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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)