Spreading the light of humanity & freedom
LAW FIXING - INDIANS & INDIA SOLD OUT TO MNCs DIRT CHEAP
Are the lives of Indians Cheaper than Electricity produced by nuclear power -- Government Backing for Criminal Corporations
Recently , both houses of parliament has passed the bill “Nuclear Accident Liability Bill” , where by our learned MPs have sold the lives of Indians Dirt Cheap. The Cap of 1500 crore rupees spread over crores of Indians living near the nuclear facilities considering the population density works out to just few thousands. Even the government pays money above 1500 crore cap , it is the tax payer’s money , our own money. The Profit is made , enjoyed , siphoned off by MNC to it’s overseas office , while for their wrong doing , we have to suffer & pay money from our own pocket for ourselves. It is ridiculous.
HEREBY , WE DO REQUEST H.E.PRESIDENT OF INDIA , TO REJECT THE SAID BILL & SEND IT BACK TO PARLIAMENT FOR AMENDMENTS.
Before enacting the law on “Nuclear Accident Liability Bill” , Government of India should consider the following issues
1. The term Nuclear Accident must include the damages caused due to radiation leak affecting the employees in the nuclear facility , the people living near the facility & people affected by the effluents , scraps generated by the nuclear facility.
2. The government of India does not have any right to fix a price tag for the lives of Indians , that too cheaper than US public.
3. The Nuclear power generating companies must incorporate safety infrastructure & procedures as they do in US market , not any obsolete technology.
4. In USA & other developing countries , they have very huge , efficient social security network , vast pool of resources put in by nuclear power generating companies themselves , to take care of the affected in case of a nuclear accident . In India we don’t have that type of social security network nor matching resources , therefore ideally India must fix a nuclear liability cap much higher than US market in dollar terms.
5. Also the company must be made liable for the complete clean up of the facility & surrounding towns , villages , health care to all the affected victims on par with US market , in case a nuclear accident happens.
6. The Nuclear Equipment Suppliers , Nuclear Plant Operators together with their respective governments like USA , UK must stand as guarantors .
7. The Life Insurance Companies in India Must pay insured amount to nominees of insured in case of nuclear accidents / radiation affects in addition to compensation by the nuclear power companies . as of now many life insurance companies are not covering nuclear accidents / radiation affects.
Neither our MPs , Cabinet ministers nor IAS babus have the right to decide the fate of common people & fix a rate for lives of Indians. They are not experts in this field , they should not conclude any deals , decisions in a hush hush manner . Many scams have come out of hush hush deals . Nobody , no MP , no minister , no IAS officer has paid from his personal pocket to the victims of industrial disasters , etc. After all MPs , Ministers , IAS babus are public servants , they must just represent the voices of people , we people don’t want their personal expertise & opinions. Our Policy makers must heed to the public advice of senior scientists , experts in the field of nuclear power generation .
Ofcourse , as a result unit price of electricity will get front loaded , we may not get cheap electricity . but the lives of Indians are much valuable than Electricty. The person who benefits from cheap electricity – Industrialists does not pay from his pocket to the victims of disasters . Development not at the cost of safety & lives. This must dawn on our ill informed policy makers at the earliest . Jai Hind . Vande Mataram .
Your’s Sincerely ,
By Gopal Krishna
Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi
Sub: Human rights violations from nuclear damage - its impact on human life and enviro-occupational health
This Hon’ble Commission has been seriously pursuing the problem of “enviro-occupational health”, and has been taking “preventive” as well as “remedial” measures. It is humbly brought to your notice that there is another equally serious enviro-occupational hazard which is exposure from radioactive radiations and wastes. The issue of liability for nuclear damage is directly linked to it. The grave problem of diseases caused to present and future generations by radiation exposures is required to be addressed as it affects environment and human health and violates Article 21 of the Constitution, Directive Principles as well as “human rights” as defined under the UDHR, ICCPR and ICESCR.
2. That at the outset, the Applicant wishes to refer to the problem of exposure from radioactive radiations. The Supreme Court has looked at the entire issue, keeping in view the Directive Principles as well as Article 21 of the Constitution, and held that “life” includes right to health and medical care etc. There is no database on the records of the Government to show, to the best of Applicant’s knowledge, as to what actions the Government has taken, namely, how many persons have been reported to be suffering from exposure to radioactive radiation? How many have died? Did they receive any compensation? How many persons suffering from it are receiving treatment?
3. That the Applicant is an environmental health researcher who was invited to make submissions before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests following a written submission on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010 which is meant to pave the way for India to sign International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage, 1997.
4. That in its 25 page report on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on 18th August, 2010.observes, “When the Committee inquired from the Secretaries of Ministries/Departments of Government of India who appeared before the Committee as to whether the draft nuclear liability Bill was referred to them for their views/comments, some of them viz. Ministries of Health & Family Welfare, Agriculture, Labour & Employment, Food & Public Distribution, etc. replied in the negative. The Committee is of the opinion that Government must have sought the opinion of Ministries which are even distantly related to any provision of the legislation. The Committee, therefore, recommends that in future Government should consult all such Ministries/ Departments which are even remotely concerned with the provisions of a proposed legislation.” This Hon’ble Commission may take cognizance of the submissions of these Secretaries and direct the concerned authorities to internalize their suggestions in the text of the Bill to protect the human rights of Indian citizens and safeguard intergenerational equity.
5. That, in view of the facts mentioned above, the applicant humbly submits that the Hon’ble Commission may kindly initiate appropriate proceedings and issue directions to all the concerned Secretaries of the Central Government and relevant States/UTs with regard to the following :
How would they respond in the event of a nuclear disaster?
Do they know as to how many industries/factories exist in the States/UTs where radioactive material is used? Is there an inventory of products wherein the said material is used?
What is the total number of workers employed in the nuclear power industries and other nuclear installations?
Whether there is regular medical check-up and whether medical facilities exist for workers and communities in the vicinity of nuclear installations?
Whether there is any record of persons who died because of radioactive radiation?
How many persons suffer from radioactive radiation and whether they are receiving regular treatment for the said disease?
What steps States/UTs have taken to check/prevent occurrence of radioactive radiations and how many hospitals dealing with the enviro-occupational diseases exist in the States/UTs.
How many institutions in the country have the competence to decontaminate and how many medical, occupational health and scientific institutions can diagnose radiation exposure?
What action has been taken by the central government and the State Governments/UTs have taken to protect exposure from radiation in the future?
6. That it is submitted that this Hon’ble Commission for the purpose of collecting the above information, may also take the benefit of its experience in the case of enviro- occupational diseases which are preventable but incurable. By giving medicines, impact of radioactive radiation can be reduced and life span can be prolonged but ultimately fate of the affected person is painful death. A brief note on the issue of liability from nuclear damage and the submissions of the concerned Secretaries of the central government is enclosed as Annexure A
7. That the applicant wishes to bring to this Hon’ble Commission’s notice that India has ratified Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) but its provisions have not been complied with. India is yet to ratify ILO’s Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974 which is concerning Prevention and Control of Occupational Hazards caused by Carcinogenic Substances and Agents took cognizance of the Radiation Protection Convention and Radiation Protection Recommendation. It refers to the work done by International Agency for Research on Cancer and The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) that provides guidance on all aspects of protection against ionising radiation. Article 6 of the ILO's Radiation Protection Convention with regard to “Maximum permissible doses of ionising radiations which may be received from sources external to or internal to the body and maximum permissible amounts of radioactive substances which can be taken into the body” has been ignored. Article 7 of the Convention calls for “Appropriate levels” be fixed in accordance with Article 6 for workers who are directly engaged in radiation work and are (a) aged 18 and over; (b) under the age of 18, No worker under the age of 16 to be engaged in work involving ionising radiations and Article 8 that seeks “Appropriate levels (to be) fixed in accordance with Article 6 for workers who are not directly engaged in radiation work, but who remain or pass where they may be exposed to ionising radiations or radioactive substances.” Drafters of the Nuclear Liability Bill appear to have ignored their recommendations.
8. It is humbly prayed that this Hon’ble Commission may enquire /investigate into the problem of radioactive radiation and issue necessary directions/recommendation for its prevention and appropriate remedial steps to the Central Government/State Governments and UTs.
And It Has Far More Dangerous Implications
By Dr. E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to Government of India
Shoddy Parts, Shabby Leaders, And Shaky Indian Lives!
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) accuses that the corrupt Congress Party and government in India, the Indian nuclear establishment and the Russian nuclear establishment consider Indian lives base and valueless and prepare to put our lives in danger for their own profits, commissions, power and prominence.
The Koodankulam reactors present a clear and present danger to the safety and well-being of Indian citizens with many substandard equipment and parts supplied by discredited Russian companies such as ZiO-Podolsk, Informtekh and Izhorskiye Zavody. The NPCIL has just confirmed officially (in its letter No. NPCIL/VSB/CPIO/2574/KKNPP/2013/737 dated April 29, 2013) that the controversial and corruption-ridden M/S ZiO Podolsk has supplied the following equipment and parts to the KKNPP: “Steam Generators, Cation and anion filters, Mechanical Filter, Moisture Separator and Reheater, Boric solution storage tanks, Regenerative blow down heat exchanger, Pipelines and fittings of different systems, Insulation materials, PHRS Heat exchanger.” In other words, the Koodankulam project in its entirety is unsafe and dangerous.
In February 2012, the procurement director, Mr. Sergei Shutov of Zio-Podolsk was arrested for buying low quality and cheap raw material, passing it off as more expensive grade and pocketing the difference. Another Russian court has convicted one Mr. Alexander Murach, Director of another notorious Russian company, Informtekh, for fraud and sentenced him to three years in prison for selling counterfeit measuring equipment for the Russian nuclear power plants' turbines.
This technological horror is compounded by the moronic and imbecilic attitude and announcements of people from the Indian nuclear establishment and the Congress government in Delhi. The Indian nuclear industry’s gruesome Goebbels and Minister of State at the PMO, Mr. V. Narayanasamy, leads this pack with little understanding of how dangerous the Koodankulam project is and what is at stake for all Indians. The basic premise underneath all this recklessness is the little value they all attach to Indian lives.
Our friends have just filed an affidavit/application in the Indian Supreme Court about corruption and substandard reactor and equipment in KKNPP in connection with a pending case. But Mr. Narayanasamy has told the Rajya Sabha that the External Affairs Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid has conveyed to the Russian side that the first unit of the Kudankulam power project is at sub-critical stage and is expected to be commissioned "any day" in May.
Do these Congress Ministers in New Delhi know that reputed car companies, pet food manufacturers, tooth paste producers and toy makers have recalled their products just to respect human safety and well-being?
In October 2012 Toyota company recalled 7.4 million cars after discovering faulty window switches in 12 of its world-famous models. It was the biggest single recall since Ford had taken 8 million vehicles off the road in 1996 for a faulty ignition module. In November 2012 Toyota called back 2.8 million cars to fix faulty steering columns and water pumps.
On March 16, 2007, popular brands of pet food were withdrawn across the United States because of the presence of ‘melamine,’ an industrial chemical found in plastics and resins. In July 2007, the European Union’s RAPEX (rapid alert system) had alerted the member states' governments to pull two brands of Chinese-made toothpaste, Spearmint and Trileaf Spearmint, from the European shelves because they contained ‘diethylene glycol,’ a constituent of anti-freeze. In August 2007, the world's biggest toy company, Mattel, recalled millions of toys modeled on Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Elmo, and Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer because of high lead levels in the paint used.
The Hindu, Chennai
The reactor’s design differs from the plan that Russia and India came up with when they agreed to build the reactor in 1988, according to the documents published by India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
The design of the reactor pressure vessel, which contains the reactor coolant and core, was not supposed to have welds in its core region, the bulletin said. The vessel has two welds there, it said.
People who live near the Kudankulam plant and the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy called this deviation a “serious breach of contract” that exposes the plant to high failure risk and a higher possibility of offsite radiological contamination.
“This is a breach of contract by the supplier in Russia. NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India) officers who knew [about] this breach are guilty of causing future financial loss by choosing lower quality equipment,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, environmental researcher and member of the Chennai Solidarity Group for Kudankulam Struggle.
RS Sundar, the plant’s site director, denied that it was a “breach of contract”. “The original discussion between Indian and Russian governments on procuring reactor vessels without welds was based on futuristic thinking,” he told me. “But that was not possible technologically at the time of procurement.”
Addressing safety, Sundar said, “all the 400-plus light water reactors in operation across the globe [have] welds in the core zone.”
India’s nuclear program in its early years was an epitome of national pride as most of the technology was domestically developed, with India not being a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But with the lifting of a ban by the Nuclear Suppliers Group and after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the feeling of pride has been replaced by safety concerns among the general public, especially those living around the project areas. There are 20 nuclear power plants in India spread across six states producing a total of 4780 megawatts of electricity. Three new projects including Kudankulam are near completion.
The controversy over the reactor welds is one of many problems that have kept the anti-nuclear protests alive in Kudankulam. Another is over the source of fresh water for the plant’s cooling towers.
The Environmental Impact Assessment conducted in 2003 assumes that the Pechiparai Reservoir will be the source of fresh water, with a reserve of 60,000 cubic metres. Farmers have protested the use of reservoir water, however, and now there are four plants for desalinating ocean water. The environmental impact of using this water has not been assessed.
The on-campus water reserve was also reduced to 12,000 cubic metres, 20 percent of what was proposed. Environmentalists say that this is a “serious breach of safety” by the government’s nuclear authorities, especially after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.
While the limited information available to the public has mobilised some people against the project, the nuclear power corporation authorities are keeping other reports private.
The Safety Analysis Report is one of the key documents that protesters have demanded that the NPCIL release. Despite efforts to get that information, the nuclear power corporation has been reluctant to share it claiming it was a third party document. Russian atomic supplier, Atomstroyexport, is not bound by the civil nuclear liability law because the law, which holds the operator liable for nuclear damages, was drafted after the 1988 agreement to design the plant.
This reticence has turned people who have a neutral or even positive opinion on nuclear power against the project. What might people think about nuclear power in India if the government chose to be more forthcoming about its facilities? Surely, it would be a more positive view than it seems to be now.
Thousands of people including the elderly, women and children are protesting against the commissioning of the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in south India. They are sleeping outside the walls in extreme conditions against the anti-people and opaque practices followed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, the Tamil Nadu state and Indian central governments. They have been met with police intimidation, state violence, false charges and imprisonment for peacefully airing their views and demanding their democratic rights. Now police have lathi charged them into the sea and fired tear gas and water cannons at them.
They have been protesting peacefully for many months now after the first series of protest began in 1988. They have had several hunger strikes including a relay one since August 2011. Their health fast deteriorated in the extreme summer heat and some of them have been admitted to hospital. About 23,000 people have surrendered their voter cards in protest. Their families were later denied use of their ration cards with access to essential provisions such as food. Despite official promises, their demands about the legality and safety of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) have not been met.
The Indian government has announced that the first reactor at Koodankulam will go critical in September. More than 55,000 people have been falsely charged including for sedition and 'war against the state'. This makes a travesty of democracy.
Please sign the petition and express your support for those who are wrongfully charged for voicing an opinion against nuclear reactors and for those forced to live next to nuclear reactors in a tsunami, volcanic and earthquake zone where there is a water shortage.
Organise, protest, contact media, human and environmental rights organisations, social networks, politicians, locally and globally including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa (Chief Secretary email@example.com Additional Chief Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org )
This appeal is not from any movement under a ‘foreign hand’ but from people holding hands in solidarity across the world. We support the development of India but only when it is on safe, equitable and sustainable grounds. As Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown, nuclear dangers are a global and human concern, not simply a national one.
Wind power is already providing double the amount of electricity than from nuclear reactors and at a fraction of the cost to the tax payer, the environment and health without producing any dangerous waste. Wind power even supplies electricity to the Koodankulam nuclear township.
This petition demands a commitment and definite time-frame as to the following:
 The ongoing work at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) must be halted and the following steps must be taken immediately.
 As the Central Information Commission (CIC) has instructed the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), the accurate and full versions of the Safety Analysis Report and the Site Evaluation Report must be released to the public immediately. And the full and final post-Fukushima safety audit report must also be released to the press and the public.
 A new and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report must be commissioned as the one that the DAE has released after 23 years of struggle is incomplete, erroneous and outdated. The Tamil and Malayalam translations of the new EIA must be shared with the local people and the Press in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
 The opinions and preferences of the project-affected people must be heard by a competent authority in an open, transparent and democratic manner.
 An independent national committee must be constituted to study the issues of geology, hydrology, oceanography and seismology involved in the Koodankulam nuclear power plant.
 Disaster management training and evacuation exercises must be conducted in the 30-km radius of the Koodankulam plants and beyond in the wake of the recent earthquake all over Tamil Nadu and India.
 A Tamil Nadu State Assembly Resolution must be passed that the Pechipparai dam water from Kanyakumari District and the Tamirabharani river water from Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi Districts will not be taken for the KKNPP reactors.
 A copy of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on liability secretly signed between the governments of India and Russia must be made available to the project-affected public.
 Complete and truthful information must be given to the local people and the citizens of India about nuclear waste that would be produced at the Koodankulam plants and its management.
 All the false cases against the members of the struggle committee and the common people must be withdrawn immediately and unconditionally. People that peacefully protested against the nuclear plant are still languishing in prison and must be released immediately.
 The local people's right to protest peacefully and nonviolently against the KKNPP and other related issues must be respected and honored. And no more false cases and other intimidatory exercises should be used against the struggling people.
- BILL LIMITS LIABILITY OF OPERATOR TO RS 5OO CRORE, ANYTHING ABOVE WILL BE GOVT RESPONSIBILITY
Answers to questions on the nuclear damage bill the Centre withdrew from the Lok Sabha on Monday
What is the bill’s purpose?
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill seeks to set down mechanisms and rules for liability claims and payments that might arise because of a nuclear incident and to pave the way for India to join an international liability regime.
What kind of nuclear liability regime does India have at present?
All of India’s nuclear power reactors and nuclear facilities are owned by the central government, or by the Nuclear Power Corporation and Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (Bhavini) — both public sector enterprises. Any liability issues that emerge from incidents become the responsibility of the central government. The inter-government agreements between India and Russia under which Russia has supplied two nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu do not clarify liability issues. This has meant uncertainty over trans-boundary liability issues.
Why has the bill become necessary now?
The Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement allows US suppliers to sell nuclear power reactors to India. But the companies have been concerned about the absence of a well-defined nuclear liability regime in India. Environmental groups believe foreign companies will be reluctant to invest without a liability regime in place because they do not want to run the risk of having to compensate without a cap for a nuclear incident. Without the bill, under the existing legal regime, a company may have to encounter absolute, unlimited and non-delegable liability.
What does the bill propose?
A leaked version of the proposed bill circulated by environmental groups indicates that the government plans to cap the maximum liability for each nuclear incident to 300 million Special Drawing Rights ($460 million or Rs 2,100 crore). This is lower than the $470 million settlement in the Bhopal gas disaster.
If the claims for compensation for nuclear damage exceed SDR 300 million, an additional 300 million SDR may be available through an international convention.
The liability of a nuclear power operator (so far only the NPC and Bhavini) for each nuclear incident will be Rs 500 crore. The limit will also apply to private companies if they are allowed entry into the sector.
The central government will be liable for nuclear damage if the liability exceeds the operator’s limit.
Why has this generated controversy?
The bill has generated the widespread perception that it will allow US companies to go scot-free in the event of a nuclear accident and saddle the Indian government with the liability — in other words, Indian taxpayers will have to pay for damages. Some environmental activists are contrasting the proposed Indian cap of $460 million with the much larger $10 billion pool of funds available in the US to cover liability and provide compensation to the public in the event of a nuclear accident. Some legal experts are arguing that there is no place for a cap on liability under Indian law. Any such legislation would be vulnerable and open to challenge and could be easily struck down as a violation of the environmental jurisprudence established by India’s Supreme Court.
Will the bill really allow foreign companies to go scot-free?
A clause in the bill appears to allow the nuclear operator to have “a right to recourse” —which would mean the operator could seek assistance — when the nuclear incident has resulted from negligence on the part of a foreign supplier of a material, equipment or service. However, this would have to be reflected in written contracts between the Indian operator (the NPC, for now) and the foreign suppliers. Environmental groups are sceptical, and fear that this will not emerge in actual contracts.
How is the bill linked to the international nuclear liability regime?
The Convention on Supplementary Compensation under the International Atomic Energy Agency provides for an international fund to compensate for nuclear damage in the event of an accident. The convention envisages a two-tier system — the state will ensure availability of at least 300 million SDR, and an international fund for which all participating nations are obliged to contribute. Any country that plans to join will have to ensure its national legislation is consistent with the convention’s provisions. By enacting domestic legislation, India could join the convention and — should the event arise — also seek money from the much larger international fund, which could help India access an additional 300 million SDR.
How is nuclear liability covered in the US?
The Price-Anderson Act enacted in 1957 ensures the availability of a large pool of funds — about $10 billion — to provide compensation to people who incur damages from a nuclear accident — no matter who is liable.
Have nuclear liability claims been paid in the US?
The American Nuclear Society estimates that the nuclear insurance pools have paid a total of $151 million in the past 43 years. The US energy department has paid $65 million.
What kind of liability regimes do other countries have?
They vary from country to country. Belgium has set a liability amount of 300 million Euros, and the France 91.5 million Euros, and the UK £40 million. Germany has set unlimited liability though a financial security limit is set at about 2,500 million Euros. Japan also has unlimited liability, but a maximum financial security limit of 60 billion yen.
India's Sham Nuclear Liability Bill
By Toxic Watch
New Delhi: British Petroleum (BP) is facing a bill of up to $34 billion from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. After US senators demanded, the oil company deposited $20 billion (about Rs 92000 crores) into a ring-fenced account to meet escalating compensation costs but the way Indian legislators are agreeing to a Rs 1500 crore cap on nuclear disaster from large nuclear power plants, Rs 300 crore cap for institutions involved in reprocessing fuel and Rs 100 crore cap for small research reactors is unacceptable and condemnable.
Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and ex-officio Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, one of the drafters of the Bill is guilty of ignoring the consequences of possible nuclear disaster because his text has privatized profits and made liabilities public. Mamohan Singh who is in-charge of Department of Atomic Energy appears to be guilty of dereliction of duty as well. The Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests chaired by T Subbirami Reddy reveals their culpability quite categorically. This report was tabled in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on 18th August, 2010. Report attached What else can explain their indifference towards other concerned ministries like health, agriculture, labour, water resources etc. Aren’t they relevant? What can explain the lack of consensus among the committee members even in matters of national interest?
India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010 is meant to pave the way for India to sign International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage, 1997. The question that stares citizens in the face is: whether or not the proposed liability Bill and the pre-existing IAEA’s compensation treaty in the supreme interest of present and future generation of Indians? If India decides to join the CSC, it will be an exercise in surrendering its sovereignty to a conflict of interest ridden regime like IAEA which is both the promoter and regulator of nuclear commerce. Like IAEA, Indian the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is dependent on the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) whose mandate is charged with promoting nuclear power in India.
The Parliamentary Committee enquired from Nirupama Rao , the Foreign Secretary that “whether there are other considerations apart from the legal requirements that necessitated the Bill.” She informed that “since the Government is operating within the ambit of international agreements and on the basis of certain principles the nation should have provisions of the nuclear liability Bill.”
This is further corroborated by two members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee namely, Saman Pathak and Barun Mukherji. Both have observed categorically that the provisions of the Bill will unduly favour the foreign suppliers of nuclear equipment and it is being done to make the provisions compatible with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC). Like all Indians both these members are not convinced with the rationale of India joining the CSC because this legislation on civil nuclear liability does not “keep the interests of the Indian people, who may be affected in a nuclear accident, as its core concern'.
In its 25 page report on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests observes, “When the Committee inquired from the Secretaries of Ministries/Departments of Government of India who appeared before the Committee as to whether the draft nuclear liability Bill was referred to them for their views/comments, some of them viz. Ministries of Health & Family Welfare, Agriculture, Labour & Employment, Food & Public Distribution, etc. replied in the negative. The Committee is of the opinion that Government must have sought the opinion of Ministries which are even distantly related to any provision of the legislation. The Committee, therefore, recommends that in future Government should consult all such Ministries/ Departments which are even remotely concerned with the provisions of a proposed legislation.”
It is noteworthy that the 25-member working group on civil nuclear energy-2009 constituted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) under the chairmanship of Dr S K Jain, chairman and managing director, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited came out with a 57-page report with the format of the proposed Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill. Dr Jain was present during the testimony of the experts and citizens to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests. The government of India has an ambitious target "to increase our installed capacity more than seven fold to 35,000 MWe by the year 2022, and to 60,000 MWe by 2032." Established in pre-independent India in 1927, FICCI is the largest and oldest apex business organization of the country. It claims to be a “non-government, not-for-profit organisation”. FICCI has direct membership from the private as well as public sectors, including SMEs and MNCs, and an indirect membership of over 83,000 companies from regional chambers of commerce. As part of its corporate lobbying, “FICCI works closely with the government on policy issues, enhancing efficiency, competitiveness and expanding business opportunities for industry through a range of specialised services and global linkages. It also provides a platform for sector specific consensus building and networking.” In such conflict of interest ridden circumstances, Dr Jain claimed that the health hazards from Chernobyl nuclear disaster is no more visible. Therefore, he implied that the questions of intergenerational adverse effects do not arise. Are his claims factual and trustworthy?
Under the influence of FICCI and US nuclear industry, Dr.T. Subbarami Reddy, Dr Mammohan Singh and Dr Srikumar Banerjee have chosen not learn from the mistakes of US firms who embarked on a nuclear power strategy under the assumption that the radioactive waste management problem was not difficult and would be solved relatively quickly. Subsequent events have proved otherwise because radioactive waste management efforts are quite different from industrial and municipal waste management.
Observations of G K Pillai, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs illustrate how Banerjee has not been rigorous in the drafting of the Bill. While commenting on the conditions in which the operator of a nuclear power plant, who could be made liable for nuclear damage, Pillai stated that the Bill contains such terms as armed conflict, hostilities, civil war, insurrection or an act of terrorism that have wide meanings but have not been defined in the present Bill. Therefore there is a need for inserting meanings of these terms from other laws, in Section 2 of this Bill. Such vagueness in connotations can make the operators negligent in observing security procedures and can create situations of disputes between the operator and the central government.
It is frightening to know that any nuclear incident may induce radioactive contaminations in surface, ground water bodies, and other water resources. U N Panjiar, the Secretary, Water resources was of the opinion that the Ministry does not have any facility for testing water quality, from point of view of nuclear contamination because this work has been done by the Department of Atomic Energy. The efficiency of Department of Atomic Energy gets routinely revealed in issues ranging from radioactive steel, ship breaking industry, Mayapuri scrap market, Kaiga incident etc. Didn’t AERB reveal its incompetence when it declared Mayapuri scrap market radiation free when it was proven later that the radiation still existed in the area? Didn’t it do the same after inspecting the obsolete ship Blue Lady?
While Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy responded by saying that Ministry of Water Resources has not been involved in checking and monitoring the quality of water because this job is done by the Environmental Survey Laboratories of the Department of Atomic Energy, the fact remains the Bill should have been sent to the Water Resources Ministry as well because Department of Atomic Energy deals with point source of radioactive pollution and not with non-point source of pollution. It is saddening that Ministry of Water Resources conceded that since expertise is available in DAE alone, the Ministry need not be consulted. Panjiar rightly stressed upon the need to study the impact of nuclear contaminated water on human beings, animals, plants and crops. The Bill does not make any provision for such efforts. In such a context it is germane to recollect that more than 51 years ago, on 28 May 1959, the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s assembly voted into force an agreement with the IAEA, a UN agency that prevented the WHO from investigating, warning and revealing the dangers of nuclear radiation on health. The agreement is attached.
Coincidentally, K Sujata Rao, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare while deposing before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests mentioned that “while drafting the Bill the Dept. of Atomic Energy did not consult them. Since the response system to deal with any kind of emergency of such type, the hospitals are not well-equipped, it is natural that mortality and morbidity due to multiple burn, blasts, radiation injuries and psycho-social impact could be on very high scale and medical tackling of such a large emergency could have enough repercussions in the nearby areas of radioactive fallout. She also mentioned that in the entire Bill, there is not a single clause which speaks about taking health care during radiological emergencies. It reflects only about payment of compensation due to health impacts of such radiation. She suggested while setting up nuclear plants consideration may also be given to the fact that there should be hospital having trained doctors near such establishments and arrangements should also be made for free treatment of people who are affected by serious nuclear fallout.” She confessed that her Ministry is nowhere to meet an eventuality that may arise out of nuclear and radiological emergencies. Present and future generation of India would slaute Sujatha Rao for her exemplary conduct to safeguard her compatriots.
Clearly, objectives of Health Ministry and Department of Atomic Energy are at loggerheads in the same way as objectives of WHO and IAEA are. The former is dedicated to promoting health and the latter exists to promote nuclear commerce. Under the agreement between WHO and IAEA, the two agencies must "keep each other fully informed concerning all projected activities and all programs of work which may be of interest to both parties". Notably, probe into the health impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine on 26 April 1986 was taken over by IAEA and dissenting voices were suppressed. The health effects of the nuclear accident were the subject of two major conferences, in Geneva in 1995, and in Kiev, Ukrain in 2001. The full proceedings of those conferences remain unpublished. The programme and conclusions of the Kiev Conference is attached. The Kiev conference was organised by WHO Association of "Physicians of Chernobyl" in co-operation with UN agencies. There is no evidence to suggest that our Department of Atomic Energy or the Parliamentary Standing Committee had accessed the documents of these conferences and drew lessons from it.
IAEA’s International Conference on Chernobyl - Looking Back to Go Forwards Towards a United Nations Consensus on the Effects of the Accident and the Future, Vienna, September, 2005 was a public relations exercise by the nuclear industry that promoted such risk models for nuclear radiation that understated the true hazards. Chris Busby, the scientific secretary of European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) and visiting professor at the University of Ulster's school of biomedical sciences observes, "The subordination of the WHO to IAEA is a key part of the systematic falsification of nuclear risk which has been under way ever since Hiroshima, the agreement creates an unacceptable conflict of interest in which the UN organisation concerned with promoting our health has been made subservient to those whose main interest is the expansion of nuclear power. Dissolving the WHO-IAEA agreement is a necessary first step to restoring the WHO's independence to research the true health impacts of ionising radiation and publish its findings."
Disregarding lessons from 26 years of Bhopal disaster, even in the 24th anniversary year of the Chernobyl disaster the WHO-IAEA Agreement is yet to be abandoned. ECRR has called for its abandonment. India too should call for freeing WHO from hiding facts about health effect from nuclear hazards due to the agreement.
Amidst public relations blitzkrieg of nuclear companies, it is not surprising that Banerjee, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy expressed his touching faith in the nuclear power companies of all ilk and informed the Parliamentary Committee that the “Reactor at Chernobyl did not have a containment, while old reactors in India have containments and, therefore, Chernobyl type incident can never take place in India.” Is it because of such divine belief in the nuclear technology that he was starkly negligent in choosing not to consult revenant ministries while drafting the Bill? Is it for this very reason that doctrine of “absolute liability” for the operator, supplier, builder and owner has been subverted? Business enterprises are “strictly and absolutely liable to compensate all those who are affected by the accident and such liability is not subject to any of the exceptions which operate vis-à-vis the tortuous principle of strict liability,” as per Supreme Court’s order. The liability of the operator should be made “absolute” to ensure that there are no exceptions.
The Bill ignores the fact that Union Carbide Corporation was also in the business of nuclear power and its current owner The Dow Chemicals Company (since February 6, 2001) too offers a range of nuclear grade resins that are designed and manufactured to meet the requirements of the nuclear power industry. As part of its ‘policy perspectives’ for ‘Accelerate Development of Alternatives and Renewable Energy’, Dow calls for “An increased reliance on safe nuclear power and technologies for effectively managing nuclear waste”. Radioactive waste is not a single "thing" that can be isolated and dealt with.
Reddy, Singh and Banerjee should have recommended more openness, increased public access to information so that no agency hides problems to be solved by the future generations. Current draft of the Bill is leaving the nuclear waste problems for future generations.
This is illustrated by what Alka Sirohi, Secretary, Department of Food & Public Distribution informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee , while explaining the functioning of her Ministry, she emphasized the ill-effects of nuclear radiation on food items and its subsequent repercussions on human health and safeguards to be taken to prevent nuclear contamination of food during radiological accidents. She further mentioned although radiological damage to food items may fall within the generic definition of the property as mentioned in Clause 2f (ii) of the Bill, it would be better if the said Clause could provide a separate definition food grains along with of storage of foodgrains. Additionally she also mentioned that safety norms, distance, location and operating procedure, which should be defined in the Bill during the construction of the warehouses for foodgrains storage to be followed, near a nuclear facility. She also mentioned about the establishment of laboratories for the standard testing of food articles to ascertain radiation levels. Sirohi merits appreciation for her considered submission before the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The Bill remains silent on the grave issues raised by Prabeer Kumar Basu, Secretary, Agriculture who mentioned before the Committee that the disaster management structure in the country is oriented in such a manner that emergencies arising out of floods, earthquakes and droughts could be managed in an efficient manner. However, on the other hand, unfortunately the disaster management structure in the country, as per his opinion, is not well tailored in meeting radiological fall out and more unfortunate to mention that even educated section of the people is not well aware about the implications of a serious nuclear disaster. He therefore, felt that more public awareness needs to be built in respect of nuclear disaster and its hair-raising impact on biological population. He further pointed out that as a consequence of a nuclear disaster of the Chernobyl type, it is quite possible that agricultural crops around 30 to 100 kms. from the site of the incident could be wiped out total. This may affect seriously the biodiversity of the crops in the radiation area and the farmer may loose their traditional variety of crops. In this connection he mentioned that the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources and Gene Bank in the country who are keeping a sample of each variety of crops can preserve these varieties which could be planted for further production if a variety of crops is entirely lost due to radiological emergency. He however, mentioned that there should be suitable rules, regulations and guidelines and compensation model for agricultural damage that could be inserted at an appropriate place in the legislation which may work after a radiological eventuality takes place.
Further revealing the criminal negligence of the drafters of the Bill, Prabhat C Chatirvedi, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment while referring to Clause 5 (1)(i) which provides for non-liability of operator for any nuclear damage arising out of a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character pointed out that grave natural disaster should not include earthquakes or floods. He advised the Committee that if nuclear plant is placed in a seismic zone, it should be properly designed to withstand earthquake of severe character. The word natural disaster is too general. He further mentioned that concept of absolute liability of the operator in case of a nuclear damage whether it is on worker or someone else should be invoked in the Bill. The Secretary, while referring to Clause 39 (1) of the Bill, drew the attention of the Committee that no specific monetary quantum has been mentioned in regard to the fine to be imposed under the chapter on offenses and penalties. He therefore, suggested that specific quantum of fine in monetary terms should be defined in the Bill. Chaturvedi merits plaudits for his considered submission before the committee.
In compliance of the suggestion of Chairperson, Parliamentary Standing Committee Science & Technology, Environment & Forests during my testimony on 3rd August, 2010 and pursuant to my written submission dated 7th July, 2010, Toxicswatch Alliance (TWA) had specifically drawn the attention of the Parliamentary Standing Committee with regard to the narrow definition of the word “installation” and conflict of interest ridden existence of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). In a letter to the Parliamentary Standing Committee dated August 12, 2010, TWA has highlighted the backdrop of the deliberations on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill. Meera Shankar, Indian Ambassador to the US, and William Burns , the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States signed the Agreement on Arrangements and Procedures for Reprocessing on July 30, 2010 in pursuance to Article 6(iii) of the Agreement for Cooperation concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between India and the US. TWA has questioned the merit of centralised power stations like nuclear given 35-40 percent transmission and distribution loss from power grids.
R.Gopalan, Secretary, Financial Services submitted before the Parliamentary Committee that “any increase in premium of insurance will lead to increase in the cost of production of electricity for nuclear power. It is argued that higher the liability limit higher will be the insurance premium and subsequently higher will be the cost of electricity production.” Unmindful of such concerns its business as usual for the US nuclear companies and FICCI. A press release from the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC noted, "The historic bilateral cooperation agreement for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the 123 Agreement that we signed two years back provided for reprocessing of US obligated nuclear material in an Indian national facility under IAEA safeguards."
It observes, "The government of India has already designated two sites for nuclear power plants to be established in cooperation with the US and the companies of the two countries are now engaged in discussions" as a follow up of the last month's Strategic Dialogue and the meeting of the CEO's Forum prior to the visit of President Barack Obama to India in November 2010.
Reddy, Dr Singh and Banerjee have failed to discourage nuclear power companies to locate "sinks" like deep waters of ocean, sea, rivers, air and landfills etc in which it could dump, flush, or vent radioactive waste products. They have skirted the issue of India’s radioactive waste management and it should desist from NIMBY-ism. NIMBY stands for "Not In My Back Yard". The US state of Nevada is fighting a classic NIMBY battle against the Yucca Mountain facility. In India too communities should be empowered and not harassed for asserting their right to safe environment and the rights of future generations. It was once argued that reprocessing spent nuclear fuel was another important waste management strategy although the act of reprocessing still generated volatile waste products which exacerbated the waste management problem even as it reduced the overall volume of radioactive waste material but it only made radioactive waste problem a long-term disposal option. Notably, US itself has stopped reprocessing nuclear fuel during the late 1970s by order of President Jimmy Carter.
Reddy, Singh and Banerjee do not realize that the difficulties with radioactive waste cannot be dealt with by imposing a legislative fix on a problem that has not been clearly defined or fully understood. Such legislative fixes are hardly a solution as became evident from US Nuclear Waste Repository Act of 1982 and a 1987 Congressional amendment to the Act which mandated consideration of only one location, Nevada's Yucca Mountain as a permanent repository leading to major litigation as well as significant opposition from people in the US state of Nevada. Nuclear power cannot and should not expand in India as is the case with the US until the problem of where to dispose of radioactive waste is solved.
P Umashankar, Secretary, Ministry of Power apprised the Committee about the Clause 3 of the Bill, wherein the notification regarding the occurrence of a nuclear incident is to be issued within 15 days by the AERB. According to him, “the nuclear power station incharge/ director will immediately declare nuclear emergency, and forthwith the disaster management plan will start, without waiting for the publication of the notification and the 15 days time-period also needs to be reduced. “ This is quite sensible but it appears that Department of Atomic Energy did not consult even the Power Ministry.
Testimony after testimony before the Committee had asked for deletion of the word terrorism from the Bill but the same is not reflected in the Committee’ s report despite the fact that Pradeep Kumar, the Defence Secretary, who also appeared before the Committee categorically stated, “under different layers of protection, nuclear assets including nuclear installations are being protected through Defence. However he admitted that absolute and fool proof protection cannot be guaranteed for any nuclear or other assets in the country during peace or war.” Exceptions for acts of terrorism can easily be used by the supplier and the operator to wash their hands off any nuclear disaster.
In view of the above observations, there is a very urgent need for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (sans conflict of interest) to probe and examine the current liability regime in general and nuclear liability regime in particular in the developed countries besides a High Powered Trans-disciplinary Independent Experts Committee to study the status of adverse enviro-occupational hazards world over. Human cost of industrial disasters have created a compelling logic to do away with the idea of limited liability to companies, the proposed Companies Bill should make a beginning in order to make these legal-artificial persons accountable to our legislature.
Shame! India sold its dead cheap
Around 22,000 dead. More than 1,20,000 injured. Rs 1 lakh for each
body. Rs 25,000 for every poisoned lung and damaged heart and blinded
eyes. 26 years of long wait. And just 2 years in jail for the men who
committed the worst crime against the people of this country. And this
mockery of justice after such a long wait. Twenty six years after 40
tonnes of lethal gas seeped into the lungs of Bhopal, families of some
17,000 men, women and children are still waiting for the so-called
compensation. Thousands more are still waiting to be accepted as
victims. People of Bhopal are still drinking toxic water poisoned by
Union Carbide in December 1984. And the main culprit is living life
kingsize in a mansion in New York.
No country sells its people so cheap.
No country sells its poor so cheap.
No country sells its dead so cheap.
Today – on the day of Bhopal disaster judgment -- if there is a failed
state in the world, it’s India. It’s not Iraq. It’s not Somalia. It’s
not Sudan. It’s India.
India – its government, judiciary and corporates – accepted the
ridiculous amount of $450 million dollars for the people killed and
maimed by methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide factory in
the heart of Bhopal three decades ago. In all these years, the poor
victims have done everything they could to get justice and
compensation. They have cried and died on streets, sat hungry and
faced police lathis on roads and filed court cases in the hope that
one day they will get justice.
Today, they were denied justice. Today, they were told that they
should be happy with the peanuts thrown at them by Union Carbide.
Today, India proved once again that it doesn’t care for its poor.
Today, it was proved all over again that those who do politics in the
name of poor in this country, always rule for the rich.
What justification does CBI have for not being able to produce Warren
Anderson in court. The chairman of UC at the time of the gas attack
(it was not an accident, the gas leak was caused because of cost-
cutting steps taken by him) on the people of Bhopal, Anderson was
arrested and later released on bail. He ran off to US in 1986 and we
have not been able to find him or ask the US to extradite Anderson to
India. Why? The government says it doesn’t know where Anderson is.
What a lie. What a shame.
Last year, on a balmy July day, a bunch of victims danced on the
streets after hearing news that the Chief Judicial Magistrate of
Bhopal had ordered the CBI to arrest Anderson and produce him before
the court without delay. The court also asked the CBI to explain what
steps it had taken since 2002 to enforce the warrant and extradition
of Anderson, who was declared an absconder in 1992. Though the CBI and
US government failed to track Anderson, supporters of Bhopal victims
traced him to the elite New York neighbourhood of the Hamptons. In
2003, Greenpeace activists paid Anderson a visit at his home and
handed him an arrest warrant.
Today’s ridiculous judgment in Bhopal didn’t say anything on Anderson
as he is a “proclaimed offender”. This status suits him fine because
he doesn’t have to bother about coming to India and answer some very
*Why did Union Carbide not apply the same safety standards at its
plant in India as it operated at a sister plant in West Virginia, US?
*On the night of the disaster, why did the six safety measures
designed to prevent a gas leak fail to function?
*Why was the safety siren, intended to alert the people living close
to the factory, turned off?
The victims have always alleged that Bhopal happened because of
negligence by the Union Carbide and that was caused by cost-cutting
measures taken by Anderson. Is it because of this reason that Anderson
has been 'hiding' in the US?
A criminal has a reason to hide, but what reason does our government
have to let a mass murderer like Anderson go scot-free. Is it because
he is an American? Can an American come to India kill people in this
country and run away with no consequences? That seems to be the case.
We are still struggling to get a chance to question David Headley
Coleman, an American citizen responsible for the worst terror attack
on an Indian city in 2008. Will we succeed in getting Headley
extradited to India? No way. Never.
Today, India proved that it doesn’t really care for its people,
particularly if they have been slaughtered by powerful people from the
most powerful nation in the world. Instead of taking on America and
fighting for justice for its poor, India is more than happy to sell
its dead cheap.
Rs 1 lakh for every body. Rs 25,000 for every blinded eye. This is the
cost of poor life in a failed state.
Severe accident risk at India’s fast breeder nuclear reactor
The safety inadequacies of India’s fast breeder reactor
India’s Department of Atomic Energy plans to build a large fleet of fast breeder nuclear reactors in the coming years.
However, many other countries that have experimented with fast reactors have shut down their programs due to technical and safety difficulties.
The Indian prototype is similarly flawed, inadequately protected against the possibility of a severe accident.
India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is planning a large expansion of nuclear power, in which fast breeder reactors play an important role. Fast breeder reactors are attractive to the DAE because they produce (or "breed") more fissile material than they use. The breeder reactor is especially attractive in India, which hopes to develop a large domestic nuclear energy program even though it has primarily poor quality uranium ore that is expensive to mine.
Currently, only one fast reactor operates in the country—a small test reactor in Kalpakkam, a small township about 80 kilometers (almost 50 miles) south of Chennai. The construction of a larger prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) is underway at the same location. This reactor is expected to be completed in 2010 and will use mixed plutonium-uranium oxide as fuel in its core, with a blanket of depleted uranium oxide that will absorb neutrons and transmute into plutonium 239. Liquid sodium will be used to cool the core, which will produce 1,200 megawatts of thermal power and 500 megawatts of electricity. The reactor is to be the first of hundreds that the DAE envisions constructing throughout India by mid-century.
However, such an expansion of fast reactors, even if more modest than DAE projections, could adversely affect public health and safety. While all nuclear reactors are susceptible to catastrophic accidents, fast reactors pose a unique risk. In fast reactors, the core isn’t in its most reactive—or energy producing— configuration when operating normally. Therefore, an accident that rearranges the fuel in the core could lead to an increase in reaction rate and an increase in energy production. If this were to occur quickly, it could lead to a large, explosive energy release that might rupture the reactor vessel and disperse radioactive material into the environment.
Many of these reactors also have what is called a "positive coolant void coefficient," which means that if the coolant in the central part of the core were to heat up and form bubbles of sodium vapor, the reactivity—a measure of the neutron balance within the core, which determines the reactor’s tendency to change its power level (if it is positive, the power level rises)—would increase; therefore core melting could accelerate during an accident. (A positive coolant void coefficient, though not involving sodium, contributed to the runaway reaction increase during the April 1986 Chernobyl reactor accident.) In contrast, conventional light water reactors typically have a "negative coolant void coefficient" so that a loss of coolant reduces the core’s reactivity. The existing Indian fast breeder test reactor, with its much smaller core, doesn’t have a positive coolant void coefficient. Thus, the DAE doesn’t have real-world experience in handling the safety challenges that a large prototype reactor will pose.
More largely, international experience shows that fast breeder reactors aren’t ready for commercial use. Superphénix, the flagship of the French breeder program, remained inoperative for the majority of its 11-year lifetime until it was finally shuttered in 1996. Concerns about the adequacy of the design of the German fast breeder reactor led to it being contested by environmental groups and the local state government in the 1980s and ultimately to its cancellation in 1991. And the Japanese fast reactor Monju shut down in 1995 after a sodium coolant leak caused a fire and has yet to restart. Only China and Russia are still developing fast breeders. China, however, has yet to operate one, and the Russian BN-600 fast reactor has suffered repeated sodium leaks and fires.
When it comes to India’s prototype fast breeder reactor, two distinct questions must be asked: (1) Is there confidence about how an accident would propagate inside the core and how much energy it might release?; and (2) have PFBR design efforts been as strict as necessary, given the possibility that an accident would be difficult to contain and potentially harmful to the surrounding population?
The simple answer to both is no.
The DAE, like other fast-reactor developers, has tried to study how severe a core-disruptive accident would be and how much energy it would release. In the case of the PFBR, the DAE has argued that the worst-case core disruptive accident would release an explosive energy of 100 megajoules. This is questionable.
The DAE’s estimate is much smaller when compared with other fast reactors, especially when the much larger power capacity of the PFBR—and thus, the larger amount of fissile material used in the reactor—is taken into account. For example, it was estimated that the smaller German reactor (designed to produce 760 megawatts of thermal energy) would produce 370 megajoules in the event of a core-disruptive accident—much higher than the PFBR estimate. Other fast reactors around the world have similarly higher estimates for how much energy would be produced in such accidents.
The DAE’s estimate is based on two main assumptions: (1) that only part of the core will melt down and contribute to the accident; and (2) that only about 1 percent of the thermal energy released during the accident would be converted into mechanical energy that can damage the containment building and cause ejection of radioactive materials into the atmosphere.
Neither of these assumptions is justifiable. Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority has done experiments that suggest up to 4 percent of the thermal energy could be converted into mechanical energy. And the phenomena that might occur inside the reactor core during a severe accident are very complex, so there’s no way to stage a full-scale experiment to compare with the theoretical accident models that the reactor’s designers used in their estimates. In addition, important omissions in the DAE’s own safety studies make their analysis inadequately conservative. (Our independent estimates of the energy produced in a hypothetical PFBR core disruptive accident are presented in the Science and Global Security article, "Compromising Safety: Design Choices and Severe Accident Possibilities in India’s Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor" and these are much higher than the DAE’s estimates.)
Turning to the second question: In terms of the stringency of the DAE’s design effort, the record reveals inadequate safety precautions. One goal of any "defense-in-depth" design is to engineer barriers to withstand the most severe accident that’s considered plausible. Important among these barriers is the reactor’s containment building, the most visible structure from the outside of any nuclear plant. Compared to most other breeder reactors, and light water reactors for that matter, the design of the PFBR’s containment is relatively weak and won’t be able to contain an accident that releases a large amount of energy. The DAE knows how to build stronger containments—its newest heavy water reactor design has a containment building that is meant to withstand six times more pressure than the PFBR’s containment—but has chosen not to do so for the PFBR.
The other unsafe design choice is that of the reactor core. As mentioned earlier, the destabilizing positive coolant void coefficient in fast reactors is a problem because it increases the possibility that reactivity will escalate inside the core during an accident. It’s possible to decrease this effect by designing the reactor core so that fuel subassemblies are interspersed within the depleted uranium blanket, in what is termed a heterogeneous core. The U.S. Clinch River Breeder Reactor, which was eventually cancelled, was designed with a heterogeneous core, and Russia has considered a heterogeneous core for its planned BN-1600 reactor. The DAE hasn’t made such an effort, and the person who directed India’s fast breeder program during part of the design phase once argued that the emphasis on the coolant void coefficient was mistaken because a negative void coefficient could lead to dangerous situations in an accident as well. That might be true, but it misses the obvious point that the same potentially dangerous situations would be even more dangerous if the void coefficient within the core is positive.
Both of these design choices—a weak containment building and a reactor core with a large and positive void coefficient—are readily explainable: They lowered costs. Reducing the sodium coolant void coefficient would have increased the fissile material requirement of the reactor by 30-50 percent—an expensive component of the initial costs. Likewise, a stronger containment building would have cost more. All of this is motivated by the DAE’s assessment that "the capital cost of [fast breeder reactors] will remain the most important hurdle" to their rapid deployment.
Lowered electricity costs would normally be most welcome, but not with the increased risk of catastrophic accidents caused by poorly designed fast breeder reactors.
Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Sobering Reflections
The Guardian - Asia Pacific - 23Aug
Hundreds of children in the Punjab have been contaminated with uranium in a pollution scandal with implications that could extend far beyond the borders of India.
Scientists and health workers have sounded the alarm after being confronted with a dramatic rise in birth defects, physical and mental abnormalities, and cancers in the Indian state. A subsequent Observer investigation has uncovered evidence linking the contamination to ash from the region's coal-fired power stations. Tests on children born in areas around the power stations have revealed that many have high levels of uranium in their bodies.
The metal is concentrated in the fly ash produced when coal is burned. Tests on ground water around the plants show levels of uranium up to 15 times the World Health Organisation's maximum safe limits.
The revelations coincide with the publication of a report by the Russian Academy of Sciences' Thermal Engineering journal that warns of an increased radiation hazard to people living near coal-fired thermal power stations.
Staff at two clinics around the Punjabi city of Bathinda â€" where there are two coal-fired thermal plants â€" have reported alarming numbers of admissions of severely handicapped children. Children were born with enlarged or small heads, short arms and legs, cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome and other complications. A German laboratory that tested samples taken from the children found massive levels of uranium in their bodies â€" in one case more than 60 times the maximum safe limit.
Studies of ground water suggest that while the uranium contamination is heaviest around the power plants, it extends across large parts of the state, which is home to 24 million people. The Indian government is committed to an expansion of thermal plants in Punjab and other states. Around the world, many other countries are planning to build new coal-fired power plants, including China, Russia, India, Germany and the United States. In the UK, there are plans for a coal-fired station at the Kingsnorth facility in Kent.
The children are being treated at the Baba Farid centres for special children in Bathinda and nearby Faridkot. Dr Pritpal Singh, who is in charge of the Faridkot clinic, said the number of children affected had risen dramatically in the past six or seven years and claimed the authorities were determined to bury the scandal. "They can't just detoxify these kids, they have to detoxify the whole Punjab. That is the reason for their reluctance," he said.
"They threatened us and said if we didn't stop commenting on what's happening they would close our clinic. But I decided that if I kept silent it would go on for years and no one would do anything about it. If I keep silent then the next day it will be my child. The children are dying in front of me."
Dr Carin Smit, a South African clinical metal toxicologist who arranged for the tests to be carried out, said the situation could not be ignored. "There is evidence of harm for these children in my care and â€¦ it is an imperative that their bodies be cleaned up and their metabolism be supported to deal with such a devastating presence of radioactive material," she said.
"If the contamination is as widespread as it would appear to be â€" as far west as Muktsar on Pakistan's border, and as far east as spreading into the foothills of Himachal Pradesh â€" then millions are at high risk and every new baby born to a contaminated mother is at risk."
A team of scientists from India's Department of Atomic Energy visited the area and reported that while the concentration of uranium in drinking water was "slightly high", there was "nothing to worry about", although some of their tests recorded levels of uranium as high as 224micrograms per litre (mcg/l) â€" 15 times higher than the safe level of 15mcg/l recommended by the World Health Organisation. The US Environmental Protection Agency sets a maximum safe level of 20mcg/l. Scientists in Punjab who have studied the presence of uranium in the state have dismissed the government's denials as a whitewash.
Dr Chander Parkash and Dr Surinder Singh, both from Amritsar's Guru Nanak Dev University, said it was clear that uranium was present in large quantities in the ground water and should be investigated further.
In the Faridkot centre last week, 15-year-old Harmanbir Kaur's test results came back and showed she had 10 times the safe limit in her body. Her brother, Naunihal Singh, six, had double the safe levels.
Harmanbir was born in Muktsar, 40km from Faridkot. Her mother, Kulbir Kaur, 37, has watched her child slowly degenerate from a healthy baby into the very ill girl she is today â€" dribbling constantly, unable to feed herself and lost in a world of her own.
"God knows what sin I have committed. When we go to our village people say there is a curse of God on you, but I don't believe so," she said. "Every part of this area is affected. We never imagined that there would be uranium in our kids."
A few miles down the road in Bathinda, Sukhminder Singh, a 48-year-old farmer, watched his son Kulwinder, 13, staring into space while curling his hands under his chin. The tests showed that Kulwinder had 19 times the maximum safe level of uranium in his body. He has cerebral palsy and has already had seven operations to unbend his arms and legs. He is furious that the government has ignored the evidence of a serious health risk to children in the Punjab.
"The government should investigate it because if our child is affected it will also affect future generations," he said. "What are they waiting for? How many children do they want to be affected? Another generation?"
Doni Choudhary, aged 15 months, is waiting to be tested, although staff say he shows similar symptoms to children whose results have revealed dangerous levels of uranium, and he is already being treated for suspected uranium poisoning. His mother, Neelum, 22, from the state capital, Chandigarh, says he was born with hydrocephaly â€" water on the brain. His legs are useless.
"He is dependent on others. After me, who can care for him?" Neelum says. "He tries to speak but he can't express himself and my heart cries. When will he understand that his legs don't work? What will he feel?"
Some scientists have also proposed that ground water may have been contaminated by contact with granite lying deep below the thick alluvial deposits that form the Punjab plains, although the parents of most of the children affected say they take their water from the mains supply, which comes from other sources.
Meanwhile, smoke continues to pour from Faridkot's power station chimneys and lorries shuttle backwards and forwards, taking away the fly ash to be mixed into cement at the Ambuja factory next to the Bathinda power plant.
Inside the plant last week, there was ash everywhere, forming drifts, clinging to the skin, getting into the throat. In the main hall, the LED display showed the four generators are churning out 107 megawatts of electricity.
Ravindra Singh, the plant's security officer, said that most of the ash went to the cement works, while the rest was dumped in ash ponds. The first coal-fired power station in Punjab was commissioned in Bathinda in 1974. It was followed by another in nearby Lehra Mohabbat in 1998. There is a third to the east, at Ropar.
Tests on ground water in villages in Bathinda district found the highest average concentration of uranium â€" 57mcg/l, three times the EPA's safe limit â€" in the town of Bhucho Mandi, a short distance from the Lehra Mohabbat ash pond. This level of uranium means the lifetime cancer risk in the village is more than 150 times that of the normal population
The report has indicated that the project - which requires about 968 hectares of land panning five villages - will have a huge negative impact on the social as well as environmental development of not just these villages and the surrounding areas, but also on the Konkan region in general.
The findings suggest that the government subverted facts and called fertile agricultural land barren. It also says that the Jaitapur project is sitting on a high to moderate severity earthquake zone.
The Jaitapur nuclear power complex is located in the ecologically sensitive coastal Maharashtra region which includes Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts. Nuclear Power Corporation of India is building the 9900 megawatt power plant - said to be the world's largest - in collaboration with French nuclear designing firm Areva. Last month, the Union Environment Ministry gave a conditional go-ahead to the plant. However, it is facing staunch opposition from the locals who fear environmental degradation in the fragile Konkan area.
Maharashtra Congress team heads to Jaitapur
As farmers' protests boil over in Ratnagiri threatening to delay the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, a concerned Maharashtra government dispatched a Congress team to review the situation.
"A Congress committee is going to Jaitapur. The committee will talk to locals and fishermen there. We will listen to their views and problems," Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said.
Despite the Environment Ministry's conditional go-ahead to the plant, protests refuse to die down.
"People who have faced the effects of a nuclear power project in their vicinity told us that this is a devastating project. They said that our next generation will have nothing to live and survive on. We will lose our paddy fields, our plantations and orchards and we will die of hunger," said Umakant Kambli, a resident of Madban village, Ratnagiri.
"We will die but won't let this project come up," said Manda Laxman Wadekar, former Sarpanch.
There is a sense of mistrust against the government. People here say they were not taken into confidence regarding the project, their lands were forcefully taken away, and their democratic protests were illegally thwarted.
Experts have already said that building, safeguarding and providing imported fuel to the reactor will be so costly that power from Jaitapur will be unaffordable.
Now villagers allege the project has neither planned storage and disposal of its nuclear waste, nor drafted any plan to ecologically protect Ratnagiri - a region of rich agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and biodiversity.
Without these plans in place, they say, letting the project come up will be suicidal.
UCIL’s underground mines in Jadugoda, Bhatin, Turamdhih, Narwapahar, and its open cast mine at Banduhurang extract 1,000 tons per day (TPD) of uranium ore. Two underground mines in the pipeline at Baghjata and Mahuldih will boost that amount. The ore is processed at the Jadugoda and Turamdih mills with a combined capacity of 5,000 TDP. The company earned $64 million in 2007-08, and made a $3 million profit.
The 20-year lease for UCIL's mines was up in 2007, and a new application is being processed. Under it, the company wants to add 6.37 hectares to tailing dam capacity and expand production, according to UCIL Chairman and Managing Director Ramendra Gupta. This move requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) drawn up by the Central Institute of Mining & Fuel Research (CIMFR), along with a public hearing.
Addressing the affected community at the May public hearing in Jadugoda, the company represented the local plans as “a marginal expansion.” But the UCIL website promises “a quantum leap in UCIL’s activities” that includes plans to "deepen the existing mines, expand its processing facilities,” and “not only opening new mines, but also the development of the community around its operations.”
While the company has created local schools and provides jobs and social services, villagers who attended the hearing argued that these provisions do not compensate for the health effects and destruction of their way of life.
“Why are we being made to pay such a heavy price, for so many decades”? Asks Hira Hansda, speaking of her three miscarriages and birth to five infants that quickly died. Her husband Sonaram worked at the tailing dam as a casual employee between 1984-87, and like many villagers, he links the deterioration in local health conditions to the arrival of the uranium mines. The last three surveys conducted in the area found increased radiation levels.
Heavy Security at UCIL’s Public Hearing Keeps Villagers Out
The public hearing on UCIL's new application took place at the heavily fortified camp of the Central India Security Force (CISF) within the UCIL colony at Jadugoda. Conducted by the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board, the proceedings were marked by restrictions on personal liberties under sections of a law applying to situations with the potential to cause civil unrest.
Leaving little room for the public or protesters, the hall was packed with hundreds of UCIL workers and other company beneficiaries who held placards reading: “When compared to hunger, pollution is a small issue," and "Save UCIL.”
Those who had lost their lands and health to the mines were physically barred from the tent. Outside the proceedings, protesters shouted: “Do not destroy our land," “No uranium, no uranium waste, no weapons, care for the future." Many indigenous villagers waved the banner of the Jharkhandi Organization Against Radiation (JOAR), winner of the Germany-based Nuclear Free Future Award for its long crusade against the hazards of uranium mining in Jadugoda. The protesters denounced the hearing as "a farce" and demanded that it be immediately stopped.
Villager and JOAR president, Ghanashyam Biruli, issued the demands: no new uranium mines, bring the existing mine under international safety guidelines, return unused tribal land, provide livelihood and rehabilitation to displaced people, clean up the contamination, commission an independent study of environmental contamination and health effects, and monitor water bodies to ensure that the radionuclides do not seep into the aquifer that is the lifeline of more than 100,000 people. The activists also argued that since the country can buy uranium on the international market, there is no compelling need to expand UCIL's capacity.
The real compelling need, they asserted, was protecting health and the environment. The 2008 health survey by the Indian chapter of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) provided clear evidence, finding that:
* Couples living near the mines were "1.58 times more vulnerable to primary sterility" with 9.6 percent of couples in study villages unable to conceive after three years of marriage, compared with 6.27 percent in a reference (control) group.
* Birth defects followed a similar pattern with 1.84 times higher incidence: “[B]abies from mothers, who lived near uranium mining operation area, suffered a significant increase in congenital deformities,” according to the report. While 4.49 percent of mothers living in the study villages reported bearing children with congenital deformities, only 2.49 percent of mothers in reference villages fell under this category." The national rate for people with disabilities (including congenital deformities) is 3 percent, according to official government statistics.
* Deformed babies near the mining operations are almost 6 times more likely to die, with 9.25 percent mothers in the study villages reporting congenital deformities as the cause of death of their children. In the reference village, mothers reported 1.70 percent of babies died of deformities.
* Cancer deaths were also higher: 2.87 percent of households in study villages attributed the cause of death to be cancer, compared to 1.89 percent in the reference village.
These factors contributed to a lowered life expectancy. In the study villages 68.33 percent of the population died before reaching the state's average life expectancy: 62 years old.
UCIL Denies Contamination
Despite such alarming reports, radiation data are not made public because they fall under the purview of the Atomic Energy Act of 1962. UCIL / DAE (Department of Atomic Energy) also cites security concerns for refusing to release data on health of the workers. But Buddha Weeps in Jadugoda, a 1999 award-winning film by Shri Prakash documented that, despite a law mandating regular monitoring, in the last five- to ten-year period few workers underwent blood and urine tests to assess the impact of radiation.
Independent scientists have confirmed the danger. Professor Hiroaki Koide, from the Research Reactor Institute, Kyoto University, Japan, sampled soil and air in the surrounding villages and documented that “The circumference of tailing ponds is impacted with uranium radiation. The strength of the radiation is of 10 to 100 times high in comparison to places without contamination. ...There are places where uranium concentration is high in the road or the riverside, and it is thought that tailings are used for construction material,” including on villagers' houses." Tailings are production waste material that, according to critics are unsafely stored, dumped, and used for landfills, roads and construction.
UCIL Technical Director D Acharya denied that the company was responsible for radiological contamination. “UCIL’s safety and pollution control measures are at par with the international standards, comparable at any point of time,” he said. The company is dealing with naturally occurring materials, he noted, the very low grade ore extracted is a minimal environmental hazard, and the company is not enriching the ore in Jadugoda.
But tacitly acknowledging the risks, UCIL head, Gupta, noted in the 2008 Annual Report that "External gamma radiation, Radon concentration, suspended particulate matters, airborne long lived Alpha activity and concentration of radio nuclides- uranium and Radium in surface and ground water, in soil and food items etc are monitored regularly."
Although he presented no evidence, UCIL Technical Director Acharya said that allegations of health problems are canards spread by anti-uranium lobbies, and that the physical fitness of the employees can be gauged the UCIL football team's success in winning the DAE tournaments for the past five years.
“From time to time we have also conducted structured health surveys and examinations, by independent sources," said Acharya. "One was done by the erstwhile Bihar Assembly, about ten years ago, but the findings are absolutely normal.” (The area was part of Bihar at the time.) "The effects of radiation are being constantly monitored by independent watchdogs, and there are health physics experts who are always with us, for round-the clock-vigil of the situation. Hence, there is really no cause of concern,” he added.
That is not the experience of many villagers, who link serious health problems to the mines. Like many of the women in the surrounding areas, Hansda's pregnancies were a time of terror. “It fills within us fear and apprehensions of the possible ordeal that may be in store. Who knows what would be the fate of the baby,” she said.
Before enacting the law on “Nuclear Accident Liability Bill” , Government of India should consider the following issues
Neither our MPs , Cabinet ministers nor IAS babus have the right to decide the fate of common people & fix a rate for lives of Indians. They are not experts in this field , they should not conclude any deals , decisions in a hush hush manner . Many scams have come out of hush hush deals . Nobody , no MP , no minister , no IAS officer has paid from his personal pocket to the victims of industrial disasters , etc. After all MPs , Ministers , IAS babus are public servants , they must just represent the voices of people , we people don’t want their personal expertise & opinions. Our Policy makers must heed to the public advice of senior scientists , experts in the field of nuclear power generation .
Ofcourse , as a result unit price of electricity will get front loaded , we may not get cheap electricity . but the lives of Indians are much valuable than Electricty. The person who benefits from cheap electricity – Industrialists does not pay from his pocket to the victims of disasters . Development not at the cost of safety & lives of common people. This must dawn on our ill informed policy makers at the earliest .
materials takes place now & then, which in itself constitute nuclear
on small scale. Refer the Deccan Herald ( 12/10/03 to 18/10/03) for
years back, there were media reports about certain containers with
materials dumped in the open in Mysore city Railway Station. In Kaiga
power project a doom collapsed. In India how many cases of
mal-handling of radio
active materials have taken place ? No public knowledge . In the back
corrupt ,negligent hush-hush, buck passing work culture in most of the
government service, I do want to know from the union Health Minister &
Karnataka State Health Minister, how safe are we from the processing &
of radio active materials at M/s REMP, Mysore M/s REMP Kerala, & M/s
Jadaguda Jharkhand ? How the spent fuel is disposed off in nuclear
in India ? few months back there were media reports about ill effects
radiation on the employees & peoples of adjacent villages near the
site of M/s Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. Jadaguda Jharkhand &
Operations site of M/s REMP in Kerala.
In tsunami waves onslaught of december 2004 , the vital facilities of
nuclear reserch station in tamilnadu were damaged . just last week
earth quake were felt in kaiga nuclear power plant in kaiga ,
karnataka . if
anything untoward happens as a result of natural calamities or human
etc , what sort of contigency plans the government has got ready for
of public ?
Even some of the insurance companies like M/s Met Life India Insurance
cover the risk of physical / mental disabilities or death caused due
hazards . In such an event who will bear the cost of compensation ?
quantum of compensation is calculated ? will you take into
insurance policies brought by individuals ? Give me information about
measures taken by M/s REMP, M/s UCIL & other related agencies at all
operation sites / nuclear sites.
by Moushumi Basu, Special to CorpWatch
October 7th, 2009
their births,” says Hira Hansda, a miner’s wife. “Even after 20 years
of marriage we have no children today.” Now in her late forties, she
sits outside her mud hut in Jadugoda Township, site of one of the
oldest uranium mines in India.
part of a cluster of four underground and one open cast mines and two
processing plants, in East Singbhum district in the Eastern Indian
state of Jharkhand. The deepest plunges almost one kilometer into the
Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1967, UCIL has sole responsibility for mining
and processing all of India's uranium. And since the strength of the
Jadugoda region's uraninite ore is extremely low, it takes many tons
of earth as well as complex metallurgical processes to yield even a
small amount of useable uranium ore—along with tons of radioactive
waste, disposed of in unlined tailing dams.
Fuel Complex in Hyderabad, where it is officially designated for use
in nuclear reactors. But it is an open secret that some of the nuclear
material becomes the key ingredient in India's nuclear arsenal. (India
is one of only three states—along with Israel and Pakistan—that are
not signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
Weapons. North Korea withdrew from the Treaty in 2003.)
materials and radioactivity released by the mining and processing
operations are causing widespread infertility, birth defects and
cancers. A 2008 health survey by the Indian chapter of International
Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), found that “primary
sterility was found to be more common in the people residing near
uranium mining operations area.”
themselves fortunate when their infant was born alive, until, “I found
that my baby son did not have his right ear and instead in its place
was a blob of flesh,” says Tudu, a day worker in his late thirties.
Their son, Shyam Tudu, now eight, has a severe hearing impairment.
villages have become victims of social ostracism," says Parvati
Manjhi, and cannot find spouses. "And a number of our girls have been
abandoned by their husbands, when they failed to give birth,” Now
middle-aged, Parvati and her husband, Dhuwa Manjhi, who used to work
for UCIL, are childless.
area's name, Jharkhand, which in the local tribal language means
“forest endowed with nature’s bounties.” If the lush land was the
indigenous population's boon for centuries, its rich mineral reserves
have become their bane. Six decades of industrialization has depleted
the forest cover, degraded the environment, displaced tribal peoples—
who along with Dalit ("untouchables") form an oppressed underclass—and
devastated a way of life deeply interwoven with nature.
richest mineral reserves, the villages in Jharkhand are now among the
poorest in the country, according to the Center For Science &
Environment’s (New Delhi) 2008 report “Rich Lands Poor People.”
and its open cast mine at Banduhurang extract 1,000 tons per day (TPD)
of uranium ore. Two underground mines in the pipeline at Baghjata and
Mahuldih will boost that amount. The ore is processed at the Jadugoda
and Turamdih mills with a combined capacity of 5,000 TDP. The company
earned $64 million in 2007-08, and made a $3 million profit.
application is being processed. Under it, the company wants to add
6.37 hectares to tailing dam capacity and expand production, according
to UCIL Chairman and Managing Director Ramendra Gupta. This move
requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental
Management Plan (EMP) drawn up by the Central Institute of Mining &
Fuel Research (CIMFR), along with a public hearing.
Jadugoda, the company represented the local plans as “a marginal
expansion.” But the UCIL website promises “a quantum leap in UCIL’s
activities” that includes plans to "deepen the existing mines, expand
its processing facilities,” and “not only opening new mines, but also
the development of the community around its operations.”
social services, villagers who attended the hearing argued that these
provisions do not compensate for the health effects and destruction of
their way of life.
decades”? Asks Hira Hansda, speaking of her three miscarriages and
birth to five infants that quickly died. Her husband Sonaram worked at
the tailing dam as a casual employee between 1984-87, and like many
villagers, he links the deterioration in local health conditions to
the arrival of the uranium mines. The last three surveys conducted in
the area found increased radiation levels.
fortified camp of the Central India Security Force (CISF) within the
UCIL colony at Jadugoda. Conducted by the Jharkhand State Pollution
Control Board, the proceedings were marked by restrictions on personal
liberties under sections of a law applying to situations with the
potential to cause civil unrest.
with hundreds of UCIL workers and other company beneficiaries who held
placards reading: “When compared to hunger, pollution is a small
issue," and "Save UCIL.”
barred from the tent. Outside the proceedings, protesters shouted: “Do
not destroy our land," “No uranium, no uranium waste, no weapons, care
for the future." Many indigenous villagers waved the banner of the
Jharkhandi Organization Against Radiation (JOAR), winner of the
Germany-based Nuclear Free Future Award for its long crusade against
the hazards of uranium mining in Jadugoda. The protesters denounced
the hearing as "a farce" and demanded that it be immediately stopped.
no new uranium mines, bring the existing mine under international
safety guidelines, return unused tribal land, provide livelihood and
rehabilitation to displaced people, clean up the contamination,
commission an independent study of environmental contamination and
health effects, and monitor water bodies to ensure that the
radionuclides do not seep into the aquifer that is the lifeline of
more than 100,000 people. The activists also argued that since the
country can buy uranium on the international market, there is no
compelling need to expand UCIL's capacity.
environment. The 2008 health survey by the Indian chapter of
International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)
provided clear evidence, finding that:
primary sterility" with 9.6 percent of couples in study villages
unable to conceive after three years of marriage, compared with 6.27
percent in a reference (control) group.
incidence: “[B]abies from mothers, who lived near uranium mining
operation area, suffered a significant increase in congenital
deformities,” according to the report. While 4.49 percent of mothers
living in the study villages reported bearing children with congenital
deformities, only 2.49 percent of mothers in reference villages fell
under this category." The national rate for people with disabilities
(including congenital deformities) is 3 percent, according to official
likely to die, with 9.25 percent mothers in the study villages
reporting congenital deformities as the cause of death of their
children. In the reference village, mothers reported 1.70 percent of
babies died of deformities.
villages attributed the cause of death to be cancer, compared to 1.89
percent in the reference village.
villages 68.33 percent of the population died before reaching the
state's average life expectancy: 62 years old.
because they fall under the purview of the Atomic Energy Act of 1962.
UCIL / DAE (Department of Atomic Energy) also cites security concerns
for refusing to release data on health of the workers. But Buddha
Weeps in Jadugoda, a 1999 award-winning film by Shri Prakash
documented that, despite a law mandating regular monitoring, in the
last five- to ten-year period few workers underwent blood and urine
tests to assess the impact of radiation.
Koide, from the Research Reactor Institute, Kyoto University, Japan,
sampled soil and air in the surrounding villages and documented that
“The circumference of tailing ponds is impacted with uranium
radiation. The strength of the radiation is of 10 to 100 times high in
comparison to places without contamination. ...There are places where
uranium concentration is high in the road or the riverside, and it is
thought that tailings are used for construction material,” including
on villagers' houses." Tailings are production waste material that,
according to critics are unsafely stored, dumped, and used for
landfills, roads and construction.
responsible for radiological contamination. “UCIL’s safety and
pollution control measures are at par with the international
standards, comparable at any point of time,” he said. The company is
dealing with naturally occurring materials, he noted, the very low
grade ore extracted is a minimal environmental hazard, and the company
is not enriching the ore in Jadugoda.
2008 Annual Report that "External gamma radiation, Radon
concentration, suspended particulate matters, airborne long lived
Alpha activity and concentration of radio nuclides- uranium and Radium
in surface and ground water, in soil and food items etc are monitored
said that allegations of health problems are canards spread by anti-
uranium lobbies, and that the physical fitness of the employees can be
gauged the UCIL football team's success in winning the DAE tournaments
for the past five years.
and examinations, by independent sources," said Acharya. "One was done
by the erstwhile Bihar Assembly, about ten years ago, but the findings
are absolutely normal.” (The area was part of Bihar at the time.) "The
effects of radiation are being constantly monitored by independent
watchdogs, and there are health physics experts who are always with
us, for round-the clock-vigil of the situation. Hence, there is really
no cause of concern,” he added.
problems to the mines. Like many of the women in the surrounding
areas, Hansda's pregnancies were a time of terror. “It fills within us
fear and apprehensions of the possible ordeal that may be in store.
Who knows what would be the fate of the baby,” she said.