Supreme Court gives go ahead to Kudankulam nuclear power plant

Rules in favour of larger public interest; says plant is safe

By Anupam Chakravartty
Last Updated: Thursday 17 September 2015


The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed petitions questioning the safety of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, saying nuclear energy is the need of the future and present generations. The judgement comes close on the heels of the country's nuclear power watchdog, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), admitting that four crucial valves in the reactors are faulty. (See timeline: A 25-year campaign)

The petitioners in the case, the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), have termed the judgement as anti-people. PMANE, a local movement for the safety of the villages around Kudankulam nuclear power plant, said the protest against the nuclear plant would continue.  

A bench comprising justice K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Mishra said in the verdict (download copy of judgment as pdf) that the plant is safe and secure and it is necessary in the larger public interest and welfare of the people. The petitioners argued that 17 recommendations of the AERB task force have not been strictly followed by the operator, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). Earlier in August, AERB had stated that only six out of 17 conditions had been followed by the plant operator. AERB in its affidavit filed in the Madras High Court had stated that the rest of the remaining conditions would be implemented in a phased manner which could be completed either in six months or may take up to two years.

Petitioner G Sundarajan said that AERB in a related case had earlier stated that only after the fulfilment of 17 conditions, the fuel in the nuclear reactors would be loaded. However, when the petitioners approached the Supreme Court in September after the Madras High Court allowed the authorities to start fuel loading in the reactors, a stay on the fuelling process could not be obtained.

In the course of last three months when the case was argued in the apex court, AERB had submitted that all the six conditions have been fulfilled, although on April 19, AERB admitted that four valves, which are a part of a special cooling system installed in the nuclear reactors to avert a Fukushima-like meltdown, were faulty. AERB claimed in a press statement that the all the faulty valves have been replaced after examination by the authorities.

Safety concerns follow corruption probe

Meanwhile, charges of corruption have been levelled against the suppliers of the reactors for giving sub-standard equipment to the nuclear plant. Less than a month ago, the Russian authorities arrested Sergei Shutov, the director of Zio-Podolsk, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian atomic energy corporation, on charges of corruption, fraud and supplying cheap Ukrainian steel blanks and steam generators in nuclear reactors. The first of the two 1,000 MW VVER nuclear reactors at Kudankulam Project (KKNP-1), under commissioning and testing, is supplied by Rosatom, through its subsidiary Atomstroyexport.  Former chairperson of AERB A Gopalakrishnan has demanded an immediate investigation into the safety of the Kudankulam plant in India as Podolsk supplied the materials to the reactor.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court allowed NPCIL to load fuel in the reactors as the all the expert committees appointed earlier to assess the safety of the nuclear power plant had arrived at one decision – that the plant is safe. As of now KNPPP has already fuelled unit 1 of the nuclear plant, while the first two units will start later this year.


Supreme Court judgement dated 06/05/2013 on Kudankulam nuclear power plant

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  • There are so many radio

    There are so many radio active substances in a nuclear power plant which are released into the air and the surrounding atmosphere, which contaminate air, water and soil continuously. When they are absorbed into animal and human body, they become especially carcinogenic and mutable, making good use of favourable conditions existing in animal corpuscles. Vent stacks and drain pipes of the plants carry strontium, tritium, caesium, plutonium, argon, krypton, xenon and carbon this way to the outside atmosphere, eventually causing them to reach where they never shall reach. Every atomic scientist and engineer knows this and that is why stringent regulations have been imposed on the quantity of these materials which can be released from each plant without causing drastic and massive effects of mutation and cancer in biological organisms in and around the plant and in distant populations if the wind is catastrophic. The maximum level of radioactive release through exhaust systems in a single nuclear plant annually is 50 trillion becquerels for tritium, 30 billion becquerels for airborne particles, 10 billion becquerels for radioactive isotope 131 of iodine and one quadrillion becquerels for carbon and inert gases like argon, krypton and xenon. In spite of checking implements installed or not, the regular release of these highly toxic materials into the environment is many times higher in every nuclear plant in the world. It is not practical or feasible for the Atomic Energy Regulation Agency to regularly visit these plants scattered every where and check when and where regulations are violated, so it would always be the plant management seeing to it.

    Massive release of these toxins freely to the environment happens daily everywhere and old people, women, children, human embryos and even healthy young men regularly get radiated for no fault of theirs. In assessing the effects of radiation on person caused by the toxic releases from a nuclear plant, the standard adopted at present is referring to a non-existent healthy young man, referred to as ÔÇÿReference ManÔÇÖ. Susceptibility and sensitivity of women, fragile children and human embryos to radiation from toxins is not at all considered and taken into account by the world scientists and statesmen. They pretend that such a factor does not exist at all. Mentioning radiation injuries is taboo in international safety reports on nuclear energy. In their attempts to justify the functioning of nuclear installations, they even refer to mild doses of radiation as having beneficial and curing effects on human body, like small quantities of radiation supposedly curing cancer in the earlier stages. There are enough scientists available and remaining in the world to reiterate that small dose radiation causes no damage or only a minor damage. Many of them remind us of the fact that we already are living under a shower of radiation from the Sun and other cosmic bodies. What they do not tell us is that cosmic radiation from heavenly bodies comes to us from unthinkable distances of millions of light years whereas radiation from their nuclear installations comes to us from metres away. Mankind has known no radioactive particles in the universe whose intensity does not diminish with distance except perhaps the neutrino whose effects are arguably stable but which always has been with us, inside and around us, since the beginning of the universe. Every kind of particle is the strongest and the most intense near its source. And every kind of radiation from a man-made source without the inhibitions of universal balancing is dangerous, mild or strong. That radioactive emission from nuclear installations are utterly harmful and that they are the most intense nearer their source, is evident from the statistically proven fact that the susceptibility of children to cancer is far greater in areas closer to nuclear installations. When we say this, we expect governments to come forward with statistics to prove this, but unfortunately, misled by their desperation and craze for nuclear energy, the first reaction of those in government would be to refute this charge and order classification and hiding of statistics easily available to them. These statistics and safety reports on malfunctioning nuclear installations are almost always classified as military documents, the disclosure or criticism of which made to be warranting arrest and incarceration. The meaning is, governments would even kill, for a few yearsÔÇÖ steady flow of electricity from a nuclear source.

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