29 Aug 2012

INDIA’S NATIONAL AUDITOR’S REPORT ON NUCLEAR SAFETY has raised concerns about a weak regulatory body: India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s (AERB).  In its performance audit, the “Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)” warned of a Fukushima or Chernobyl-like disaster if the nuclear safety issue is not addressed by the government. The AERB supervises safety issues at India’s 22 running nuclear plants; and yet, has never been empowered to make rules, enforce compliance or impose substantive sanctions in cases of nuclear safety oversight; at best, can only impose a maximum fine of Rs. 500 as a deterrent in such cases. The auditor’s report added that without a legal status, the AERB has neither the authority for framing or revising rules relating to nuclear and radiation safety, nor to decide on the quantum of penalties – leave alone imposing them.  (True enough, but he is scarcely in a position to change things – not enough political clout).

AERB CONTINUES TO BE AN AUTHORITY SUBORDINATE. Technically, the AERB was constituted through an executive order in 1983; so, it reports to the Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The report says: “The legal status of the AERB continues to be that of an authority subordinate”… there is an urgent need for the government to bolster the status of AERB if it is to qualify as an “independent regulator” in a sector (Nuclear Power Plant -NPP Industry) which is likely to become increasingly important in meeting the country’s energy needs.  “Independence for regulatory bodies” has been granted in a several countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Pakistan and the USA? (YEAH, BUT THEY ARE AS POWERLESS AS THE USA’S NRC (Ref: USA NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION STILL HOG-TIED AND IMPOTENT – PART 3. )  THE NUCLEAR CARTEL WANTS TO PROVIDE THE APPEARANCE OF OVERSIGHT IN THEIR ACTIVITIES, WHILE THEY MAINTAIN ABSOLUTE CONTROL (Just read my next article about the IAEA meeting).

INDIA’S AERB IS LAGGING. The auditor also castigated the AERB for failing to complete a safety policy for the country, even after three decades of its existence. “Out of the 168 standards, codes and guides identified by AERB for development under various thematic areas, 27 safety documents still remained to be developed…”

NO DECOMMISSIONING PLAN YET Even after 13 years from the issue of the “Safety Manual by AERB”, none of the nuclear power plants in India, including those operating for 30 years, and those which had been shut down, had any decommissioning plan.  Problem is: the legislative framework for decommissioning of nuclear power plants has never been legislated (approved by government); hence, the AERB is not empowered to prescribe codes, guides and safety manuals about decommissioning, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had recognized the need for it. (TO OUR KNOWLEDGE ONLY THE USA’S NRC HAS EVER DRAFTED A PROPOSED “NPP DECOMMISSIONING PLAN” BUT IT WAS NEVER INSTITIONALIZED OR COMPLIED WITH –WEAK AS IT IS) (Ref: NUKE DECOMMISSIONING (SHUT-DOWN AND REMOVAL) – HIDDEN COST OF NUCLEAR POWER ) This DECOMMISSIONING PLAN is a good document that never saw the light of day.  We know why, don’t we? Well… because it touches on nuclear waste disposal (a taboo subject worldwide), and non-compliance by the American Nuke fleet, among others.

INDIAN NUKE SITE DEFICIENCY POINTED OUT.  The report said off-site emergency exercises highlighted the need for preparedness to deal with situations involving radiological effects from a nuclear power plant which may extend to public areas; For instance:  It was found that the approach road to the plant site of Tarapur Atomic Power Station was highly congested, which would pose serious problems in dealing with any future emergency. (YES – THAT WAS ONE OF THE LESSONS OF FUKUSHIMA).

Thanks to: NDTV (India) – 23 Aug 2012


CAG’S COMMENTS ARE WELL TAKEN, BUT… India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (SAY who?) felt a need to criticize the Indian nuclear industry.  We have no way to know who tasked him, or what special qualifications he may have.  Perhaps he has come to recognize the need to provide legitimization for his regime, by pointing out the self-evident need to strengthen and legalize the AERB. We believe that higher circles of Indian government, are finally recognizing that the nuclear Industry is not at all popular in India; so, to retain a semblance of legitimacy, they feel pressured to consider greater nuclear Industry scrutiny and control (even if only in lip service); However, the recent events at Kudankulam NPP (Ref: IN INDIA, ANTI-NUKE DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST A SIX NUKE “ENERGY PARK”,  and other proposed Nuke sites have made it plain/evident to those in government, that being pro-nuclear, is tantamount to political suicide at the upcoming elections.  Indian Politicians who are heavily vested in new NPP’s are really in a quandary, and probably expecting a golden parachute for “taking the heat”  (Ref:  INDIA AT A LOSS IN HOW BEST TO HANDLE PEOPLE’S REJECTION OF NUCLEAR PLANTS ).

PLEASE NOTE INDIA’S AUDITOR’S (CAG) NAME WAS NOT EVEN MENTIONED as demonstration of governmental control over the Indian press. We grant that the CAG showed ignorance of the “Lessons of Fukushima”; but then, with a press like India’s how could he get educated about the lessons? , or anything else going on in India’s government ambitious NPP plans; Even to the chagrin of most Indian people who evidently know, and wholly reject additional NPP building in India. THOSE IN GOVERNMENT, WHO DO NOT KNOW/AND UNDERSTAND THAT… JUST DO NOT WANT TO KNOW!

REGRETABLY, THE BOTTOM LINE IN INDIA’S NUCLEAR NON-POLICY IS: India’s federal government introduced a “Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (Bill)”, which sought to provide statutory status to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC – AERB’s boss), in Parliament last year (2011); HOWEVER: THE BILL WAS TABLED (SET-ASIDE WITHOUT CONSIDERATION) IN INDIAN PARLIAMENT ON 22 Aug 2012.  (SIGH !) As New Yorkers are fond of saying: Forget abouut it!

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

August 29, 2012 at 3:33 AM
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