Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tirunelveli’s Kudankulam is the single largest nuclear reactor in India and it has been in the limelight ever since its proposal in 1988 due to the various protests that have been staged against it.
Most recently, hearing a petition by the NGO Poovulagin Nanbargal, Supreme Court refused to direct the central government to shut down the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
KKNPP which is under the Central government’s control was asked to construct an Away From Reactor facility to store the nuclear waste and spent fuel.
“Kudankullam appears to be generating a lot of radioactive waste spent fuel. You need an away from reactor facility to use the spent fuel otherwise there are high risk of catastrophic events. When the plant was commissioned or when the permission was given by the SC, they were given a five-year timeline and that has come to an end and they have not even begun to think about it so far,” explained environmentalist Nityananad Jayaram.
“You don’t accumulate all the spent fuel at one place where there is already existing g fuel as all of it can catch fire. There can be a total meltdown,” Nityananad added.
In a reactor, usually, a pool is present below it where all the spent fuel is collected and cooled. Once the spent fuel is cooled it is moved away from there to a facility called away from reactor facility.
The NGO filed a petition after a petition was moved by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.
“NPCL filed a petition in February 2018 stating that they don’t have any technical expertise to treat this kind of radioactive waste materials and that they wanted support from their Russian counterpart to make such facility,” said Advocate Vetrichelvan of the NGO Poovulagin Nanbargal.
A WORRISOME STATE
“The NPCL stating that there is no capability to handle the radioactive waste is very worrisome. State and centre had stated that this was the best in the world but now they are not having the capability to build the AFR and they have to identify where the nuclear waste has to be dumped permanently,” added Vetrichelvan.
In 2013, while laying out a set of guidelines for the functioning of the nuclear power plant the Supreme court had instructed the building of the AFR and had given a five-year time period for the same. However, now with the NPCL seeking more time the SC has given an additional four years period till 2022 for the formation of the AFR.
“India doesn’t know how to build an AFR; they have not done that before. This spent fuel has to be moved out and there will be more spent fuel that will get accumulated in the pool. A large amount of radioactive waste that has been stored in a small amount of space because there is no space to transfer it to and that increases the chances of catastrophic activities,” said Nityanand.
Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan and the damages caused to the environment during a natural disaster because of a lack of safe disposal method is now being cited by experts as an example. The fear of a Fukushima-like experience in Kudankulam is the basis on which the NGO has been fighting its case.
NO STUDY ON ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE
Moreover, there is no study by the government to assess the environmental damage or pollution that has been caused by the nuclear reactor.
“There has been no study with regard to the pollution level, environmental hazard or the health hazard in the region. This is a failure in the part of the government,” said Vetrichelvan.
Adding to Vetrichelvan’s point, Nityanand added, “Environmental impacts based on these facility is not known as there is no data that has been released by the company and even if it is released it cannot be reliable as it is nuclear power corporation of India and they don’t have good track record of credibility.”
Date: July 5, 2018
Source: INDIA TODAY