nate and Sakhri Nate residents are not PAPs (project affected persons). They are outsiders because they are not losing their land or houses. But we have worked out a package for them. It includes construction of a fishing jetty, creation of cold storage facilities, finance for trawlers, besides desilting of the Musa-Kazi fishing jetty and provision of nets and vessels to fishermen.