Monday, December 28, 2015

Let us avoid “Nuclear Disaster Made in India” at Kovvada

The dangers of “Untested & Expensive Imported Reactors” pointed out in the Article“The Strange Love for Nuclear Energy” by Prof.M.V. Ramana & Prof.Suvrat Raju, published in The Hindu of 17 th December 2015, are highlighted below:

Dangers of Untested Nuclear Reactors

The“ Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactors” (ESBWR) developed by General Electric (GE) in collaboration with Japan's Hitachi are proposed for Kovvada Nuclear Power Project. (KNPP). The same GE, which built the Fukushima Reactors, was considered a “laggard” in the industry even before its reputation was damaged by Fukushima Disaster in 2011.Since then GE struggled to find buyers for its ESBWR design, which was certified by the U S Nuclear Regulatory Commission only in 2014.

These untested and unproven reactors provide no empirical track record of safe operation, in spite of tall claims by the suppliers based on unreliable theoretical grounds. The industry is itself well aware of possibility of devastating accident, as is clear from its constant efforts to alter India's Nuclear Liability Law.

Lessons from Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of Japan

The Fukushima disaster, which has not been contained even after 4 years, continues to remind many Japanese of the dangers of Nuclear Power. Despite a strong push by the Abe Govt., Nuclear Power finds little support in the country. A poll conducted by a Japanese national news paper in 2014, found that 77% of respondents supported a phase-out of Nuclear Power.
More than 50 years ago, Japan succumbed to pressure from Nuclear Suppliers and initiated a law to indemnify them. Consequently, when the GE Reactors at Fukushima suffered an accident, in part due to design defect that had been pointed out decades earlier, G E was protected from any claims from victims. The cost of the Clean-up, estimated at about $200 billion, has been born almost entirely by Japanese Tax-Payers.

Expensive Nuclear Power

Apart from being hazardous by way of Nuclear Waste generated and likely disasters caused due to design / equipment failures of unproven imported Nuclear Reactors, the Nuclear Power from Imported Reactors is going to be prohibitively expensive source of electrical energy, because of their astronomical capital costs.

A Reactor that costs $11.6 billions in Europe is likely to lead to a first-year tariff of Rs.19 per unit of electricity, against the range of Rs.4.50 to Rs.5.50 per unit of electricity from Coal & Solar Power. If the real and full cost of insurance against accidents of Nuclear Reactors is included in the price, it is going to be prohibitive.

Nuclear Power from the G. E. Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactors (ESBWR) is a Very Expensive, Sophisticated and Dangerous Way to Boil Water. The “Electricity is but the fleeting byproduct and the actual product is forever deadly Radioactive Waste.”

Does Nuclear Power provide Energy Security?

The projection of huge growth of power generating capacity to 800,000 MW by 2031-32 (about 4 times from the present level), to sustain annual growth rate of 8% to 10% .for the next 20 years, seems to be based on the “Supply Syndrome”, rather than the thrust to improve efficiencies in the Power Sector.

The hollowness of the argument that India needs Nuclear Power for ensuring Energy Security, can be seen from the fact that it hardly contributes to around 2.50% of the present installed capacity, in spite of huge investments in mega centralized Nuclear Power Projects during the last 4 decades or so.

Even assuming that the projected installed capacity of 60,000 MW of Nuclear Power will be achieved by 2031-32, (which, going by the past record, is most unlikely), at huge financial costs under the Myth of Nuclear Safety, it hardly contributes to 7.5% of the projected total installed capacity of 800,000 MW by then, which is no where near providing energy security.

The Nation’s Energy Security depends on efficient use of Energy Services that maximize economic competitiveness and minimize resource depletion, environmental degradation / impacts. The Energy Efficiency / Conservation Measures coupled with distributed and decentralized Renewable Sources of Energy can compensate for more than the proposed Nuclear Power capacity by 2032. It is much cheaper and environment friendly option for Energy Security.


Japan is the unique country which experienced Nuclear Bomb and Nuclear Power Reactor Accident. Both are quite delicate and sensitive to the Japanese Psyche, forcing the Government to respect the public sentiments in respect of Nuclear Power Policy and shutting down all of its Nuclear Power Reactors. Germany, a major consumer of nuclear power, permanently closed 8 of its 17 nuclear reactors following Fukushima; other European countries shelved their Nuclear Plans.

It is time for India to review and reconsider the option of going for Mega  Imported expensive & untested Nuclear Reactors and locating them at places like Kovvada reported to be unsafe, ignoring Safety Precautions and the Public Opinion.


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