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INDIA’S SUPREME COURT RULES ON SAFETY OF KUDANKULAM NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

28 Sep 2012

IN NEW DELHI, INDIA’S SUPREME COURT  said that it will not hesitate in stopping the work at Kudankulam NPP, located in Tamil Nadu, if it finds that safety measures at the plant are unsatisfactory. The court made these observations while hearing an appeal against the Madras High Court (their Federal District Court) order that allowed fuel loading at the plant.  Supreme court Justices K.S. Radhakrishanan, and Deepak Misra said the safety of plant and the people living in its vicinity is its prime concernWe will not hesitate to stop the plant if we find that the mandatory safety requirements have not been taken care of at the site,” while posting the case for further hearing on 04 Oct 2012.

THE MADRAS HIGH COURT HAS CONSENTED to commission the Kudankulam NPP, despite huge protests by thousands of villagers and activists, who are not confident that the plant is safe, and are very worried about ecological damage by radioactivity which could affect the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in proximity to the plant for many years. Anti-nuke Activists have cited the Fukushima Dai.No.1 tragedy, as the root-cause of concern about the dangers of NPPs.

PLANT OPERATORS ARE CONFIDENT In an affidavit filed in India’s supreme court on 27 Sep 2012, The NPP operators said: “(Kudankulam NPP) is fully equipped to withstand” Fukushima-type incidents…All safety measures are in place…Even if a Fukushima type of incident were to occur, Kudankulam is fully equipped to withstand any such unlikely event…  All mandatory “clearances and licenses” have been taken for the plant from relevant authorities” ( Yeah-we know!  A LOT OF “RELEVANT AUTHORITIES” WERE PAID – OFF IN THE FORM OF “CLEARANCES  AND LICENCES”). Unsaid was: Now what?

LAWYER PRASHANT BHUSHAN addressed the Supreme Court 27 Sep 2012 in opposition to commissioning of the Kudankulam NPP.  He stated that several changes have been made to the NPP after a clearance wasgranted in 1989, and hence a fresh environment impact assessment must be done.  Mr. Bhushan also alleged that the government’s major concern is that it has already spent a lot of money on the plant (since 1989).  The Supreme Court responded: “It is a serious matter and we are taking it seriously. Everyone is concerned with the safety of the people around the plan”.  It also issued notices to the “Ministry of Environment and Forests” and the ‘Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board” seeking their response on a petition challenging the environmental clearance given to the Kudankulam NPP Operators.  Kudankulam would be the first Indian NPP to be activated since the Fukushima Dai No.1 tragedy last 12 Mar 2011.

Thanks to NDTV (India) 27 Sep 2012
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OUR ANALYSIS AND COMMENTS

LAWYER FOR ANTI-NUKE ACTIVISTS ARGUED:A fresh environment impact assessment must be done.” the Supreme Court agreed, and issued notices to the “Ministry of Environment and Forests” and the ‘Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board” seeking their response on a petition challenging the environmental clearance given to the Kudankulam NPP Operators in 1989. The case for the Nuclear Industry was argued by the NPCIL but…

WHO IN THE WORLD IS THE “NPCIL?”- Enter a new player in India’s Nuclear Industry’s efforts to survive and prosper: It is a Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) – Please bear with me the intricacies of power- politics. Apparently the besieged India’s Nuclear industry thinks that both the AEC, and AERB (supposed “nuclear watchdogs”), are not credible enough, or supported by statute; so, they requested  that they “contract- out” the work to the NPCIL.  In Democracies, sometimes the  government finds it useful to “contract-out” nasty work to Public sector Enterprises, because they “can stand the (political) heat”, and prosper by-it at taxpayer’s expense, while serving as a buffer for their agency recommendations. WE KNOW THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY’S PLAN IS ASKEW, WHEN INDIA’S SUPPORTIVE  GOVERNMENT PREFERS TO CONTRACT-OUT ITS LEGAL DEFENSE.

LAWYERS FOR NPCIL ARGUE THAT KUDANKULAM IS SAFE: It is submitted that even if a Fukushima type of incident were to occur, the KNPP is fully equipped with all safety measures to withstand any such unlikely event,” the NPCIL said in its affidavit., and added: “despite these accidents (three world-class accidents), the safety records of nuclear power plants, in terms of lives lost per unit of electricity delivered, is better than every other major source of power in the world.” The NPCIL also said its assertions would not come in the way of the implementation of the AERB’s recommendations.

THE SUPREME COURT SAID Past Kudankulam governmental expenses were not the issue, as argued by Activist lawyers, the safety of the plant and storage of nuclear waste was of prime concern, as is the protection of people. PROBLEM IS: WHO SAYS THE SUPREME COURT IS QUALIFIED TO RULE ON THE SAFETY OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS OF RUSSIAN 1989 DESIGN, OR ANY NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS?  Off- topic, but it reminds me of when Presidential candidate  G.W. Bush’s appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (He had friends there)that his civil rights were being violated in Florida.  Remember that?  What were the consequences of that U.S. Supreme court decision?  We know, don’t we? – I would rather forget.  Oh! The games politicians play! WHEN ISSUES THAT SHOULD NOT GO TO THE SUPREME COURT DO, USUALLY BAD THINGS HAPPEN.

PROTESTS CONTINUE THROUGHOUT INDIA; Meanwhile the people of Tamil Nadu (KNPP) continue, at times violent confrontations with guards and police, to prevent the loading of nuclear fuel in preparation to Plant activation soon.  Recently, some 1,500 anti-nuke protesters buried themselves waist – deep in the sand surrounding the Plant in a novel form of civil disobedience/protest.  We hope the next elections in India will yield new political figures more responsive to the will of their constituents. –Amen!

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

September 28, 2012 at 11:28 AM Comments (0)

TITULAR HEAD OF INDIA’S ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION SPEAKS AT IAEA MEETING

22 Sep 2012

This article is a sequel to: INDIAS NUCLEAR REGULATORY BOARD (THEIR NRC) NEEDS EMPOWERMENT http://energymaters.com/?p=918

DR. RATAN K. SINHA SPEAKS TO THE “INTL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA)” at its 56th International general conference in Vienna, Austria on 19 Sep 2012.  We say Mr. Sinha is only a “titular head” of the Indian Atomic Energy Agency (AEC-counterpart to the USA-NRC), because the AEC has never gained Indian parliamentary support/approval.  http://energymaters.com/?p=918 Last para.

NPP DEVELOPMENT IS STRONGLY OPPOSED IN INDIA. Faced with violent public rejection/opposition, at the Kudankulam(NPP,  Dr. Ratan Kumar Sinha, titular chairperson of India’s NEC, said work on the first of the two (2) 1,000 MW Light Water Pressurized Boiling Water Reactors(LW- PBWR’s (the most common kind) at Kudankulam is complete. The operation of Unit-1 is expected to commence shortly, while Unit- 2, may be commissioned early next year (2013).  Kudankulam NPP, and other planned “Nuclear -Parks” (as they are euphemistically called), consist of six (6) nukes each.  India is planning to collaborate with the IAEA during Oct 2012 by hosting an “International Workshop” regarding “Safety of Multi-Unit NPP against External Natural Hazards” to be preceded by a meeting of the “working group” of the IAEA project on “Seismic Safety of NPP sites”. (NOTE KUDANKULAM NPP WAS TO BE INAUGURATED NEARLY A YEAR AGO, AND WAS STOPPED BY STRONG PUBLIC OPPOSITION)

Mr. Sinha added: A year after the Fukushima Dai-No 1 accident on 12 Mar 2012, India was committed to implementing the IAEA action plan on nuclear safety (WHAT PLAN?). The preparation and planning for inviting IAEA’s “Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS)” for peer review of India’s regulatory system(SOUNDS OFFICIOUS, BUT DOES IT EXIST?) was also in progress and, in due course, India will approach the Agency with a request to undertake this mission. “Our experts will continue to participate and assist the IAEA Secretariat (THE VIENNA OFFICE 2300 PEOPLE) in its endeavor to enhance nuclear safety through a cluster of measures it has formulated…The first Operational Safety Review Team (IAEA-OSART) mission to India for Rajasthan NPP Units 3 and 4, is now planned for the end of October 2012″

NUCLEAR POWER GENERATION IS UP. According to Mr. Sinha, nuclear power generation in India has continued to grow due to an increase in the supply of uranium from domestic as well as international sources; and that, this year the country has registered about a 23% increase in (nuclear power?)generation over last year. The average annual availability of the reactors had also increased from 83 to 91%.  India has identified new resources of uranium, and in the last five years, the country’s reserves had registered a steep increase of about 70%.  Production of Uranium (the fuel used by LW-PBW reactors) was 751 Metric tons in 2011-12, an increase of about 15% over the previous year

RADIATION LEVEL CONCERNS: Dr. Sinha highlighted the published results of recently concluded Indian studies (no source given)based on screening newborns, for congenital malformations, in the High Level Natural Radiation Areas(HLNRA) in Kerala, where the radiation fields ranged from less than 1 mGy/year to 45 mGy/year, against the global average of approximately 2.4 mGy/year from natural sources of radiation. During the period August 1995 to December 2011, over 140,000 newborns in the HLNRA and normal radiation level area were screened for different health-related parameters. The studies had shown that there was no significant difference between the populations belonging to HLNRA and normal radiation level area with respect to the frequency of congenital malformations, Down-Syndrome and still-births. No significant difference was observed in the frequency of occurrence of chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei too.  Earlier studies carried out in the same region on nearly 400,000 people did not show any significant increase in the incidence of any type of cancer in the HLNRA, he added.

OUR ANALYSIS AND COMMENTS

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, INDIAS NUCLEAR AMBITIONS ARE IN TROUBLE! We have seen how the people of India, like the people of Japan, have made it abundantly clear to their politicians, that  they strongly oppose more Nuclear Power Plants(NPPs) in their power mix; yet, their governments continue to support nuclear development , no matter what, or who!- We know why.  Both Indian and Japanese government figures (past and present), Industrial barons, Scientists, and most of their press are heavily vested in the nuclear industry.  Put plainly, they sold out long ago, and since Fukushima have found a reversal of fortunes and public opinion. See:  INDIA AT A LOSS IN HOW BEST TO HANDLE PEOPLE’S REJECTION OF NUCLEAR PLANTS @ http://energymaters.com/?p=748.  Given the present circumstances, rather than further endanger their political fortunes, India’s politicians are using the “B” Team- (the AEC) to persuade the people of India about the safety of their planned NPP expansion. PROBLEM IS: People of India won’t buy AEC or IAEA Support promises; and further, want some questions asked which they cannot answer satisfactory.  Japan has learned the hard way, that the IAEA may promise a lot, but delivers nothing but useless advice!

DR. R.K.SINHA – A POLITICIAN WITHOUT HIS GOVERNMENT BLESSING, offers India and the IAEA, this solution:

  1. Lean on the international prestige of the IAEA (not that they have any) BY PAYING THEM TO COME to India, and tell his people that Seismically, India’s NPPs have no problem! ; additionally, to assuage Indian people about the : “Safety of Multi-Unit NPP against External Natural Hazards”. (SEE – THEY TOO ARE WORRIED ABOUT THAT ISSUE. REMEMBER FUKUSHIMA DAI No.1 ?- 4 nukes in one place. ) 
  2. Ask the IAEA to create an “Operational Safety Review Team” (IAEA-OSRT) and tour their NPPs, and pronounce them safe as bread Rajasthan NPP Units 3 and 4 are now planned for the end of October 2012″ – who says IAEA will agree to his requests? Anyway, a new team, to conduct reviews they have never done, and this is supposed to give us a measure of confidence?  We are not that naïve Mr. Sinha!
  3. Next Mr. Sinha says they have found new Uranium deposits.  Big Deal! I guess he plans to give it to Russia, or France or another country for processing as fuel suitable for their NPP, as normally agreed.
  4. Next he talks about Thorium Research (the other nuclear fuel).  Now, that is a really good idea; but unfortunately, for him, just talk!
  5. Lastly, Mr. Sinha talks about radiation level concerns.  No doubt he found a money hungry scientist, who will state anything for fees already received or pending. He is just a part of the lying, conniving team of NPP Purveyors, just like the IAEA.  IT IS ALL A PART OF THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY Modus Operandi (MO);  In all such propositions, a few stand to profit hugely; without regard for public safety.  Notice Mr. Sinha never mentioned the “unmentionable” Nuclear waste, and what to do with it, now and in the future.

We await eagerly the final resolutions of the 56th International IAEA meeting a few days from now, or ever.  Not that we expect anything good to come of it.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

September 22, 2012 at 1:37 AM Comments (27)

USA – NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION (NRC) OPENS A NEW CHAPTER

10 Sep 2012
THE USA-NRC HAS A NEW AND COMBATIVE CHAIRPERSON. Dr. Allison M. Mc Farlane began her appointment by tackling the thorny issue of “Nuclear Waste Disposal” by the USA Nuclear fleet of about 104 Commercial NPPs. On 09 Sep 2012, Dr. Mc Farlane said: “Resolving this issue successfully is a commission priority…Waste (disposal) confidence plays a core role in many major licensing actions.”

“WASTE CONFIDENCE” DEFINED: According to the NRC, “Waste Confidence” is a generic term implying that spent nuclear fuel can be safely stored for decades beyond the licensed operating life of a reactor; without significant environmental effects”. In the past that rule has enabled the NRC to license, or renew licenses without examining the effects of extended waste storage at individual sites; However, the Appeals Court said, the NRC should have considered the potential environmental impact in the event a permanent disposal site for used fuel is never built, and it cited deficiencies in the NRC’s consideration of leaks and fires involving spent fuel pools.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT IS THE BEAVER VALLEY NPP AT SHIPPINGPORT, PA.  On 09 Sep 2012, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered its staff to complete an “Environmental impact review” of temporary on-site storage of used nuclear fuel at the nation’s 104 commercial plants, including the Beaver Valley NPP, in Shippingport. The study, which will be completed within two (2) years, was ordered on 06 Sep 2012, in response to a 08 Jun 2012 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia that the so-called “waste confidence” rule is deficient.

THE APPEALS COURT GIVES THE NRC JUDICIAL AUTHORITY; So, the NRC has suspended issuing, or renewing licenses, dependent on the Waste Confidence Rule. until the court’s mandate is met, NRC officials said.

“BEAVER VALLEY NPP” IS A TWIN NUKE FACILITY – Owned and operated by “FirstEnergy Corp.” The facility creates about 64 used fuel assemblies every 18 months, and is currently seeking spent fuel pond expansion permits; so, will be the first commercial NPP Facility to face the NRC’s new “Waste confidence rule”.

BEAVER VALLEY NO. 2 – COOLING POND BEING EXPANDED. The storage capacity will be increased from 1,088 fuel assemblies to 1,690. Young added that work started on that project in 2011, and is a little more than 50 % complete. The expansion is expected to be completed in the first half of 2013, and will give Unit 2 an additional 10 years of storage.

“FIRST ENERGY CORP” Spokesperson Jennifer Young said on 07 Sep 2012, that its Shippingport, PA  NPP is in the process of moving to a “dry cask storage system” for Unit 1. Older rods will be moved into steel and concrete containers and stored outside in a protected area. Only last year, Spokesperson Todd Schneider said, when the project received federal approval that, Fuel assemblies must be in a cooling pool for at least five (5) years before they can be moved into dry casks; now spokesman Young said the construction of the new system will begin in the fall of 2012 and be completed in 2014. She added the facility will start with six (6) canisters, with the capability to add another 47 canisters later on.

Thanks to the Beaver County Times (Beaver, PA)

NEWS ANALYSIS AND COMMENT

We are very happy indeed that the USA-NRC has someone at the helm once again, and that Chairperson Dr. Mc Farlane is both perceptive and aggressive in pursuit of Nuclear Safety. We needed that! she immediately tackled our greatest concern: That, the USA’s (and the world) Nuclear industry clearly puts profit ahead of public safety. The continued accumulation and disposal of “nuclear waste” is unacceptable, and must be stopped ASAP.

We are also happy that Dr Mc Farlane has found support in the U.S. Court of Appeals finding that: the NRC should have considered the potential environmental impact in the event a permanent disposal site for used fuel is never built, and it cited deficiencies in the NRC’s consideration of leaks and fires involving spent fuel pools. The court’s finding is a bash for the NRC for past inactions. Even so, the Court finding certainly strengthens the NRCs authority, by enabling it to deny permits for time extensions regarding spent fuel pools, and similar. Note that the Beaver Valley No.2 – Spent fuel Tank already has 1,088 fuel assemblies and is expanding to 1690 –By comparison: FUKUSHIMA DAI NO. 1 REACTOR 4, SPENT FUEL POOL HAS ABOUT 1,500 FUEL ASSEMBLIES; Worse yet, there are many crowded spent fuel pools all over the world, and they are not even worrying about it. IT IS A MAD  FOLLY!

WE WISH DR. Mc FARLANE WELL, AND COURAGE  TO FIGHT THE CARELESSNES OF THE GREEDY NUCLEAR INDUSTRY. We would like to remind her that the world is very likely watching the “good-old” USA for a good example of governmental control. VIVA the Waste Confidence Rule!
 

This post is a sequel to: USA NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION STILL HOG-TIED AND IMPOTENT – PART 3 – http://energymaters.com/?p=522

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

September 10, 2012 at 2:39 AM Comment (1)