Kudankulam is an extremely safe plant

Dr. K. Balu, former Director for Nuclear Recycling and Waste Management, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, assures the safety of Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant and highly estimates the quality of the Russian-built reactors.

Following the event on March 11, nuclear scientist Dr. Balu said to journalists that the Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam plant has extremely safe reactors, with extra safety provisions.

"It’s an extremely safe plant, which has been designed and built to the current standards of safety. In fact, it is known as a third generation plus (3G plus) reactor. That means the safety features involved in Kudankulam are as of today, they are the latest ones,” said Balu.

Balu reacted to building of two Russian technology reactors at the Indian nuclear power plant of Kudankulam by saying that the Russian science is of the highest order in the world.

However, the Fukushima incident in Japan resonated in many countries and aroused the fear of nuclear waste among their residents. As a result, in the aftermath of the technological disaster, several nuclear projects across India, such as one in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, had a hard time facing massive protests of the locals and activists believing that such plants could have negative impact on the environment.

But Balu pointed out: “Fukushima is an isolated incident where there was a very unusual combination of natural events, apart from the fact that it was a very old reactor.” He emphasized that after the initial strong reactions subsided, all those countries where anti-nuclear protests raged became sensible and are going back with their nuclear programmes.   

The scientist also noted that there is a lot of misunderstanding as to what constitutes waste from a reactor. He said that even though some material gets contaminated, there are technologies to remove radioactivity both from the liquid and the solid, which have been used in the country for the last 40 years.

“Solid waste can be compacted or incinerated,” explained Dr. Balu. “There are also a number of technologies for decontaminating liquid water such as chemical treatment, iron exchange, evaporation, reverse osmosis.”

Kudankulam is regarded as an essential power project for tackling electricity shortages, which have impeded the economic growth of India. At the moment, there are 20 reactors in operation in six power plants, generating over 4,000 megawatts of electricity, while five other plants are being built.

Set up in the framework of nuclear collaboration between India and Russia, the Kudankulam nuclear power project also was approved by former Indian President and eminent nuclear scientist, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Mr. Abdul Kalam had vouched for the plant’s safety standards after personally visiting the site to check the existing mechanisms.

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