Japan N-mishap lessons to factor in India`s review

As a review of all the nuclear facilities in the country is underway, the authorities are factoring in the lessons learnt from the Fukushima episode.

Last Updated: Apr 17, 2011, 18:40 PM IST

New Delhi: As a review of all the nuclear
facilities in the country is underway, the authorities are
factoring in the lessons learnt from the Fukushima episode and
even beyond to ensure that the atomic installations are able
to weather all the possible disasters.

The upgrade in safety features of the nuclear plants will
apply to the existing ones as well as the new ones, including
the proposed Jaitapur plants.

The factors being taken into consideration include high
intensity earthquake, tsunami that would trigger waves upto 15
metres, hurricane and floods, officials said.

The four task forces set up after the Japanese incident
went into the safety features of the existing nuclear plants
to see what can be done to upgrade these and incorporate these
in the new ones.

The first task force studied Tarapur Atomic Plant (TAP) I
and II, the second went into Rajasthan Atomic Plant (RAP) I
and II, the third examined the Madras Atomic Plant (MAP) I and
II while the fourth studied rest of the reactors, the
officials said.

As part of the new measures, it has been decided that the
new nuclear plants would not be constructed in high seismic
zones of VI but at the most, zone III where there is plenty of
space.

At present, most of India`s 20 nuclear plants are in
seismic zone III and only one Narora is in Zone IV.

The officials insisted that the upgrade of the nuclear
plants was a process initiated before Japan`s Fukushima
incident where tsunami triggered by high intensity earthquake
hit nuclear plants last month triggering scare about radiation
leak which the authorities there are still trying to prevent.

"It is not that we became wise only after Fukushima. But
that does not mean we should ignore what happened there," an
official said, adding the lessons learnt there are being taken
into consideration in India`s safety upgrade process.

At the same time, the officials maintained that the
systems in Indian nuclear plants were different from those of
Japanese plants.

Explaining, they said there was multi-layered automatic
system of cooling process in Indian nuclear plants while in
the Japanese ones, the cooling was done through pump systems
which failed in Fukushima once power supply went off due to
tsunami.

With regard to the controversy over setting up of nuclear
plants, including Jaitapur, close to sea, the officials
rejected the contention of activists that it would damage the
maritime life.

The officials maintained that proper studies had been
conducted to see the impact of radioactive waste, not only on
fish but even the organic life on which the fish feed and
these had been taken into account in the projects.

Places close to sea are chosen for certain reasons. The
main consideration is that construction and maintenance of a
large nuclear plant would require heavy equipment which cannot
be transported through the land but only through the sea, they
said.

This is a key factor as the government intends to
construct a cluster of nuclear plants at a particular place
which collectively could generate electricity upto 10,000 MWs.

Also, places close to sea are less inhabited by humans
and evacuation in the event of any eventuality becomes easier.

About the row over the Nuclear Liability law enacted last
year, the officials said it could not provide for unlimited
compensation as demanded by some sections as no company would
provide insurance in that case.

The Act provides for upfront no-fault compensation in the
event of any nuclear accident to be paid by the operator,
which in turn can claim damages from the supplier, if
required, after it is proved that the mishap had been caused
by faulty equipment, they said.

The officials also rejected the contention that the
European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs), as planned in Jaitapur,
were untested, and underlined that these were the upgrades of
the existing technology in terms of safety features which are
unveiled only after proper studies.

Such reactors are already under construction in Britain
and China, they said.

PTI