Indian N-plants safe: Atomic panel chief
Chandigarh: All Indian nuclear plants are "absolutely safe", Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Srikumar Banerjee said Thursday and indicated that people living around the upcoming Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu could have been "misled".
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the golden jubilee celebrations of the defence ministry's Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) near Panchkula, 30 km from Chandigarh, he said that the safety concerns regarding the KKNPP, where work has been stalled in recent months, were unfounded.
"A CT-scan can give you more radiation than one can get while working in a nuclear reactor throughout your life," Banerjee said.
"All nuclear power plants in the country are absolutely safe. We have not only tested safety measures in existing conditions, but have also conducted stress-tests on our nuclear power plants," he said.
Referring to the safety concerns of locals near the KKNPP in the context of the nuclear accident at Japan's Fukushima plant earlier this year following a tsunami, Banerjee said that the (Fukushima) incident had served as an eye-opener for nuclear scientists in India.
"We immediately constituted task forces, which examined each and every dimension at every plant and suggested short-term and long-term measures. The people around KKNPP are misled," he said.
He said that the KKNPP design includes provisions for withstanding damage from earthquakes, tsunami, tidal waves, cyclones, shock-waves, aircraft impact on main buildings and fire.
He said that it was a misconception that nuclear power reactors spread radiation. "In fact, even in the Fukushima accident, there was a zero casualty because of radiation," he said.
Hoping that the KKNPP project would be back on track soon, Banerjee said that the Tamil Nadu government had set up a 15-member committee, including scientific experts, government representatives and public representatives who would be engaging local people in talks on the issue of setting up the plant.
"There are around 14,000 nuclear reactors in 30 countries and till date the casualty figure is only 52," he said adding that, in comparison, around 1.7 lakh people die every year in road accidents on Indian roads.
Justifying nuclear power, the AEC chairman said that the country was importing large quantities of coal for thermal power stations. He added that nuclear power was the way forward for energy requirements of the country.