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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some of the nuclear power reactors in Japan…, it is imperative that the environmental clearance given to the project be withdrawn,” it said.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.

“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.

Radioactive Jaitapur

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Praful Bidwai in Hindustan Times

Feb 16, 2011

Environmentally conscious citizens have been shocked at the conditional clearance for the Posco steel project in Orissa, in flagrant breach of the Forest Rights Act. But a bigger, more flawed project, was cleared two months back with equally vacuous and irrelevant conditions. Jaitapur, in Maharashtra
’s Ratnagiri district, is expected to be the world’s biggest nuclear power station and generate 9,900 MW (India’s current nuclear capacity is 4,780 MW).

It will be based on the untested European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), not approved anywhere — including in France, where the nuclear company Areva designed it.

The project is being imposed on a beautiful ecosystem, a segment of the Sahyadris where the Krishna and the Godavari originate, with a flourishing farming, horticultural and fisheries economy. It lies in one of the world’s 10 greatest biodiversity hotspots.

Only an irrational mind would want to risk degradation of this region to build nuclear reactors that will displace 40,000 people, disrupt water flows and uproot fruit-yielding trees.

Seismicity is also of concern. Jaitapur is an earthquake-prone area, with a rating of 4 on a 1-5 scale. This violates an official committee’s recommendations against locating hazardous industries outside Zone 2.

Yet that’s what Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a subsidiary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), is doing. It zeroed in on Jaitapur in 2003, assuming the site would be approved; the DAE always prevails.

Consider another irrationality. Four years after the project report was made, the state started acquiring 2,400 acres for the reactors, six days before French President Nicolas Sarkozy came to India. In deep financial trouble, Areva has long eyed India’s nuclear market and was the first to seize the opportunity offered by the India-US nuclear deal.

Jaitapur’s six proposed EPRs were cleared in an extraordinarily sloppy Environment Impact Assessment by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute that has no competence in seismic or nuclear safety-related matters. It evades biodiversity issues and one of the greatest problems with nuclear power — generation and storage of large quantities of radioactive wastes.

The EPR’s safety design is problematic because of its large (1,650 MW) size, complexity, and high neutron density, which will produce seven times more toxic iodine-129 than normal reactors. The world’s first EPR-under-construction, in Finland — western Europe’s first post-Chernobyl reactor — has been delayed by at least 42 months and is 90% over budget.

Finnish, French, British and US nuclear regulators have raised 3,000 issues about its safety. A French government-appointed expert suggests several modifications to ‘optimise’ the design. The Finnish fiasco has entangled Areva into bitter litigation and losses.

The NPCIL has now decided to import six EPRs, ignoring the generic problems with nuclear power. Reactors are high-pressure-high-temperature systems in which a barely-controlled fission chain-reaction occurs. Controls can fail. Minor malfunctions get quickly magnified.

The EPR produced power will be costlier than the disaster called Enron, also located in Ratnagiri. Design modifications will further raise the EPR’s already sky-high capital costs — R21 crore per MW, compared to R9 crore for Indian reactors and R5 crore for coal-fired power. Its unit generation costs, R5-8 could ruin downstream industries.

The Jaitapur project earns another black mark. The area’s highly literate people are dead against it as it will destroy livelihoods and expose them to hazards. They oppose it not out of ignorance, but know the dangers of nuclear power. More than 95% have refused to take compensation for forcibly acquired land, despite it being raised from R1.6 lakh to R10 lakh an acre. Ten villages pointedly did not hoist the national flag on Republic Day.

The government has unleashed savage repression against the resistance by arresting and slapping trumped-up charges and externment notices on hundreds, and prohibiting peaceful assembly. Eminent citizens were banned from Jaitapur.

Maharashtra minister Narayan Rane recently threatened to ensure that ‘outsiders’ who enter Jaitapur ‘won’t return’. None of this has broken the people’s resolve. Suppression of fundamental rights is the price Jaitapur will extract, besides ecological devastation, if the nuclear juggernaut is allowed to roll. It must be halted.

Jaitapur: Deficit of public trust

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Dr Gopalakrishnan in DNA

Feb 9, 2011
The government has approved the construction of a 9900 MW (megawatt) nuclear park at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a public sector undertaking of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), will own this mega power project. The project will have six European pressurised reactors (EPR), each of 1650 MW capacity; their fuel and critical equipment will be supplied by French state-owned company Areva.

DAE does not today have any concrete basis or data to evaluate the EPR performance on their own. And yet, the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has hurriedly approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Jaitapur project, citing “weighty strategic and economic reasons in favour of the grant of environmental clearance now”.

In clearing the EIA, the minister for environment has left all the crucial nuclear safety-related issues to be answered by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the NPCIL and Areva. AERB and NPCIL are secretive and evasive on such issues, and Areva works under NPCIL directions. Safety issues are at the core of the public disquiet, and the MoEF-cleared EIA does not even cursorily address these vital aspects.

Of late, a set of senior politicians and nuclear scientists have been carrying out a high-pressure blitzkrieg in favour of the Jaitapur project. The persons involved are the Maharashtra chief minister, the former and current chairmen of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the chairman and managing director of NPCIL, and agents of corporate houses and their federations, all of whom stand to benefit in one way or other.

Let us not forget that these are the very same people who colluded with the prime minister’s office (PMO) over the last six years to eventually trump up a false case to justify the import of foreign reactors. The public have hardly any trust in this unethical crowd, since their past actions indicate they are probably influenced by the corporate nuclear lobby and the directions from the PMO.

It is time now that this group starts answering the hard questions that trouble most informed people, instead of evading them. For example, they must openly defend the premises on which it is argued that the import of 40,000 MW of foreign light-water reactors in the near-term is essential to ensure energy security in the year 2050. They must explain why they chose to import the EPRs, which have never been built anywhere, instead of selecting a French LWR design on which established operational experience & confidence exist. Does this choice make any economic sense when all indications are that the EPRs will cost Rs20 crores/MW in terms of 2010-rupees, whereas an indigenous pressurized heavy-water reactor (PHWR) plant will cost no more than Rs8 crores/ MW?

Moreover, does selecting the EPR make any technological sense in view of the world experience with unidentified failure modes and design errors prevalent in brand new untested reactors, which might then lead to devastating nuclear accidents, especially in the initial learning phase? Or, are the PM and his DAE experts knowingly leasing out the Jaitapur area for Areva and the French government to experiment with this new reactor and fix its problems far away from their own nationals, while the people of Ratnagiri and the surrounding areas are made sitting ducks for this hazardous adventure?

How much understanding, based on relevant data, do Areva and NPCIL together have on the radiological and physical behavior of high-burnup spent-fuel from these EPRs and the consequent serious safety issues related to its long-term storage, cooling, transport and reprocessing?

There are many more such serious questions that still remain unanswered. The opposition to the Jaitapur project will not abate as long as the government avoids a full and transparent debate of each and every disturbing issue, which remains unanswered.

Dr Gopalakrishnan is a former chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of the Govt of India

Why We Oppose the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

A Letter to the Chief Minister by social activists in Maharashtra
Copy from SACW website

Janahit Seva Samiti, Madban

Reg. No.: Maharashtra (3456) / Ratnagiri, Dt. 10.08.2007
Reg. No.: F 3444
At Post: Madban, Tal.: Rajapur, Dist.: Ratnagiri [India]

January 17, 2011

To,
Mr. Prithviraj Chavan
Hon’ble Chief Minister
State of Maharashtra
Mantralaya
Mumbai 400 032
Re: Decision to Abstain from Attending the Meeting Called by you on January 18, 2011 – Our Position

Dear Sir,

The newspapers have reported that you have called a meeting on 18th January 2011 to address the ‘misconceptions’ and ‘apprehensions’ in the minds of the local residents. We wish to clarify at the outset that ever since the land acquisition process commenced in 2006 we have deeply studied the issues relating to the nuclear power project and our opposition to the project is firmly anchored in these scientific studies.

In the past four years we have carefully read the writings of Dr. Kakodkar, S.K. Jain, Dr. Ravindra Kale and other proponents of the project. We have held discussions with NPCIL and AEC. We have discussed with nuclear scientists Dr. Surendra Gadekar and Dr. Sanghamitra Gadekar. We have studied the writings of nuclear experts Zia Mian, Elliot, Solomon, Flavin and Dr. Helen Caldicott, the discussions in ’Anuvivek’ by Dr. Dilip Kulkarni , and ’Anuurja: Bhram, Vastav aani Paryaya’, by Dr. Sulabha Brahme, and the writings of many other authors in the media before arriving at our conclusions. On the basis of all these materials we have arrived at the conclusion that Nuclear Energy is an unaffordable and unacceptable option whose costs far outweigh its benefits. Nuclear power has inherent safety, security and large scale environmental risks including extremely long term risks. It is extremely costly when all the costs are calculated. Due to the high cost and radioactive risk new nuclear plant construction has been halted in the US and most of Europe. Public opposition to nuclear power in Europe and the US has also been growing. This is why the western countries are trying to sell their reactors to India, China and S. Korea.

Despite years of research, there is no satisfactory technology even today for eliminating the high level radioactivity produced by nuclear reactors. There is no geological repository in existence anywhere in the world which can reliably and safely confine and contain these high level nuclear by-products for the enormous time period necessary to reduce the radioactivity to acceptable levels. Till today there is no scientific answer to the problem of disposal of nuclear waste and radioactive by-products of nuclear reactors.

Despite precautions numerous smaller scale accidents and incidents resulting in radioactive release have occurred in NPPs. The recent incident at Kaiga is just one example. Due to the possibility of accidents or incidents with extremely widespread damage the western power plant suppliers are demanding exemption from civil liability for the consequences of nuclear incidents.

Nuclear power is neither cheap, nor clean, nor safe. The irreversible long term damage from radioactivity will be a real risk for thousands of years. Therefore we have come to the firm conclusion that we cannot allow a nuclear power project at Madban/Jaitapur.

All four gram panchayats in the area have used their authority under the 73rd amendment to pass unanimous resolutions against the proposed JNPP. At the public hearing on May 16th 2010 objections were forcefully articulated by scientific experts. We along with the Konkan Bachao Samiti have had detailed discussions with the Minister of Environment and Forests, and technical experts of the NPCIL, NEERI and the AEC. These discussions have only confirmed and reinforced our conclusion that nuclear power is unaffordable, unacceptable, and fails a scientific cost-benefit analysis test.

Till today there has been no disclosure in the public domain about the capital costs of the project, nor the electricity tariff, which can be the basis of study and scrutiny. Most important till today there has been no consideration, leave alone approval of the design, operational safety, security and environmental risks of the project, its likely impact on the ecology and the livelihoods of the area by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, and other authorities. The project is not shown on any development plan for Ratnagiri. In these circumstances we have decided not to participate in the proposed meeting on the 18th January 2011.

In addition to our fundamental opposition to nuclear power on the above grounds we have specific objections to the site selection. The Madban plateau is continuously experiencing numerous seismic tremors. Cracks have developed in several places. Water availability is the only criterion which is satisfied according to the criteria of the Vengurlekar Committee. The project will be in substantial violation of the CRZ restrictions, though technically exempted. While selecting this sensitive plateau scientific realities appear to have been ignored. The environmental consequences on the Konkan region of the network of high tension transmission towers needed to evacuate 10,000 MW of power have also not been considered.

Most importantly, the Madban plateau is an unique biodiversity ecological hot-spot, which is has to be preserved as a global natural treasure. “To describe this ecological treasure as a barren plateau is unscientific and a blatant lie, which however is digested by muddleheaded experts from Mumbai- and Delhi”- in these terms Dr. Madhav Gadgil has expressed his criticisms in an article which has appeared in Sakal 12th Nov 2010. The BNHS has also in its report stated that the JNPP will have an adverse impact on the biodiversity and the marine life due to the hot water discharges. The adverse impact on the marine life has also been acknowledged by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests Mr. Jairam Ramesh.

The construction of the jetty for building the JNPP will destroy the mangrove forests in and around the creeks. This will destroy the fish breeding grounds and reduce the fish populations. The passage of large sea vessels will destroy marine ecology. The daily intake of 5200 crore litres of water by the project will adversely impact on fish resources. The discharge of the same at a higher temperature will damage the prawn, mollusc and fish resources. There will be a 500 meter no fishing zone all around the project. Security requirements against possible terrorist attacks for the project will place further restrictions on the movement of boats and fishing vessels. All this will have severe adverse impact on the fishing communities in and around the project. There are nearly 7500 persons whose livelihood and survival directly depends on fishing will thus be immediately adversely affected even destroyed. To the south, the livelihood of around 5000 persons directly dependent on fishing for living in fishing villages of Katli, Ingalwadi, Jambhari will be adversely affected. The livelihoods of thousands more who work in the local fishing industry and trade will be devastated.

The current requirement of power of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts is a mere 180 MW, against which 4663 MW of power plant capacity is currently already being exported from these two districts with a further increase of 600 MW in one or two months.

Since shortage of power is cited as the justification for this project we are enclosing a booklet on the alternatives before the country for electricity generation for your perusal.

You are aware that Konkan is the Kashmir of Maharashtra. Substantial employment can be created in industries based on the rich natural resources which do not destroy but preserve and develop the natural wealth. If fish resources are protected, fishing and industries around fish reprocessing can flourish. The working people of Konkan can live with dignity. The farmers, workers and fishing community of Konkan desire a nature conserving, viable and people-oriented development in the Konkan. What kind of development is desirable and what is not is outlined in the booklet that we are enclosing with this letter.

If the government is serious about having a frank dialogue with the activists and the people, certain minimum requirements should be observed. The discussion should take place not in Mumbai but nearby the project site. The organizations opposing the project should have the prerogative to choose their spokesmen and representatives. There should be sufficient time for preparing the discussions on a mutually agreed agenda. The common people should be allowed to participate in the discussion. The issues involved require a discussion of a full day or two days- they cannot be dealt with in a short 2 hour meeting. Only if these minimum requirements are met will it be possible to have a serious and meaningful discussion which is open and unbiased.

If the only purpose of the meeting is to clear our doubts, there is no need for such a meeting. If the meeting is called for any other reason, it is still not possible for us to participate in the current environment of police and state repression. Since the commencement of land acquisition in 2006 ban orders under sections 37(3) (1), 144 have been continuously promulgated in the area, to prevent our exercise of democratic rights. False cases have been foisted on activists. The whole area has been converted into a permanent police camp. Our daily life and livelihood has been rendered difficult, in fact impossible. Mr. Praveen Gavankar, who is a leader of the agitation, has had false cases registered against him and his bail applications have been opposed by the government, to keep imminent arrest as a hanging sword over his head. Peaceful citizens of Maharashtra are being treated as criminals. It is not possible to have a dialogue in these circumstances. We cannot think of discussions if the ban orders and false cases are not withdrawn.

However, if the government is prepared to reconsider the project with an open mind and announces so publicly, we are prepared to meet you for discussions anywhere and at any time.

Your government is trying to impose the project on us. We are determined to oppose it by a mass movement peacefully and democratically. We request you to recognize this democratic opposition, stop attempts to crush it by force, declare that the JNPP project is cancelled and allow us and the people of Maharashtra to live in peace and security.

Our demands:

1. Cancel the Jaitapur Nuclear Project
2. Return the lands which have been forcibly acquired from us.
3. Withdraw all police cases filed against the movement activists and also the ban orders and create a suitable environment for dialogue.

Your truly,
For Janahit Seva Samiti, Madban

Sd/-

Praveen Gavankar, Shyamsundar Narvekar, Surfuddin Kazi, Amjad Borkar, Dr. Milind Desai, Rajan Wadekar, Ramesh Kajve, Shrikrishna Mayekar, Mangesh Kaskar, Bala Gavankar, Malik Gadkari, Sadat Habib, Ms. Manda Wadekar, Mrs.Ranjana Manjrekar

And

Konkan Bachao Samiti, Konkan Vinashakari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, Maharashtra Macchhimar Kruti Samit, Ratnagiri Jilha Jagruk Manch Ratanagiri Dist, Madban-Mithgavhane-Jaitapur Sangharsh Samiti

The Jaitapur nuclear project is courting too many risks

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Yogi Aggarwal in DNA

December 20, 2010

It might seem perverse to raise questions about a large industrial project that will bring ‘state-of-the-art’ nuclear technology to the country, will add 10,000MW to Maharashtra’s power generation capacity, and which, moreover, has been cleared by the recently cautious environment ministry in double-quick time.

But when one takes even a cursory look at the proposed nuclear power project at Jaitapur on the Konkan coast, south of Ratnagiri, one is confronted by unnerving facts.

The French company Areva will construct and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) will operate six reactors, each with a capacity of 1,650MW. It involves an untested and problematic design, is the highest costing power project so far, the risk of nuclear radiation is considerable, and the possible damage to a fragile ecosystem is immense.

The French have the most experience in operating nuclear power reactors and the 59 reactors there account for most of their power generating capacity. Their standard workhorse is the 1,000MW N4 reactor, whose design has been proven over several decades of operation.

The 1,650MW European Pressure Reactor, or EPR, is their new baby. Two plants are being built, one in Finland and another in France, and another two have been ordered by the Chinese.

The EPR in Finland is having cost over-runs, its cost almost doubling fromEuro3 billion to Euro5.7 billion, is behind schedule and has faced many quality and regulatory problems. The largely state-owned Areva suffered a setback earlier this year when it lost a $40 billion contract in the UAE to a South Korean consortium.

In June a government-sponsored report revealed that Areva needed about Euro2 billion more capital to stay in the game. France thus needs the big Indian order amounting to nearly Euro35 billion, to save its nuclear industry.

There is a risk that safety issues are being bypassed. First, there is no redundancy in the instrumentation and control systems of the EPR. This raises the chance of failure since there is no sufficient backup.

The higher burnup may result in a thinning of the fuel cladding, making it prone to early failure. A study by the French power utility EDF has reported that the toxicity from the radioactive waste of the EPR is four times that of ordinary reactors, and is especially high in radioactive iodine and bromine, which stay at dangerous levels of radioactivity for over a million years.

The costs of the EPR are also very high. While a tight wrap has been kept on costs in India, drawing from the Finnish experience, the cost per mega watt of installed capacity for the EPR is over Rs 20 crore, compared to Rs4 crore to Rs5 crore for a coal-based plant and Rs7-8 crore for Indian-designed reactors.

The cost of power generated is also over Rs7 per unit for the EPR, compared to Rs1.50-2.50 for a coal-based plant and Rs3.50-4.50 for an Indian reactor. After transmission distribution costs and losses, the consumer would pay another 50% more.

If the government wants to encourage zero-carbon technologies, it owes it to the citizens to explain just what the tradeoff is with a working of its cost to us. What has been totally missed out in the environment impact assessment (EIA) done by the ministry of environment is the risk of radiation.

The 10,000MW Jaitapur project, located in seismic zone III, is the first step in the plan to take a jump in nuclear power generation, from 4120MW to 63,000MW by 2032.

For a nuclear power plant, the dangers of radioactive contamination are central. These can arise from acts of terrorism or from accidents. The EIA has passed the project without taking the radioactive risk into consideration, leaving it to be determined later by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

In a memorandum to the ministry of environment, the Konkan Bachao Samiti has said: “Safety audit is a rigorous, scientific process. A mere formal exercise is not a bonafide safety audit.… The AERB is the only authorised body to certify safety in regard to radioactivity”, and without its approval there should be no environmental clearance.

There are further issues regarding the transport and disposal of high-level radioactive wastes after reprocessing which are missing in the EIA.

Nuclear waste remains dangerously radioactive for tens of thousands of years, and so far no country has succeeded in building a permanent storage for high-level nuclear waste so that ground water is not contaminated.

Of more immediate concern to local residents is the disruption in their living environment and the protests near Jaitapur reflect that.

The Madhban plateau on which the giant nuclear plants will be built is the largest coastal plateau in the Konkan with a unique biodiversity. This will be lost.

If the government continues with its hasty plans without a proper safety audit, the residents of the Konkan will pay the price at some later time.