KOLKATA, 21 MARCH: Incidents of nuclear accidents are frequent across the world but the governments suppress the news and fabricate facts when it comes to the extent of causing damage, said the former director of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Dr Manoj Pal, at a press meet organised by Paramanu Bidyut Birodhi Prachaar Andolan Manch at the Press Club today.
The conference was organised to protest against setting up of nuclear power plants in India, halt the country’s programme of nuclear expansion and scrap proposal for setting up nuclear power plants at Jaitapur in Maharashtra’s Konkan region and Haripur in East Midnapore, to stop uranium mining and scrap all international treaties, including the Indo-US deal, pertaining to sale and purchase of materials related to nuclear power production.
Iterating the demands put forth by the Manch, Dr Pal said that the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill should be amended and all caps on liability should be removed. He said that the Three Mile Island accident in USA, Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine and the Fukushima nuclear disaster proves how unsafe nuclear plants are. He said that a book published recently has quoted the figure of victims of Chernobyl as 9,80,000 till 2008 while the government figure was only 5,000. “In Japan, people in the 30 km radius of the Fukushima plant are being evacuated, but the USA has directed its citizens in Japan to move away from as far as 50 km radius around the plant. This shows that the impact which is shown could actually be much graver,” said Dr Pal. He also said that there were reports of spillage in Tarapur Atomic Power Station, Maharashtra twice but to cover up the incident, the radioactive material were cleaned up by ordinary sweepers in the plant.
Dr Meher Engineer, former director of Bose Institute, said that Jaitapur is in high-risk seismic zone and Haripur is located on one of the most cyclone-prone coastlines in the world. He said that the question of earthquakes, tsunamis, storm surges and terrorist strikes become highly relevant in the case of a nuclear power plant precisely because this technology is inherently unsafe and one key example is the problem of nuclear waste for which there is no fool-proof and viable management solution till date.