CHURUMURI POLL: End of Indian nuclear dreams?

The fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan, following the tsunami that snuffed out thousands of lives at work, at play and at home on Friday, have revived all the vestigeal fears about the long-term safety of nuclear energy. If this could happen in as technologically savvy and as punctilious a country as Japan, what about us, is the question winging around the world.

As blast after blast at the Fukushima reactor spreads the scare of long term radiation, this is a key inflection point for the Manmohan Singh regime, whose biggest achievement in the first term of the UPA was the signing of the civilian nuclear deal, which paved the way for nuclear exporters to smell business opportunities in a power-deficient country.

As it is, the opposition to the Jaitapur nuclear power plant (the first reactors to be built after the n-deal, by Areva of France) has been building up over the damage to the pristine Konkan belt in Maharashtra. The images coming out of Japan, on top of memories of Cehrnobyl, are scarcely likely to sway public opinion in favour of this “cheap, safe, efficient” power source.

Questions: Could what is happening in Japan spell finis to India’s nascent civilian nuclear power dreams as envisioned by the nuclear deal? Will Indian cities and villages accept nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities on their soil given the abysmal infrastructure and compliance with safety standards? Or, will this too pass?

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28 Responses to “CHURUMURI POLL: End of Indian nuclear dreams?”

  1. voyeur Says:

    It’s not as if we didn’t know about the dangers before this. When has the government taken care?

  2. Goldstar Says:

    Sad but I think, yes. This is the end of the Nuclear dream for India. Atleast for the Jaitapur plant. Technically, it may be possible to build a more safer and secure Nuclear power plant but emotionally nobody will be ready to accept it.

    Back to polluting thermal energy then.

    One of UPA’s big success stories ( a achievement which made me vote UPA in 2009 ) is finished :-( .

  3. vikram Says:

    in a country like ours, where you have no guarantee for flyovers, roads etc. how in the world you can consider nuclear plan to be devoid of faults.

  4. Indu Ramesh Says:

    I am scared, not for myself but for the younger generation of India. I am worried that if at all we succeed in building a neuclear power plant, can we be sure of the kind of reaction to the catastrophy that the Japanese have shown? Remember when even plastic sheets and tarpauline purchase was used to cheat the government of Bihar when floods wrecked havoc?

  5. karihaida Says:

    On the contrary this should make us take up Thorium fast breeder reactors as a priority.

  6. the colonel Says:

    this may be treated as a tweet.

    say in the span of 20 to 30 years, the main generation will be solar and windpower.

    for the interim it will be nuclear say with a guaranteed failsafe for 25 to 35 years.

    otherwise back to blackouts and a new attack on electricity stealing from wind and solar like the case of water in haryana

  7. Abhi Says:

    Plan for Tsunami later. Have a plan for normal days first.

  8. mounaprasad Says:

    In our own neighborhood we have the Kaiga plant and the one’s in Chennai, which are on the coast, it is anybody’s guess what can happen if there is a tsunami on either east or west coast close to these atomic plants. With our pathetic response infrastructure there will be catastrophic loss to human lives and property. The GOI should rethink on going nuclear. When no other developed country is keen on this form of energy anymore, it is only us rushing like fools to buy more reactors.

  9. Manish Says:

    Memo for Churumuri:
    The devastation in Japan was caused by an earthquake of 8.9 on the Richter scale and the tsunami that followed. It is a tribute to Japanese engineering that the Fukushima plant did not collapse completely despite the massive double blow and the radiation leak has been minimal so far.

  10. tsubba Says:

    ” abysmal infrastructure and compliance with safety standards?” any solid basis for the author to claim or is that simply a case of instinctive whining and random jhanda flying in the air?

  11. twistleton Says:

    Only if we have a robust disaster management programme, including R&R facilities ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice for millions of people.

    Earthquakes are still a one-off possibility. Do we have sufficient safeguards to protect people from even day-to-day radiation during radio active mineral mining and disposal of spent fuel?

    Do you know where the nuclear waste goes usually? Into the sea of course. Nuclear energy is far from clean. What happens if we run out of hiding places?

    It is time to move beyond the image of a smoke spewing chimney stack as our definition of ‘polluting’.

  12. DailyBread Says:

    TS Sir,

    Welcome back …..

    >any solid basis for the author to claim……

    As Surjit Bhalla says “No Proof Required”. Exhibit A, right below your post “What happens if we run out of hiding places?”

  13. twistleton Says:

    Really Daily

    You come across as the most ignoramous of bloggers here. All offence meant. Is it possible for an educated person to be so dense?

    Minimal research will suffice.

    Also i take strong exception to your deplorable tactic of picking only particular phrases from anybody’s post and reducing the debate to polemics. I begin to wonder if you are capable of making a single sane, undisjointed argument.

    Heard of Jaduguda and UCIL?

    ***

    For general perusal:

    http://www.downtoearth.org.in/node/1652

  14. DailyBread Says:

    Twistle,

    >All offence meant.

    Don’t worry, nothing personal here. You are just another Exhibit with fashionable pink chaddish ideas. Why will I try to preach to the choir, when I am writing to you, I am trying to address a different audience through you…..

    >reducing the debate to polemics.

    Tough luck, If you have noticed thats the only flavor in which all debates get served at Churumuri ……

    >Heard of Jaduguda and UCIL?

    There is a sipahi in Lutyen’s Delhi. He can wave his jadu ki chadi, mine & the company will be permanently closed.

    >Only if we have a robust disaster management programme, including R&R facilities ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice for millions of people.

    Knock on the doors of NAC, ask what they have done in last 8 years to put one in place..

    >Do we have sufficient safeguards to protect people from even day-to-day radiation during radio active mineral mining and disposal of spent fuel?

    Heard your question, if you think there are no safeguards, any suggestions on how to do this. Or shutting down the mines & power plants only option left.

    PS; Whats downtoearth’s grouse? since when they started worrying about cost escalations and delays in executing projects.

  15. mounaprasad Says:

    For those of you who are asking for proof whether GOI is prepared for disasters, I would like to quote an instance that happened during the Mumbai terror attack. A team of commando’s were flown to mumbai from Delhi to handle the situation, and they had to wait for a number of hours in the mumbai airport because there was no transportation available for them to commute to the sites where the attack was happening. This was our preparedness after seeing 15 + years of terrorism in our country. Another instance that happened recently, there was some radioactive material missing from one of Delhi colleges and our bright guys took a lot of days to realize the material was missing and few more days to actually find where it was. So go figure how our preparedness is for a nuclear disaster a la japan. Yesterday our manservant singh has said in the parliament that he has ordered a thorough assessment of our preparedness for such disasters.

  16. KM Says:

    This link is from the opinion pages of WSJ (and hence it should be treated with the contempt it deserves) but would like to get some counter points from this group regarding this.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704893604576198421680697248.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

  17. Shivananda Says:

    Nuclear energy is not so bad. This incidence has over ridden all factor of safety considerations in design.

    I will not advocate nuclear energy to India for following reasons
    1) safety standards are very very low.
    2) callous govt & officials

    Just think we are not able to provide justice for union carbide victims even after 25 yrs.

    In case of any nuclear meltdown(worst case scenerio but god forbid) in India. Ruling party will point finger at the party which was ruling when work started. environment ministry will point at atomic energy dept etc etc

    Victims(You & I) keep suffering & nothing be done except lip sympathy & vote back politics.

  18. Haage summane Says:

    After CVC, CWG, 2G and ‘coalition pressures’ and ‘error of judgment’, we have to take P.M.’s assurances on nuclear safety with a bagful of salt. Even that will be adulterated and melt quickly !

  19. Doddi Buddi Says:

    As usual much noise coming from doomsday experts. IMHO having petrol bunks in Indian cities is hazardous because we cannot trust the cretins not to light up their beedies or cigarettes. Why for that matter the number of women killed while using their “eelige maney” or veggie knives wrongly is in millions. Get real Green Horns: sure there is a risk associated with nuclear energy but that can be handled by people including Indians. Now go home and relax. The good general “9 Lakes” was worrying about it in SOM. The deadly combination of an earthquake and a tsunami can unsettle/destroy any structure. So it is only natural that Japanese Fukushima reactors behaved the way they did. Indians only need to worry about safety handling of nuclear related machinery and materials; give good training to workers; and be a little bit more practical and composed in viewing past and present nuclear disasters.

  20. twistleton Says:

    @Daily

    Cost benefit analysis.

    Diversification is always better than going whole hog along a single path.

    Renewable energy is cleaner than both nuclear and fossil fuel. Given the state of our waste management, there is very little hope that nuclear waste will be handled carefully.

    Also there seems to be no plans to decentralize power generation to minimize losses and reduce long-term costs. One size does not fit all.
    There will definitely be problems in implementation of renewable energy scemes as well (eg: wind energy with regard to land requirement, aesthetics and bird-hazard)

    Innovations in power generation for urban use – for example, the mechanical energy of pedestrians or vehicles plying on the road can be converted to electricity.

    Innovations in the field of solar energy to make it more affordable.

    Research to increase efficiency and life of batteries to augment the growth of the renewable energy field.

    While nuclear energy has caught the fancy of the government, they have to be wary of going overboard.

    Also, the entire terrain of India is seismically sensitive to varying degrees including the South which until recently was considered to be stable.

    One more extremely telling detail: why are nuclear suppliers loth to accept liability in case of Nuclear damage – the costs would spiral sky-high. Also in the wake of recent disasters, insurance coverage for nuclear installations would also be very very high.

    ***

    Besides land aquisition has always been a thorny issue in India. Nuclear installations will not be exempt from that.

  21. DailyBread Says:

    Twistle,

    >Diversification is always better than going whole hog along a single path

    Spot on, go for all, coal, oil, gas, nuclear, bagasse, husk, bio- diesel,hydel, tidal, wind, solar, etc. More the merrier……

    >Renewable energy is cleaner than both nuclear and fossil fuel.

    You may have spoken too soon. Don’t come back and start complaining about lead, zinc, nickel, cadmium, lithium, etc.

    >Innovations in the field of solar energy to make it more affordable.
    Research to increase efficiency and life of batteries to augment the growth of the renewable energy field.

    Two great suggestions. Please request GOI to create an “Innovation Fund” of Rs. 1,000 Crores and also an award of Rs. 50 crores for the commercially viable innovative/idea.

    While we are at it, please also request NAC to create an Energy Guarantee Fund of Rs. 50,000 Crores/annum. Rs 5 crores/annum for 5 years should go as seed funding/grant for 10,000 organizations which can create off-grid power using renewable energy sources. If mnarega is merged with this scheme the country will jiyega…

  22. Jayashree Says:

    US Government will have the final say!

  23. Dr. Sree Reddy Says:

    The Tokyo Electric Supply company was fooling and still fooling everbody with so called good safety standards of nuclear reactors.
    The top executives are smarter than our netas/babus. In order get a safety standards clearance, they just lowered the standards and declared safe. They knew it very well, the standards are low, may not be safe in case of a big earthquake. They hid all the information from the public. Japanese public used to trust its government a lot.
    Many Japanese citizens were not even aware that they have nearly 50 nuclear power plants in Japan!!
    It was US nulcear industry which forced them to have so many nulcear power plants.
    Reactor 4 contains Plutonium and is considered the most dangerous one.
    There is already enough raditaion that can be harmful to health.

    http://www.cnic.jp/english/

    Check on the above site.

    Some parts of India is also prone to earthquakes as dangerous as the recent one in Japan.
    We hardly have any earthquake proof standards for buildings.

  24. twistleton Says:

    Nothing is worth this:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/03/18/brave-fukushima-staff-on-suicide-mission-to-save-japan-from-nuclear-disaster-115875-22997376/

  25. Faldo Says:

    Sure, the risks associated with nuclear energy are unknown but we need to be clearly weighing our options for energy both long term and short term before accepting or rejecting it. Unfortunately, instead of an informed debate, this issue was turned into a question of prestige and has hardened positions on both sides.

    The recent disaster in Japan should serve as an opportunity for the government to do a cost benefit analysis with all factors considered. The naysayers should avoid making unsubstantiated doomsday predictions and instead press for more clear information.

  26. twistleton Says:

    Fools rush where angels fear to tread:

    Why the nuclear debate is not your run-of-the-mill development vs. environment debate:

    http://www.frontlineonnet.com/stories/20110408280709300.htm

  27. twistleton Says:

    In other words how the nuclear industry made suckers out of all of us :D

  28. Jaidev Says:

    I fear for Kalpakkam. It is near the ocean, the same one that was blasted by the 2004 tsunami. If there is a powerful quake in this region and tsunami comes, Kalpakkam and Chennai are finished. Maybe the safety standard was better when the Kalpakkam reactor was built in the early 1980s, but how about the maintenance? What about fail-safe plans if the reactor goes out of control? Do they have a containment chamber like Fukushima?

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