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People's Tribunal Questions Safety of India Nuke Complex, World's Biggest

The massive Indian nuclear complex would comprise six controversial third-generation reactors and cover five villages in a known biodiversity 'hot zone'

By Ranjit Devraj, SolveClimate News

Jun 2, 2011

On May 20, Srikumar Banerjee, chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), that the licensing and safety review of the plant would be carried out by India's own nuclear regulator instead of relying on vendors of the EPRs. About a month earlier, the prime minister's office announced legislation to create an independent nuclear regulatory agency to replace the existing AERB, long accused of lacking autonomy from the secretive AEC, which functions under the Official Secrets Act of 1923.

But the safety concerns refuse to go away.

Prof. M.V. Ramana, one of India's leading nuclear scientists, says he is especially concerned that nuclear suppliers successfully lobbied the Indian Parliament to pass a liability law capping compensation at around $462 million in the event of a mishap. 

"This means that despite all the claims about safety, nuclear equipment manufacturers and suppliers know that catastrophic accidents are a possibility," said Ramana, who is currently a researcher with the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

"Areva itself claims unequaled safety levels for the EPRs being installed in Jaitapur, but the French are unwilling to accept unlimited liability in the event of an accident," Ramana said in a series of emails to SolveClimate News. "In fact, while in India, Sarkozy insisted on legislation that would indemnify Areva from the cost of a disaster."  

Lessons from Fukushima

In a , Ramana said Fukushima has shown how "absurdly low" the $462 million cap really is. A new from the finds that dealing with the aftermath of the Japan nuclear disaster could cost between $70 billion and $245 billion.

Ramana further argues that Fukushima has revealed the potential folly of constructing nuclear mega-complexes of the type that India plans to build at Jaitapur, and at five other locations along India's long peninsular coastline.

"The potential damage from an accident at a mega-complex is much larger than that from an accident at a single reactor," said Ramana. "Also, a mega-complex accident at one reactor can damage co-located reactors and hamper emergency operations in the entire complex."

Marine Ecology and Biodiversity

For now the NPCIL has yielded to complaints that the EIA does not factor in possible damage to marine ecology and biodiversity in the Konkan area by announcing that it would undertake a separate study led by A.R. Rahmani, director of the venerable , founded in 1883.

The NPCIL study, to be completed within a year, has a budget of about $1.5 million and will include a "comprehensive marine and biodiversity management plan," according to the letter of intent submitted on May 16 to the environment ministry.

But the announcement of the study has been greeted with some skepticism.

"Why are they doing this now?" said Debi Goenka, a leading member of the well-known, Mumbai-based that opposes the Jaitapur project. "Normally all this should have been part of the EIA."

Water Temperature Debate

This has been so

This has been so enlightening. I´ve discovered your website today and i´m enjoying it so much. It is full of smart advices!

Office 2010

You will have access to stats which track


Nuclear power is the safest kind, bar none, for everybody.   


Deaths per terrawatt year [twy] for energy industries, including  Chernobyl.   terra=mega mega  [There are zero sources of energy  that cause zero deaths, but not having the electricity causes the  far more deaths because not having electricity is a form of poverty.]


fuel......... ........fatalities... .....who......... .......deaths per twy

coal......... .........6400...... ......workers........... .........342

natural gas..... ..1200...... .....workers and public... ...85

hydro........ .......4000..... .......public............ ............883

nuclear........ .........31...... ......workers............ .............8


Nuclear power is proven to be the safest.   Source:  "The Revenge of Gaia" by James Lovelock page 102.   As you can see,  psychological problems are preventing the wider use of nuclear  power.   Chernobyl is included.


I have no connection with the nuclear power industry.   I have never had any connection with the nuclear power industry.   I am not being paid by anyone to say this.   My sole motive is to avoid death in the collapse of civilization and to avoid extinction due to global warming.


The only deaths at Fukushima Daiichi were from the tsunami.   None were from the reactor or radiation.   Several workers got the equivalent of a sunburn on their ankles.   They would not have gotten sunburns on their ankles if they had worn galoshes.


The power plant at Fukushima Daiichi survived the earthquake and a 46 foot high wall of water. You couldn't do that. American containment buildings are even stronger.


Jaitapur is not as exposed to tsunamis as Fukushima is, but I would move the reactors inland anyway. Water cooling is not necessary for nuclear power. Air cooling works. Water cooling is cheap, convenient, efficient and easy to design. That doesn't add up to necessary. There are always tradeoffs in any engineering project. Coal fired power plants need cooling one way or another as well. The cooling may be hidden from you by releasing steam to the air. Then they require fresh water input. Solar and wind may not appear to need cooling but they do. It is just that solar and wind are dispersed rather than concentrated so that the cooling is not noticeable to you.


There are 13 federal agencies and 27 congressional committees regulating nuclear power. THAT and people who know nothing about it who object because of coal industry generated rumors are why coal has not been completely replaced by nuclear. Nuclear is the cheapest per kilowatt hour and nuclear produces less CO2 per kilowatt hour than wind.


Coal contains: URANIUM, ARSENIC, LEAD, MERCURY, Antimony, Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, Selenium, Barium, Fluorine, Silver, Beryllium, Iron, Sulfur, Boron, Titanium, Cadmium, Magnesium, Thorium, Calcium, Manganese, Vanadium, Chlorine, Aluminum, Chromium, Molybdenum and Zinc. There is so much of these elements in coal that cinders and coal smoke are actually valuable ores. We should be able to get all the uranium and thorium we need to fuel nuclear power plants for centuries by using cinders and smoke as ore. Unburned Coal also contains BENZENE, THE CANCER CAUSER. We could get all of our uranium and thorium from coal ashes and cinders. The carbon content of coal ranges from 96% down to 25%, the remainder being rock of various kinds.

If you are an underground coal miner, you may be in violation of the rules for radiation workers. The uranium decay chain includes the radioactive gas RADON, which you are breathing. Radon decays in about a day into polonium, the super-poison.


Chinese industrial grade coal is sometimes stolen by peasants for cooking. The result is that the whole family dies of arsenic poisoning in days, not years because Chinese industrial grade coal contains large amounts of arsenic.


Yes, that ARSENIC is getting into the air you breathe, the water you drink and the soil your food grows in. So are all of those other heavy metal poisons. Your health would be a lot better without coal. Benzene is also found in petroleum. If you have cancer, check for benzene in your past.


for most of the above.


Tell me what you think is dangerous about nuclear power and I will tell you why you are wrong.


"Would you help keep environmental journalism alive?" Not your journalism. You are working for the coal industry because coal is the only real competitor for nuclear. You really don't know what you are talking about. Go get a degree in either physics or nuclear engineering before writing another word about anything nuclear.


You can inform yourself on EPR safety.

Opinions vary, but the technical design is good. Apparently the only problem remains is to separate the four redundant safety systems completely.

Remember, of course, that the fair comparison is with fossil fuels, in terms of deaths per megawatt-hour.

If you don't know how to calculate that, perhaps silence and study is the proper course of inaction.

The EPR is called a

The EPR is called a "controversial reactor" by the author (in the second paragraph) but he doesn't say what is controversial about this particular design.

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