India stands firm on the need of nuclear expansion as a clean energy source for future
Amidst concerns over nuclear security in the wake of the Fukushima accident in Japan, 151 member states passed an action plan on nuclear safety at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference in Vienna on September 23.
The action plan was prepared by the office of IAEA after member states requested for the same in their declaration at the IAEA's ministerial conference on nuclear safety in June. Addressing the conference, Yukiya Amano, director general IAEA said that the plan is a blueprint for strengthening nuclear safety worldwide. With transparency at its core, the plan contains concrete and achievable actions to make nuclear safety post-Fukushima more robust and effective than before, he added.
The plan asks member states to promptly undertake a national assessment of the design of their nuclear power plants against site specific extreme natural hazards and to implement the necessary corrective actions in a timely manner. The IAEA, upon request, would undertake peer reviews of national assessments and provide additional support to member states. Amano urged member states to implement the action plan fully and vigorously. “It is the time for action and public expectations are very high,” he said.
IAEA admitted that the Fukushima nuclear accident had caused deep public anxiety about the safety of nuclear power. It has also made countries reconsider their nuclear strategies. Germany, for example, has decided to shutdown all reactors by 2022. Japan which is still picking up the pieces after the Fukushima disaster in March, is planning to cut its reliance on nuclear power. “In Japan there is a kind of consensus that we would like to reduce the dependency on nuclear power, but the speed with which that would be achieved or the method that would be used to attain such a target has yet to be identified,” said Goshi Hosono, Japan’s nuclear disaster minister.
Meanwhile, around 60,000 demonstrators protested in Tokyo demanding phasing out of atomic energy. Countries like France and Germany asked for stricter safety measures in the action plan.
With uncertainty prevailing over the future of nuclear energy, IAEA has lowered its projections for its growth to 2030 by 8 per cent. In its annual forecast published in Vienna, the nuclear agency now estimates that 501 gigawatts of nuclear power generating capacity will be installed by 2030, compared to a previous estimate of 546 gigawatts.
However, India stood firm on its stand on the need of nuclear expansion as a clean energy source for future. "The role of nuclear power as a safe, clean and viable source to meet energy needs, as well as to adequately address the concerns of global warming and climate change, cannot be undermined," said Srikumar Banerjee, chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission on the third day of the five-day general conference. "This is all the more so for developing countries and emerging economies, which aim to provide a better quality of life for its people," he added.
Banerjee also allayed fears of Fukushima like accidents, saying that the mishap had caused "far fewer" human casualties than other power-generation methods.
According to IAEA, most of the nuclear growth will occur in countries like China and India that already have operating nuclear power plants.
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