Nuclear Power – Yes Please! or No Thanks! ?

May 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Even as the world marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, India reaffirmed its commitment to an ambitious nuclear energy plan by pushing ahead with the first phase of the controversial nuclear power plant project at Jaitapur in Maharashtra with additional safety measures and a “generous new compensation package” to be announced soon.

But in a concession to heightened public awareness of the need for proper regulation and oversight, the government also promised to introduce a bill in the next session of Parliament creating an independent and autonomous Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India that would subsume the existing Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). In recent times, Indian citizens have begun to voice their fears and fantasies to the government and communication media is leaving no stones unturned in making them well heard!

In a European study (the Eurobarometer survey) it was found that those people who feel informed about nuclear safety tend to perceive the risks as lower than those who feel uninformed. In an attempt to keep ourselves informed about the reasons behind the entire Jaitapur debate, IM lists various facts and figures which may help us answer a significant question, that is: "NUCLEAR POWER – YES PLEASE! Or NO THANKS! ???"

After Fukushima, people around the world are rethinking nuclear energy. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, observed that “when… the apparently impossible becomes possible and the absolute unlikely reality, then the situation changes”. She announced a “measured exit” from reliance on nuclear energy, which means closing Germany’s 17 reactors. Switzerland has already suspended plans to build new reactors. An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists quoted “countries with weak environmental movements and weak regulatory norms seem to be proceeding as if nothing has happened. As the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded, Turkey announced plans to go ahead with two reactors, and we can surely expect China, Russia, and India to do the same.” After the accident in Japan, S.K. Jain, the chairman of India’s Nuclear Power Corporation said that in India “We have got total knowledge and design of the seismic activities. Worst seismic events and tsunami have been taken into consideration in our designs.” The Japanese nuclear authorities no doubt thought the same way before Fukushima. But as with time our ability and efficiency has goes beyond our expectations, similarly did standards of ‘worst’ catastrophic events.

Nuclear establishments underestimate the likelihood and severity of possible accidents. The Fukushima reactors were not prepared to cope with an earthquake and tsunami of the size that took place. A month before the accident, the Fukushima plant was given a permit to operate for another 10 years. The Tokyo Electric Power Company that owns and operates the reactors, the nuclear safety agency in Japan and the Japanese government all convinced themselves the reactors were safe.

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Namita Sharma

Source: | South Asia Citizens Wire | South Asia Citizens Wire | Tehelka | Geothermal Energy Resources of India | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | OneWorld South Asia |


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