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Q&A: Shashikant Dharne, Nuclear Power Corporation of India

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Sanjay Jog  interviews Shashikant Dharne of NPCIL in Business Standard

Jaitapur nuclear project: No adverse impact on health, environment
Feb 15, 2011

Development of 10,000 MW Jaitapur power project in Maharashtra is being debated especially on issues of application of six European pressurised reactors and impact on environment due to radiation. In an interview with Sanjay Jog, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd’s joint director Shashikant Dharne explains company’s stand.

Critics are questioning deployment of 6 European pressurised reactors (EPRs) on the ground that they are not tested and proven. They allege that these reactors are being dumped by Areva. What is Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited’s (NPCIL) views?

The EPR reactors proposed to be deployed at Jaitapur are of the evolutionary design. They have been evolved from the N4 and KONVOI reactors successfully in France and Germany. The current proven versions of these reactors have the capacity of up to 1500 MW. The EPR combines the salient design and safety features of N4 and KONVOI as well as has enhanced features to strengthen the safety to unparalleled levels, which are capable to successfully withstand the natural as well as human-induced hazards. The enhanced safety features considered in the design of EPRs is one of the deciding factors in the choice of these reactors.

What will be the life of these reactors?
The life of these reactors is designed to be 60 years. At the end of life, like the practice for any other nuclear plant in the world, the critical components of plants are assessed for their health and based on this assessment, the regulatory bodies take the appropriate decision regarding the extension of the life of the plant.

What will be radiation from the upcoming project? Villagers fear that radiation will be lead to impotency, outbreak of cancer and severely damage ecology. What is your Rcomment?
All the flora and fauna of the earth, including of course the human beings is continuously bathing in the natural radiation due to various radioactive elements in the earth and in the atmosphere as well as the contribution from the outer space. It varies from place to place depending on various components like the minerals in the surrounding area, height from the sea level, etc. The average dose per year from natural radiation is about 2,400 microSievert.

The AERB has stipulated that the limit of dose to public at the fence boundary of a nuclear establishment irrespective of the number of plants and/or other storage/processing facilities is 1000 microSievert. The past record of the operating nuclear indicates that the dose from the nuclear power plants to the public is much below this stipulated limit (ranging from 2-36 microSievert).

Hence, this negligible increase in the dose due to nuclear power plant does not pose any additional hazard to the public around the plant. The same has been borne out by the studies conducted by Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, at Tarapur.

Where the nuclear waste will be disposed off?
The nuclear power plant during its normal operation does not produce high-level nuclear waste unlike a reprocessing plant. There is no reprocessing plant currently envisaged at Jaitapur.

The low and medium level solid waste generated during the operation of the nuclear power plant is minimised in volume and stored in SS containers in concrete vaults with a continuous surveillance till it decays to the safe level.

What is NPCIL’s plan to comply with 35 conditions laid down by MoEF while giving environment clearance for the project?
NPCIL will strictly comply with all the 35 conditions stipulated by MoEF while giving environmental clearance.

What is the present state of negotiations with Areva? What efforts are being made to reduce capital cost from Rs 15-19 crore to Rs 9 crore and also to make the per unit tariff competitive?
India is a world recognised power in the nuclear field. It has a unique end-to-end capability in the nuclear field whether it is back end of the fuel cycle or front end or any other field like design, procurement, erection, commissioning, operation and maintenance of the nuclear plants. With this strength combined with highly developed Indian industry capable of delivering the goods the efforts are on to reduce the cost of the plants and make the electricity available at the competitive rates.

Have your increased the per acre compensation to Rs 10 lakh? What is the total rehabilitation package?
The government of Maharashtra has constituted a committee to look into this matter and NPCIL will go along with its decision.

The government of Maharashtra and NPCIL have signed the relief & rehabilitation (R&R) package to give adequate compensation to all the affected persons. NPCIL would provide Rs 2 crore per village to upgrade existing civil amenities & facilities, make provision of Rs 25 lakh per year per village to maintain civil amenities.

It would provide employment to one person from each project affected families in group C&D (semi-skilled) subject to eligibility and availability of vacancy. If he or she does not want to get employed, they would get a lump sum cash compensation of Rs 5 lakh in lieu of the employment.

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