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SCRAP Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project

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Editor: Nagaraj.M.R.. Vol.07..Issue.12……..19/03/2011

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Editorial : SCRAP Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project
– A B C D of Denocracy – A Lesson for all people’s representatives

HOW MPs ,MLAs , Ministers – PEOPLE’S REPRESENTATIVES MUST FUNCTION
People are the kings , self rulers in a democracy . Peoples representatives must just represent the wishes , aspirations of people. When people in Jaitapur , Maharashtra state of India are totally against a nuke plant in their area and they don’t want it , still the authorities are forcing this project over their head.
Since 63 years of independence , In India the learned IAS babus & Netas are forcing their agendas , SEZs , Projects over the people for their own selfish gains , against the wishes of people. This is not DEMOCRACY.
In india, indirect democracy is the form of governance. In this
form, people’s representatives are bound to raise the questions ,
issues concerning their constituents on their behalf , on the floor of
the house. However the sad part in india even after 63 years of
democracy , is the lobbying is at it’s peak. The lobbying is a
gentleman’s white collared crook’s way of forming favour seeker’s
group , creating a corpus to pay lumpsum bribe & influencing decision
making.
The people’s representatives are bound to represent their people
first , then their party & party think tanks. India has come to this
sorry state of affairs , widespread corruption , huge black economy &
rampant poverty, all due to inefficient legislations & enforcements.
These think tanks & IAS lobby, consider themselves as most super
brains on earth & gives out suggestions . the present state of affairs
is a barometer of their brilliance. These think tanks & IAS lobby are
the hand maidens of lobbyists / bribers.

Now consider the following example :
Mr.raj gandhi is a member of parliament from mandya constituency in
karnataka state. He is a MBA graduate & member of ruling indian
progressive party. The multinational giant M/S GREY HOUND CORPORATION
wants to enter into paper manufacturing business in india. It’s sight
falls on the public sector paper giant mandya national paper mills (
MNPM) in mandya district of karnataka. The MNC effectively lobbies
with the government. The ruling party think tank & the cabinet
advisory group recommends to the government to make strategic
disinvestment in the PSU M/S MNPM. They bring out graph with full
power point presentation stating that it is good for the company as
well as the government. The lobbyists follows it up with media reports
on the positive aspect of strategic disinvestment. A favourable
impression is created in the minds of literate public. The cabinet
committee okays it.

The ” strategic dis investment issue ” comes before the parliament
for legislation / approval. The ruling party issues a party whip to
it’s members to vote in favour of dis investment. However M.P mr.raj
gandhi who is an MBA in his own wisdom also favours the dis
investment. However ,most importantly the constituents – people in
mandya parliamentary constituency through protest marches , mass post
card campaigns lakhs in numbers expresses their disagreement with the
dis investment & urges their MP mr.gandhi to vote against the
disinvestment legislation.

On the D-day in parliament , mr. Raj gandhi as per his party whip &
his own wisdom votes in favour of strategic disinvestment legislation,
much against the wishes of his people , constituents & mis represents
them in parliament. the democracy has failed here. in This way
democracy is being derailed since 62 years in india.

In democracy, party whip , MP or MLA’s own wisdom / brilliance,
think tank & IAS lobby recommendations are all secondary , the
constituent’s of his constituency , people’s wishes aspirations are
of primary importance & supreme. What people need is a honest
representative, who simply delivers the people’s aspirations on the
floor of the house back & forth , without superimposing it with his
own ideas & party ideas. For true democracy , the people’s
representatives must be true postmans.

Towards this end , the people must be educated about their
democratic rights & responsibilities. This is an appeal to the honest
few in the parliament & state legislatures to weed out their corrupt
colleagues , lobbyists, to uphold the dignity of the house & to
install democracy in it’s true form.

Hereby , we do request the Honorable Chief Minister of Maharashtra state to immediately , scrap Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. Jai Hind. Vande Mataram.

Your’s sincerely,
Nagaraj M R

Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Sobering Reflections
By S.G.Vombatkere

13 March, 2011
Countercurrents.org

The tsunami-triggered accident in Fukushima (Japan) Daiichi plant’s Unit 1 (operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO) brings safety issues into question regarding the operation of nuclear power plants (NPPs). In the Daiichi NPP, the automatic shutting down of the reactor by stopping the controlled nuclear fission process, did occur as designed. However, the reactor did not cool down as fast as it was expected and required to do, and called for activating the emergency coolant pumps according to design. But there was no grid power due to a combination of earthquake and subsequent tsunami to operate the pumps. Also, because of flooding due to the tsunami, the dedicated standby generators could not provide power. The standby battery power (standby to the standby generator) was insufficient to operate the pumps at sufficient rate and duration, and so the (radioactive) steam generated due to overheating had to be vented to relieve the increasing pressure. This has put an unmeasured quantum of radioactive elements (radionucleides) into the atmosphere. But that too did not cool down the reactor sufficiently. It was then reported that sea water was being let into the reactor to cool it to prevent a meltdown. By this a further unmeasured amount of radioactive material would be discharged into the environment. The TEPCO website claims that “monitoring goes on around the clock year round” but at the bottom it says in red: “THIS SYSTEM IS CURRENTLY SHUTDOWN”. All this detail is provided to show three things: One, that accidents in NPPs can and do occur for one or more of several reasons; Two, monitoring can fail, and even when it operates, the public is expected to unquestioningly accept the data provided by the NPP authorities as correct, due to official secrecy conditions. Thus, how much of nuclear radiation has already been discharged into the atmosphere and sea water from the Daiichi NPP and how much more will escape in the hours and days to come will never be known. Also, how much is being discharged from the other four affected NPPs is anybody’s guess; Three, Unlike hydel or thermal power plants which can be shut down practically instantaneously, the nuclear fuel in NPPs requires cooling to prevent overheating even in normal conditions. Thus, NPPs always need independent power supply (from the grid or their own standby generators) in an emergency. That is, NPPs are not autonomous in respect of safety.
The Japanese nuclear engineers are making heroic efforts at immense personal risk to prevent a steam explosion (not a nuclear explosion) in the NPP. This is the point at which the design and construction standards of the concrete double containment structure of the nuclear reactor will have to withstand the explosion. This could trigger a partial or total meltdown of the reactor core, similar to what happened in USA in 1971 in the Three Mile Island NPP. (This put the US nuclear power industry into the doldrums until USA revived it by negotiating the nuclear deal with India in 2009). Japan has a reputation for good design and safety standards and good quality control and quality assurance in execution. It would be the fervent wish of every thinking person on the planet that the double containment will not fail and that the engineers will control the desperately delicate situation in the Daiichi NPP. Nobody is as yet even thinking of the costs of containing the accident and the subsequent nuclear clean-up.
But let us now cut to the nuclear situation in India. The issue of Indian design and construction quality standards stands naked when we note that the concrete containment dome of the Kaiga (Karnataka) NPP collapsed when under construction, and had to be rebuilt. It has not been revealed whether it was a failure of design or execution quality. It is not possible to obtain reliable information regarding the operation, safety standards and performance or other cost, constructional or operational aspects of any NPP because of the following reasons: One, Section 18 (Restriction on disclosure of information) and Section 24 (Offences and penalties) of the draconian Indian Atomic Energy Act 1962, do not permit anybody to even ask questions about NPPs, Two, nobody except the nuclear industry is permitted to conduct tests for radioactivity even outside the perimeter of any NPP, Three, the Environment Protection Act 1986, does not apply to NPPs, Four, the safety and monitoring agency (AERB) is not an independent agency and the public has to accept whatever health and safety information is released by the NPP or the AERB, Five, the budget of the DAE is not placed even before Parliament and the power generation and efficiency figures are not available even to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). In short, the Indian nuclear industry is a closed door to the rest of India, and this can be at the cost of public safety and health.
Further, in the event of a nuclear accident, Government of India (GoI) has sought to cap or limit the liability of operators or suppliers of nuclear hardware and technology to assure profits to the US nuclear industry. In simpler language, this means that the real financial cost of post-accident nuclear clean-up and repair would be borne by India, as the liability of the suppliers would be limited to the cap amount, while the real costs of health and livelihood would be borne by the people.
In view of the secrecy and the poor standards of construction even in the nuclear industry, the conflicting parameters of safety, operational cost and radioactive emissions of any NPP leave the public to guess when one of India’s NPPs may suffer a serious accident, and whether we will be able to handle the disaster effectively and efficiently. Indian nuclear engineers are second to none, thus the issue of safety in India’s nuclear establishment is institutional. The secrecy, intransparency, unaccountability and self-certification of the nuclear industry makes one doubt whether we will be able to prevent serious emergency or handle it effectively should it happen.
This also raises questions about the advisability of going for mega NPPs such as planned in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. This is quite apart from the fact of enormous resistance to its construction from local people on the grounds of livelihood and environment. Let us hope that the Indian nuclear establishment would never need to handle a serious accident of the type of Three Mile Island or Chernobyl or Fukushima.
S.G.Vombatkere holds a PhD in civil structural dynamics from I.I.T, Madras, and has extensive structural design and project execution experience.
E-mail: sg9kere@live.com

Children crippled by India’s uranium waste
The Guardian – Asia Pacific – 23Aug

An Observer investigation has discovered a link between Indian electricity stations and physical and mental abnormalities

Hundreds of children in the Punjab have been contaminated with uranium in a pollution scandal with implications that could extend far beyond the borders of India.

Scientists and health workers have sounded the alarm after being confronted with a dramatic rise in birth defects, physical and mental abnormalities, and cancers in the Indian state. A subsequent Observer investigation has uncovered evidence linking the contamination to ash from the region’s coal-fired power stations. Tests on children born in areas around the power stations have revealed that many have high levels of uranium in their bodies.

The metal is concentrated in the fly ash produced when coal is burned. Tests on ground water around the plants show levels of uranium up to 15 times the World Health Organisation’s maximum safe limits.

The revelations coincide with the publication of a report by the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Thermal Engineering journal that warns of an increased radiation hazard to people living near coal-fired thermal power stations.

Staff at two clinics around the Punjabi city of Bathinda — where there are two coal-fired thermal plants — have reported alarming numbers of admissions of severely handicapped children. Children were born with enlarged or small heads, short arms and legs, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and other complications. A German laboratory that tested samples taken from the children found massive levels of uranium in their bodies — in one case more than 60 times the maximum safe limit.

Studies of ground water suggest that while the uranium contamination is heaviest around the power plants, it extends across large parts of the state, which is home to 24 million people. The Indian government is committed to an expansion of thermal plants in Punjab and other states. Around the world, many other countries are planning to build new coal-fired power plants, including China, Russia, India, Germany and the United States. In the UK, there are plans for a coal-fired station at the Kingsnorth facility in Kent.

The children are being treated at the Baba Farid centres for special children in Bathinda and nearby Faridkot. Dr Pritpal Singh, who is in charge of the Faridkot clinic, said the number of children affected had risen dramatically in the past six or seven years and claimed the authorities were determined to bury the scandal. “They can’t just detoxify these kids, they have to detoxify the whole Punjab. That is the reason for their reluctance,” he said.

“They threatened us and said if we didn’t stop commenting on what’s happening they would close our clinic. But I decided that if I kept silent it would go on for years and no one would do anything about it. If I keep silent then the next day it will be my child. The children are dying in front of me.”

Dr Carin Smit, a South African clinical metal toxicologist who arranged for the tests to be carried out, said the situation could not be ignored. “There is evidence of harm for these children in my care and … it is an imperative that their bodies be cleaned up and their metabolism be supported to deal with such a devastating presence of radioactive material,” she said.

“If the contamination is as widespread as it would appear to be — as far west as Muktsar on Pakistan’s border, and as far east as spreading into the foothills of Himachal Pradesh — then millions are at high risk and every new baby born to a contaminated mother is at risk.”

A team of scientists from India’s Department of Atomic Energy visited the area and reported that while the concentration of uranium in drinking water was “slightly high”, there was “nothing to worry about”, although some of their tests recorded levels of uranium as high as 224micrograms per litre (mcg/l) — 15 times higher than the safe level of 15mcg/l recommended by the World Health Organisation. The US Environmental Protection Agency sets a maximum safe level of 20mcg/l. Scientists in Punjab who have studied the presence of uranium in the state have dismissed the government’s denials as a whitewash.

Dr Chander Parkash and Dr Surinder Singh, both from Amritsar’s Guru Nanak Dev University, said it was clear that uranium was present in large quantities in the ground water and should be investigated further.

In the Faridkot centre last week, 15-year-old Harmanbir Kaur’s test results came back and showed she had 10 times the safe limit in her body. Her brother, Naunihal Singh, six, had double the safe levels.

Harmanbir was born in Muktsar, 40km from Faridkot. Her mother, Kulbir Kaur, 37, has watched her child slowly degenerate from a healthy baby into the very ill girl she is today — dribbling constantly, unable to feed herself and lost in a world of her own.

“God knows what sin I have committed. When we go to our village people say there is a curse of God on you, but I don’t believe so,” she said. “Every part of this area is affected. We never imagined that there would be uranium in our kids.”

A few miles down the road in Bathinda, Sukhminder Singh, a 48-year-old farmer, watched his son Kulwinder, 13, staring into space while curling his hands under his chin. The tests showed that Kulwinder had 19 times the maximum safe level of uranium in his body. He has cerebral palsy and has already had seven operations to unbend his arms and legs. He is furious that the government has ignored the evidence of a serious health risk to children in the Punjab.

“The government should investigate it because if our child is affected it will also affect future generations,” he said. “What are they waiting for? How many children do they want to be affected? Another generation?”

Doni Choudhary, aged 15 months, is waiting to be tested, although staff say he shows similar symptoms to children whose results have revealed dangerous levels of uranium, and he is already being treated for suspected uranium poisoning. His mother, Neelum, 22, from the state capital, Chandigarh, says he was born with hydrocephaly — water on the brain. His legs are useless.

“He is dependent on others. After me, who can care for him?” Neelum says. “He tries to speak but he can’t express himself and my heart cries. When will he understand that his legs don’t work? What will he feel?”

Some scientists have also proposed that ground water may have been contaminated by contact with granite lying deep below the thick alluvial deposits that form the Punjab plains, although the parents of most of the children affected say they take their water from the mains supply, which comes from other sources.

Meanwhile, smoke continues to pour from Faridkot’s power station chimneys and lorries shuttle backwards and forwards, taking away the fly ash to be mixed into cement at the Ambuja factory next to the Bathinda power plant.

Inside the plant last week, there was ash everywhere, forming drifts, clinging to the skin, getting into the throat. In the main hall, the LED display showed the four generators are churning out 107 megawatts of electricity.

Ravindra Singh, the plant’s security officer, said that most of the ash went to the cement works, while the rest was dumped in ash ponds. The first coal-fired power station in Punjab was commissioned in Bathinda in 1974. It was followed by another in nearby Lehra Mohabbat in 1998. There is a third to the east, at Ropar.

Tests on ground water in villages in Bathinda district found the highest average concentration of uranium — 57mcg/l, three times the EPA’s safe limit — in the town of Bhucho Mandi, a short distance from the Lehra Mohabbat ash pond. This level of uranium means the lifetime cancer risk in the village is more than 150 times that of the normal population

JAITAPUR NUCLEAR PLANT – IMPACT

A Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) report has criticised the location of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra as sitting on an earthquake zone even as the state government plans to hold a public discussion to clear the air for the proposed reactor. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan plans to rope in atomic energy experts and representatives of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which will set up the project in collaboration with Areva, a French company, to dispel the “misinformation” created by activists at a public discussion in January. The project will have six 1650 MW reactors to be commissioned in a phased manner from 2018.

An impact assessment report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has strongly criticised the nuclear power plant being proposed at Jaitapur in the Konkan region.

The report has indicated that the project – which requires about 968 hectares of land panning five villages – will have a huge negative impact on the social as well as environmental development of not just these villages and the surrounding areas, but also on the Konkan region in general.

The findings suggest that the government subverted facts and called fertile agricultural land barren. It also says that the Jaitapur project is sitting on a high to moderate severity earthquake zone.

The Jaitapur nuclear power complex is located in the ecologically sensitive coastal Maharashtra region which includes Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts. Nuclear Power Corporation of India is building the 9900 megawatt power plant – said to be the world’s largest – in collaboration with French nuclear designing firm Areva. Last month, the Union Environment Ministry gave a conditional go-ahead to the plant. However, it is facing staunch opposition from the locals who fear environmental degradation in the fragile Konkan area.

Maharashtra Congress team heads to Jaitapur

As farmers’ protests boil over in Ratnagiri threatening to delay the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, a concerned Maharashtra government dispatched a Congress team to review the situation.

“A Congress committee is going to Jaitapur. The committee will talk to locals and fishermen there. We will listen to their views and problems,” Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said.

Despite the Environment Ministry’s conditional go-ahead to the plant, protests refuse to die down.

“People who have faced the effects of a nuclear power project in their vicinity told us that this is a devastating project. They said that our next generation will have nothing to live and survive on. We will lose our paddy fields, our plantations and orchards and we will die of hunger,” said Umakant Kambli, a resident of Madban village, Ratnagiri.

“We will die but won’t let this project come up,” said Manda Laxman Wadekar, former Sarpanch.

There is a sense of mistrust against the government. People here say they were not taken into confidence regarding the project, their lands were forcefully taken away, and their democratic protests were illegally thwarted.

Experts have already said that building, safeguarding and providing imported fuel to the reactor will be so costly that power from Jaitapur will be unaffordable.

Now villagers allege the project has neither planned storage and disposal of its nuclear waste, nor drafted any plan to ecologically protect Ratnagiri – a region of rich agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and biodiversity.

Without these plans in place, they say, letting the project come up will be suicidal.

WHY JAITAPUR NUCLEAR PLANT MUST BE OPPOSED

Citizens are demanding answers to questions regarding approval, rehabilitation and land acquisition, costs, radioactive byproducts, reprocessing of spent fuel and disposal of radioactive wastes and civil nuclear liability limits of the Jaitapur nuclear plant that remains unaddressed. It must be answered by the Indian government, says activist Gopal Krishna.
Madban, a small village in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra [ Images ] is opposed to the nuclear plant in Jaitapur proposed by the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India [ Images ]. The project got environmental clearance on November 28 hurriedly to please French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who visted India from December 4-7. The nuclear reactors would be designed and developed by AREVA, a French company.
Prior to this on October 29, more than 3,000 villagers courted arrest after an agitation. The villagers have refused compensation. Former high court judge B G Kolse-Patil, who was served orders preventing him from entering Ratnagiri district, flouted the ban and attended the villagers rally. Former Indian Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas (retired) and former Supreme Court Judge P B Samant too supported the villagers but were stopped by the police from joining the agitation.
The proposed nuclear power park at Madban is situated near the port of Jaitapur in the southern part of Ratnagiri district. It would be the largest single location nuclear power project in the world. It is based on the import of six nuclear power plants from AREVA. In the first phase, two plants are to be built between 2012 and 2017.
It has come to light that in the matter of the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project a rigorous and scientific environment impact assessment and cost benefit analysis has not been performed.
Union Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh [ Images ], in the presence of the chief minister and deputy chief minister of Maharashtra officially announced ‘conditional’ environmental clearance to the JNPP. The citizens of Maharashtra and India are demanding answers to questions regarding approval, rehabilitation and land acquisition, costs, radioactive byproducts, reprocessing of spent fuel and disposal of radioactive wastes and civil nuclear liability limits that remains unaddressed. It must be answered by the Indian government. It is widely felt that it is a Vedanta and Posco kind of clearance given in haste to be repented in leisure.
It appears that the preparations for Sarkozy occupied the Union Cabinet so much that it failed to consult the secretaries of ministries/departments of the government of India on the ramifications in terms of liability from the proposed nuclear plant.
Several organisations and a large number of individuals are campaigning against the plant. The Konkan Bachao Samiti and the Janhit Seva Samiti have been spearheading a campaign against this nuclear power project. There is reliable information that the European regulatory authorities from three countries, Finland, France [ Images ] and UK have jointly written to AREVA, raising certain serious objections to the current design of control and instrumentation for vital safety aspects of Evolutionary Pressurized Reactors plant. It has also been learnt that the US regulator has written to AREVA expressing similar concerns.
Local residents are opposed to the JNPP and have refused to accept any compensation, nor have they demanded a raise in compensation. The project will attract Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 35,000 crore investment in the first two phases. The government is offering Rs 350 crore as compensation to the villagers. It is claimed that there are 2,033 families who would be directly affected by the project on 968 hectares of land. The nuclear project promises power generation of 9,900 MW in phases.
In a backdrop that presented a fait accompli, the biodiversity report prepared by the Bombay Natural History Society formed the basis for the 35 environmental conditions set by the environment ministry while giving the green signal for the nuclear plant. The report recorded the presence of plant and animal life on land and marine both at and around the plant site. The BNHS has also mapped 407 hectares of mangrove vegetation around a 10 km radius of the nuclear plant as well as in some of the affected villages.
The BNHS report contradicted the official 1,200 page environment impact assessment report prepared by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and made public in April, 2010.
The NEERI report had described the land surrounding the nuclear plant as “rocky and barren land with no habitation and vegetation” and hence ruled out any adverse ecological impact in the area. The same area was surveyed during the monsoon by BNHS, which found 134 species of plants on the plateau.
In July, 2010 the BNHS conducted a rapid impact assessment of the biodiversity of the region and found the Madban plateau to be rich in plant and animal diversity with very good marine diversity in adjacent sites of Ambolgad and Kasheli.
The BNHS found 1,000 plant species, NEERI couldn’t find even 500 species. Indeed if the project proponents are assigned to conduct EIA, the report cannot be objective. Therefore, once again the NEERI report is flawed. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, the project proponent, is an undertaking of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE had commissioned NEERI to prepare the EIA report for the Jaitapur plant in 2005).
Earlier, in a letter to the President of India dated September 1, ToxicsWatch Alliance pointed out that “the cost of a single nuclear reactor can be as high as Rs 30,000 crore as in the case of the reactor planned at Jaitapur by AREVA, a French public multinational industrial conglomerate headquartered in Tour Areva near Paris. Consequently, the cost of a reactor can be 20 times the maximum amount of liability. It means that it might be cheaper for the operator to take the risk of paying the maximum liability than to spend, say, 10 per cent extra in adding safety features to the plant.”
It has been found that NEERI’s EIA report is unscientific. This EIA report was made available only a month prior to the public hearing on May 16. It has been alleged on factual grounds that the EIA report reads as if it was authored by the public relations department of NPCIL or Areva.
It may be noted, “The accident at Chernobyl released into the atmosphere an amount of radioactivity equivalent to 400 bombs of the Hiroshima variety. The nuclear project at Jaitapur is about 10 times the size of the Chernobyl Power Plant. The huge radioactive accumulations at the plant site are the principal causes of concern which must be addressed.”
NEERI did not have the competence to assess the project. It entails issues of radioactive radiation. NEERI contends that the project meets Atomic Energy Regulatory Board norms and standards without conducting any independent assessment, relying completely on the AERB. But AERB reports are not part of the EIA.
Unmindful of its admitted incompetence to assess radioactive risk, NEERI certifies the safety of the plant saying, “Through individual event sequence analysis for different initiating events, it is estimated that the plant is provided adequate safety features and measures to mitigate or minimise any unsafe consequences”.
The same EIA report reveals the following, “All the above scenarios explained, namely Design Basis Accidents and Beyond Design Basis Accidents are thoroughly studied and detailed reports are generated as Preliminary Safety Analysis Reports and these reports will be submitted to Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for review and approval for construction of nuclear power project at Jaitapur.” Clearly implying that the safety approval by the AERB is yet to be obtained and despite this it certified the adequacy of the safety of the plant against “any unsafe consequences”.
The threat of a terrorist attack on nuclear plants in India is also considered credible is clear from the specific exclusion in clause 5 (ii) in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill (2010) which has been passed by the Indian Parliament and awaits the President’s assent. It reads: “An operator shall not be liable for any nuclear damage where such damage is caused by a nuclear incident directly due to — an act of armed conflict, hostility, civil war, insurrection or terrorism”.
After the 9/11 terrorist attack in the US, the possibility of terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants is considered quite credible and substantial by US authorities. The DAE has ignored the complete text of a 2009 report presented to the US Congress: on “Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities”. Consequently, amendments were made in US law to require nuclear plant design to address this risk but the Indian legislation on nuclear liability does the contrary.
In his testimony to the parliamentary committee, Union Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar categorically had stated, “under different layers of protection, nuclear assets including nuclear installations are being protected through defence.” However, he admitted that “absolute and foolproof protection cannot be guaranteed for any nuclear or other assets in the country during peace or war.”
Exceptions for acts of terrorism can easily be used by the supplier and the operator to wash their hands off any nuclear disaster. Testimony after testimony before the parliamentary committee had asked for deletion of the word terrorism from the nuclear liability bill but the same is not reflected in the bill which was passed by Parliament.
Misplaced expression of satisfaction by NEERI with NPCIL’s claim of safe storage for 100 years is shocking. This constitutes less than one per cent of the lethality lifetime of the spent fuel. There is no explanation as what will happen to the radioactive waste after 100 years. It is a known fact that India does not have a geological repository for nuclear waste and there are no sites in India suitable for building one.
The EIA report is flawed because of the absence of a specific plan for decommissioning as well. No new nuclear plant can be built in Europe or the US without such a plan. The EIA report is untenable.
The cost of electricity generated from JNPP would be in excess of Rs 9 per unit. This does not include the costs of managing radioactive waste and decommissioning. The current cost of electricity is about Rs 4 per unit. It has been noted in the Rajya Sabha that as far as the cost difference between hydro, thermal and all the available options vis-à-vis nuclear electricity is concerned, the cost difference is 1:3.
If the overall objective of wanting to generate 40,000 MW of nuclear power in the next two decades is considered, the cost difference between conventional and nuclear electricity would be more than Rs 300,000 crore. This amount can build 20,000 hundred-bedded modern hospitals all over the country and 2.5 lakhs of Navodaya Vidyalayas with boarding facilities for 100 students all over the country.
The total installed generating capacity in India as on June 30 was 162,367 MW, comprising 64 percent from fossil fuel, 23 percent from hydro, 3 percent from nuclear and balance 10 percent from renewable energy sources. Evidently, share of nuclear power is quite low. It is possible to generate similar power from alternate sources of energy.
In its last report in 2010, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment & Forests, had recommended that “the government should consult all such ministries/departments which are even remotely concerned with the provisions of a proposed legislation”, the same has not been done. This recommendation has been ignored in the case of Jaitapur nuclear plant as well.
The standing committee referred to how secretaries of ministries of health & family welfare, agriculture, labour & employment, food & public distribution were ignored in the drafting of the Nuclear Liability Bill was a very serious lapse of the Union Cabinet.
It may be noted that secretary, Union ministry of health said, “Since the response system to deal with any kind of emergency of such type, the hospitals are not well-equipped, it is natural that mortality and morbidity due to multiple burn, blasts, radiation injuries and psycho-social impact could be on very high scale and medical tackling of such a large emergency could have enough repercussions in the nearby areas of radioactive fallout.”
She also mentioned that in the entire bill, there is not a single clause which speaks about taking healthcare during radiological emergencies. It reflects only about payment of compensation due to health impacts of such radiation. She suggested while setting up nuclear plants, consideration may also be given to the fact that there should be a hospital having trained doctors near such establishments and arrangements should also be made for free treatment of people who are affected by serious nuclear fallout.
She confessed that “her ministry is nowhere to meet an eventuality that may arise out of nuclear and radiological emergencies.” Similar testimonies from secretaries of other ministries provide a chilling and prophetic forewarning.
In compliance of the suggestion of chairperson of the parliamentary committee during my testimony on August 3 and pursuant to a written submission dated July 7, TWA had specifically drawn the attention of the committee with regard to the narrow definition of the word ‘installation’ and conflict of interest ridden existence of the AERB. In a letter to the committee dated August 12, TWA has questioned the merit of centralised power stations given 35-40 percent transmission and distribution loss from power grids.
The secretary, financial services, ministry of finance, submitted before the committee that “any increase in premium of insurance will lead to increase in the cost of production of electricity for nuclear power. It is argued that higher the liability limit higher will be the insurance premium and subsequently higher will be the cost of electricity production.”
Keeping these concerns in mind, opposition against the nuclear plants are emerging in a huge way.
Will the sane voice of Madban village be able to compel the might of a determined state to bulldoze its nuclear project at any cost, to rethink? The issue what is supreme AREVA’s interest or the interest of villagers. Once again the insincerity and dishonesty of paying lip-service to Mahatma Gandhi’s [ Images ] village republic and autocratically refusing to accord a sovereign status to the village at the same time stands exposed.

Uranium Corporation of India Limited in Jharkhand

UCIL’s underground mines in Jadugoda, Bhatin, Turamdhih, Narwapahar, and its open cast mine at Banduhurang extract 1,000 tons per day (TPD) of uranium ore. Two underground mines in the pipeline at Baghjata and Mahuldih will boost that amount. The ore is processed at the Jadugoda and Turamdih mills with a combined capacity of 5,000 TDP. The company earned $64 million in 2007-08, and made a $3 million profit.

The 20-year lease for UCIL’s mines was up in 2007, and a new application is being processed. Under it, the company wants to add 6.37 hectares to tailing dam capacity and expand production, according to UCIL Chairman and Managing Director Ramendra Gupta. This move requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) drawn up by the Central Institute of Mining & Fuel Research (CIMFR), along with a public hearing.

Addressing the affected community at the May public hearing in Jadugoda, the company represented the local plans as “a marginal expansion.” But the UCIL website promises “a quantum leap in UCIL’s activities” that includes plans to “deepen the existing mines, expand its processing facilities,” and “not only opening new mines, but also the development of the community around its operations.”

While the company has created local schools and provides jobs and social services, villagers who attended the hearing argued that these provisions do not compensate for the health effects and destruction of their way of life.

“Why are we being made to pay such a heavy price, for so many decades”? Asks Hira Hansda, speaking of her three miscarriages and birth to five infants that quickly died. Her husband Sonaram worked at the tailing dam as a casual employee between 1984-87, and like many villagers, he links the deterioration in local health conditions to the arrival of the uranium mines. The last three surveys conducted in the area found increased radiation levels.

Heavy Security at UCIL’s Public Hearing Keeps Villagers Out

The public hearing on UCIL’s new application took place at the heavily fortified camp of the Central India Security Force (CISF) within the UCIL colony at Jadugoda. Conducted by the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board, the proceedings were marked by restrictions on personal liberties under sections of a law applying to situations with the potential to cause civil unrest.

Leaving little room for the public or protesters, the hall was packed with hundreds of UCIL workers and other company beneficiaries who held placards reading: “When compared to hunger, pollution is a small issue,” and “Save UCIL.”

Those who had lost their lands and health to the mines were physically barred from the tent. Outside the proceedings, protesters shouted: “Do not destroy our land,” “No uranium, no uranium waste, no weapons, care for the future.” Many indigenous villagers waved the banner of the Jharkhandi Organization Against Radiation (JOAR), winner of the Germany-based Nuclear Free Future Award for its long crusade against the hazards of uranium mining in Jadugoda. The protesters denounced the hearing as “a farce” and demanded that it be immediately stopped.

Villager and JOAR president, Ghanashyam Biruli, issued the demands: no new uranium mines, bring the existing mine under international safety guidelines, return unused tribal land, provide livelihood and rehabilitation to displaced people, clean up the contamination, commission an independent study of environmental contamination and health effects, and monitor water bodies to ensure that the radionuclides do not seep into the aquifer that is the lifeline of more than 100,000 people. The activists also argued that since the country can buy uranium on the international market, there is no compelling need to expand UCIL’s capacity.

The real compelling need, they asserted, was protecting health and the environment. The 2008 health survey by the Indian chapter of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) provided clear evidence, finding that:

* Couples living near the mines were “1.58 times more vulnerable to primary sterility” with 9.6 percent of couples in study villages unable to conceive after three years of marriage, compared with 6.27 percent in a reference (control) group.

* Birth defects followed a similar pattern with 1.84 times higher incidence: “[B]abies from mothers, who lived near uranium mining operation area, suffered a significant increase in congenital deformities,” according to the report. While 4.49 percent of mothers living in the study villages reported bearing children with congenital deformities, only 2.49 percent of mothers in reference villages fell under this category.” The national rate for people with disabilities (including congenital deformities) is 3 percent, according to official government statistics.

* Deformed babies near the mining operations are almost 6 times more likely to die, with 9.25 percent mothers in the study villages reporting congenital deformities as the cause of death of their children. In the reference village, mothers reported 1.70 percent of babies died of deformities.

* Cancer deaths were also higher: 2.87 percent of households in study villages attributed the cause of death to be cancer, compared to 1.89 percent in the reference village.

These factors contributed to a lowered life expectancy. In the study villages 68.33 percent of the population died before reaching the state’s average life expectancy: 62 years old.

UCIL Denies Contamination

Despite such alarming reports, radiation data are not made public because they fall under the purview of the Atomic Energy Act of 1962. UCIL / DAE (Department of Atomic Energy) also cites security concerns for refusing to release data on health of the workers. But Buddha Weeps in Jadugoda, a 1999 award-winning film by Shri Prakash documented that, despite a law mandating regular monitoring, in the last five- to ten-year period few workers underwent blood and urine tests to assess the impact of radiation.

Independent scientists have confirmed the danger. Professor Hiroaki Koide, from the Research Reactor Institute, Kyoto University, Japan, sampled soil and air in the surrounding villages and documented that “The circumference of tailing ponds is impacted with uranium radiation. The strength of the radiation is of 10 to 100 times high in comparison to places without contamination. …There are places where uranium concentration is high in the road or the riverside, and it is thought that tailings are used for construction material,” including on villagers’ houses.” Tailings are production waste material that, according to critics are unsafely stored, dumped, and used for landfills, roads and construction.

UCIL Technical Director D Acharya denied that the company was responsible for radiological contamination. “UCIL’s safety and pollution control measures are at par with the international standards, comparable at any point of time,” he said. The company is dealing with naturally occurring materials, he noted, the very low grade ore extracted is a minimal environmental hazard, and the company is not enriching the ore in Jadugoda.

But tacitly acknowledging the risks, UCIL head, Gupta, noted in the 2008 Annual Report that “External gamma radiation, Radon concentration, suspended particulate matters, airborne long lived Alpha activity and concentration of radio nuclides- uranium and Radium in surface and ground water, in soil and food items etc are monitored regularly.”

Although he presented no evidence, UCIL Technical Director Acharya said that allegations of health problems are canards spread by anti-uranium lobbies, and that the physical fitness of the employees can be gauged the UCIL football team’s success in winning the DAE tournaments for the past five years.

“From time to time we have also conducted structured health surveys and examinations, by independent sources,” said Acharya. “One was done by the erstwhile Bihar Assembly, about ten years ago, but the findings are absolutely normal.” (The area was part of Bihar at the time.) “The effects of radiation are being constantly monitored by independent watchdogs, and there are health physics experts who are always with us, for round-the clock-vigil of the situation. Hence, there is really no cause of concern,” he added.

That is not the experience of many villagers, who link serious health problems to the mines. Like many of the women in the surrounding areas, Hansda’s pregnancies were a time of terror. “It fills within us fear and apprehensions of the possible ordeal that may be in store. Who knows what would be the fate of the baby,” she said.

INDIA SOLD OUT TO NUCLEAR POWER GENERATING MNCs DIRT CHEAP

Before enacting the law on “Nuclear Accident Liability Bill” , Government of India should consider the following issues
1. The term Nuclear Accident must include the damages caused due to radiation leak affecting the employees in the nuclear facility , the people living near the facility & people affected by the effluents , scraps generated by the nuclear facility.
2. The government of India does not have any right to fix a price tag for the lives of Indians , that too cheaper than US public.
3. The Nuclear power generating companies must incorporate safety infrastructure & procedures as they do in US market , not any obsolete technology.
4. In USA & other developing countries , they have very huge , efficient social security network , vast pool of resources put in by nuclear power generating companies themselves , to take care of the affected in case of a nuclear accident . In India we don’t have that type of social security network nor matching resources , therefore ideally India must fix a nuclear liability cap much higher than US market in dollar terms.
5. Also the company must be made liable for the complete clean up of the facility & surrounding towns , villages , health care to all the affected victims on par with US market , in case a nuclear accident happens.
6. The Nuclear Equipment Suppliers , Nuclear Plant Operators together with their respective governments like USA , UK must stand as guarantors .
7. The Life Insurance Companies in India Must pay insured amount to nominees of insured in case of nuclear accidents / radiation affects in addition to compensation by the nuclear power companies . as of now many life insurance companies are not covering nuclear accidents / radiation affects.

Neither our MPs , Cabinet ministers nor IAS babus have the right to decide the fate of common people & fix a rate for lives of Indians. They are not experts in this field , they should not conclude any deals , decisions in a hush hush manner . Many scams have come out of hush hush deals . Nobody , no MP , no minister , no IAS officer has paid from his personal pocket to the victims of industrial disasters , etc. After all MPs , Ministers , IAS babus are public servants , they must just represent the voices of people , we people don’t want their personal expertise & opinions. Our Policy makers must heed to the public advice of senior scientists , experts in the field of nuclear power generation .

Ofcourse , as a result unit price of electricity will get front loaded , we may not get cheap electricity . but the lives of Indians are much valuable than Electricty. The person who benefits from cheap electricity – Industrialists does not pay from his pocket to the victims of disasters . Development not at the cost of safety & lives of common people. This must dawn on our ill informed policy makers at the earliest .

Letter To NHRC On Nuclear Liability For IAEA’s Treaty
By Gopal Krishna

To,
Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan
The Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi

Sub: Human rights violations from nuclear damage – its impact on human life and enviro-occupational health

Sir,
This Hon’ble Commission has been seriously pursuing the problem of “enviro-occupational health”, and has been taking “preventive” as well as “remedial” measures. It is humbly brought to your notice that there is another equally serious enviro-occupational hazard which is exposure from radioactive radiations and wastes. The issue of liability for nuclear damage is directly linked to it. The grave problem of diseases caused to present and future generations by radiation exposures is required to be addressed as it affects environment and human health and violates Article 21 of the Constitution, Directive Principles as well as “human rights” as defined under the UDHR, ICCPR and ICESCR.
2. That at the outset, the Applicant wishes to refer to the problem of exposure from radioactive radiations. The Supreme Court has looked at the entire issue, keeping in view the Directive Principles as well as Article 21 of the Constitution, and held that “life” includes right to health and medical care etc. There is no database on the records of the Government to show, to the best of Applicant’s knowledge, as to what actions the Government has taken, namely, how many persons have been reported to be suffering from exposure to radioactive radiation? How many have died? Did they receive any compensation? How many persons suffering from it are receiving treatment?
3. That the Applicant is an environmental health researcher who was invited to make submissions before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests following a written submission on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010 which is meant to pave the way for India to sign International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage, 1997.
4. That in its 25 page report on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on 18th August, 2010.observes, “When the Committee inquired from the Secretaries of Ministries/Departments of Government of India who appeared before the Committee as to whether the draft nuclear liability Bill was referred to them for their views/comments, some of them viz. Ministries of Health & Family Welfare, Agriculture, Labour & Employment, Food & Public Distribution, etc. replied in the negative. The Committee is of the opinion that Government must have sought the opinion of Ministries which are even distantly related to any provision of the legislation. The Committee, therefore, recommends that in future Government should consult all such Ministries/ Departments which are even remotely concerned with the provisions of a proposed legislation.” This Hon’ble Commission may take cognizance of the submissions of these Secretaries and direct the concerned authorities to internalize their suggestions in the text of the Bill to protect the human rights of Indian citizens and safeguard intergenerational equity.
5. That, in view of the facts mentioned above, the applicant humbly submits that the Hon’ble Commission may kindly initiate appropriate proceedings and issue directions to all the concerned Secretaries of the Central Government and relevant States/UTs with regard to the following :
How would they respond in the event of a nuclear disaster?
Do they know as to how many industries/factories exist in the States/UTs where radioactive material is used? Is there an inventory of products wherein the said material is used?
What is the total number of workers employed in the nuclear power industries and other nuclear installations?
Whether there is regular medical check-up and whether medical facilities exist for workers and communities in the vicinity of nuclear installations?
Whether there is any record of persons who died because of radioactive radiation?
How many persons suffer from radioactive radiation and whether they are receiving regular treatment for the said disease?
What steps States/UTs have taken to check/prevent occurrence of radioactive radiations and how many hospitals dealing with the enviro-occupational diseases exist in the States/UTs.
How many institutions in the country have the competence to decontaminate and how many medical, occupational health and scientific institutions can diagnose radiation exposure?
What action has been taken by the central government and the State Governments/UTs have taken to protect exposure from radiation in the future?
6. That it is submitted that this Hon’ble Commission for the purpose of collecting the above information, may also take the benefit of its experience in the case of enviro- occupational diseases which are preventable but incurable. By giving medicines, impact of radioactive radiation can be reduced and life span can be prolonged but ultimately fate of the affected person is painful death. A brief note on the issue of liability from nuclear damage and the submissions of the concerned Secretaries of the central government is enclosed as Annexure A
7. That the applicant wishes to bring to this Hon’ble Commission’s notice that India has ratified Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) but its provisions have not been complied with. India is yet to ratify ILO’s Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974 which is concerning Prevention and Control of Occupational Hazards caused by Carcinogenic Substances and Agents took cognizance of the Radiation Protection Convention and Radiation Protection Recommendation. It refers to the work done by International Agency for Research on Cancer and The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) that provides guidance on all aspects of protection against ionising radiation. Article 6 of the ILO’s Radiation Protection Convention with regard to “Maximum permissible doses of ionising radiations which may be received from sources external to or internal to the body and maximum permissible amounts of radioactive substances which can be taken into the body” has been ignored. Article 7 of the Convention calls for “Appropriate levels” be fixed in accordance with Article 6 for workers who are directly engaged in radiation work and are (a) aged 18 and over; (b) under the age of 18, No worker under the age of 16 to be engaged in work involving ionising radiations and Article 8 that seeks “Appropriate levels (to be) fixed in accordance with Article 6 for workers who are not directly engaged in radiation work, but who remain or pass where they may be exposed to ionising radiations or radioactive substances.” Drafters of the Nuclear Liability Bill appear to have ignored their recommendations.
8. It is humbly prayed that this Hon’ble Commission may enquire /investigate into the problem of radioactive radiation and issue necessary directions/recommendation for its prevention and appropriate remedial steps to the Central Government/State Governments and UTs.

Yours Faithfully
Gopal Krishna

NUCLEAR DISASTER IN MYSORE ?

Even in developed countries like USA & UK mal – handling of radio
active
materials takes place now & then, which in itself constitute nuclear
disasters
on small scale. Refer the Deccan Herald ( 12/10/03 to 18/10/03) for
details. few
years back, there were media reports about certain containers with
radio active
materials dumped in the open in Mysore city Railway Station. In Kaiga
nuclear
power project a doom collapsed. In India how many cases of
mal-handling of radio
active materials have taken place ? No public knowledge . In the back
drop of
corrupt ,negligent hush-hush, buck passing work culture in most of the
government service, I do want to know from the union Health Minister &
the
Karnataka State Health Minister, how safe are we from the processing &
storage
of radio active materials at M/s REMP, Mysore M/s REMP Kerala, & M/s
UCIL
Jadaguda Jharkhand ? How the spent fuel is disposed off in nuclear
power plants
in India ? few months back there were media reports about ill effects
of
radiation on the employees & peoples of adjacent villages near the
operations
site of M/s Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. Jadaguda Jharkhand &
Near the
Operations site of M/s REMP in Kerala.
In tsunami waves onslaught of december 2004 , the vital facilities of
kundakulam
nuclear reserch station in tamilnadu were damaged . just last week
tremors of
earth quake were felt in kaiga nuclear power plant in kaiga ,
karnataka . if
anything untoward happens as a result of natural calamities or human
failure ,
etc , what sort of contigency plans the government has got ready for
the safety
of public ?
Even some of the insurance companies like M/s Met Life India Insurance
Co. don’t
cover the risk of physical / mental disabilities or death caused due
to nuclear
hazards . In such an event who will bear the cost of compensation ?
How the
quantum of compensation is calculated ? will you take into
consideration the
insurance policies brought by individuals ? Give me information about
the safety
measures taken by M/s REMP, M/s UCIL & other related agencies at all
it’s
operation sites / nuclear sites.

Uranium Corporation of India Limited: Wasting Away Tribal Lands
by Moushumi Basu, Special to CorpWatch
October 7th, 2009

“I have had three miscarriages and lost five children within a week of
their births,” says Hira Hansda, a miner’s wife. “Even after 20 years
of marriage we have no children today.” Now in her late forties, she
sits outside her mud hut in Jadugoda Township, site of one of the
oldest uranium mines in India.
The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) operates that mine,
part of a cluster of four underground and one open cast mines and two
processing plants, in East Singbhum district in the Eastern Indian
state of Jharkhand. The deepest plunges almost one kilometer into the
earth.
Incorporated as a public sector enterprise under the Department of
Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1967, UCIL has sole responsibility for mining
and processing all of India’s uranium. And since the strength of the
Jadugoda region’s uraninite ore is extremely low, it takes many tons
of earth as well as complex metallurgical processes to yield even a
small amount of useable uranium ore—along with tons of radioactive
waste, disposed of in unlined tailing dams.
UCIL processes the ore into yellowcake and sends it to the Nuclear
Fuel Complex in Hyderabad, where it is officially designated for use
in nuclear reactors. But it is an open secret that some of the nuclear
material becomes the key ingredient in India’s nuclear arsenal. (India
is one of only three states—along with Israel and Pakistan—that are
not signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
Weapons. North Korea withdrew from the Treaty in 2003.)
Unhealthy Villages
Radiation and health experts across the world charge that toxic
materials and radioactivity released by the mining and processing
operations are causing widespread infertility, birth defects and
cancers. A 2008 health survey by the Indian chapter of International
Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), found that “primary
sterility was found to be more common in the people residing near
uranium mining operations area.”
Jadugoda residents Kaderam Tudu and his wife, Munia, considered
themselves fortunate when their infant was born alive, until, “I found
that my baby son did not have his right ear and instead in its place
was a blob of flesh,” says Tudu, a day worker in his late thirties.
Their son, Shyam Tudu, now eight, has a severe hearing impairment.
Even children who appear healthy are impacted. “The youths from our
villages have become victims of social ostracism,” says Parvati
Manjhi, and cannot find spouses. “And a number of our girls have been
abandoned by their husbands, when they failed to give birth,” Now
middle-aged, Parvati and her husband, Dhuwa Manjhi, who used to work
for UCIL, are childless.
Harrowing tales fill the region around the mines, and add irony to the
area’s name, Jharkhand, which in the local tribal language means
“forest endowed with nature’s bounties.” If the lush land was the
indigenous population’s boon for centuries, its rich mineral reserves
have become their bane. Six decades of industrialization has depleted
the forest cover, degraded the environment, displaced tribal peoples—
who along with Dalit (“untouchables”) form an oppressed underclass—and
devastated a way of life deeply interwoven with nature.
Despite India’s economic boom and proximity to one of the country’s
richest mineral reserves, the villages in Jharkhand are now among the
poorest in the country, according to the Center For Science &
Environment’s (New Delhi) 2008 report “Rich Lands Poor People.”

Uranium Corporation of India Limited in Jharkhand

UCIL’s underground mines in Jadugoda, Bhatin, Turamdhih, Narwapahar,
and its open cast mine at Banduhurang extract 1,000 tons per day (TPD)
of uranium ore. Two underground mines in the pipeline at Baghjata and
Mahuldih will boost that amount. The ore is processed at the Jadugoda
and Turamdih mills with a combined capacity of 5,000 TDP. The company
earned $64 million in 2007-08, and made a $3 million profit.
The 20-year lease for UCIL’s mines was up in 2007, and a new
application is being processed. Under it, the company wants to add
6.37 hectares to tailing dam capacity and expand production, according
to UCIL Chairman and Managing Director Ramendra Gupta. This move
requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental
Management Plan (EMP) drawn up by the Central Institute of Mining &
Fuel Research (CIMFR), along with a public hearing.
Addressing the affected community at the May public hearing in
Jadugoda, the company represented the local plans as “a marginal
expansion.” But the UCIL website promises “a quantum leap in UCIL’s
activities” that includes plans to “deepen the existing mines, expand
its processing facilities,” and “not only opening new mines, but also
the development of the community around its operations.”
While the company has created local schools and provides jobs and
social services, villagers who attended the hearing argued that these
provisions do not compensate for the health effects and destruction of
their way of life.
“Why are we being made to pay such a heavy price, for so many
decades”? Asks Hira Hansda, speaking of her three miscarriages and
birth to five infants that quickly died. Her husband Sonaram worked at
the tailing dam as a casual employee between 1984-87, and like many
villagers, he links the deterioration in local health conditions to
the arrival of the uranium mines. The last three surveys conducted in
the area found increased radiation levels.
Heavy Security at UCIL’s Public Hearing Keeps Villagers Out
The public hearing on UCIL’s new application took place at the heavily
fortified camp of the Central India Security Force (CISF) within the
UCIL colony at Jadugoda. Conducted by the Jharkhand State Pollution
Control Board, the proceedings were marked by restrictions on personal
liberties under sections of a law applying to situations with the
potential to cause civil unrest.
Leaving little room for the public or protesters, the hall was packed
with hundreds of UCIL workers and other company beneficiaries who held
placards reading: “When compared to hunger, pollution is a small
issue,” and “Save UCIL.”
Those who had lost their lands and health to the mines were physically
barred from the tent. Outside the proceedings, protesters shouted: “Do
not destroy our land,” “No uranium, no uranium waste, no weapons, care
for the future.” Many indigenous villagers waved the banner of the
Jharkhandi Organization Against Radiation (JOAR), winner of the
Germany-based Nuclear Free Future Award for its long crusade against
the hazards of uranium mining in Jadugoda. The protesters denounced
the hearing as “a farce” and demanded that it be immediately stopped.
Villager and JOAR president, Ghanashyam Biruli, issued the demands:
no new uranium mines, bring the existing mine under international
safety guidelines, return unused tribal land, provide livelihood and
rehabilitation to displaced people, clean up the contamination,
commission an independent study of environmental contamination and
health effects, and monitor water bodies to ensure that the
radionuclides do not seep into the aquifer that is the lifeline of
more than 100,000 people. The activists also argued that since the
country can buy uranium on the international market, there is no
compelling need to expand UCIL’s capacity.
The real compelling need, they asserted, was protecting health and the
environment. The 2008 health survey by the Indian chapter of
International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)
provided clear evidence, finding that:
* Couples living near the mines were “1.58 times more vulnerable to
primary sterility” with 9.6 percent of couples in study villages
unable to conceive after three years of marriage, compared with 6.27
percent in a reference (control) group.
* Birth defects followed a similar pattern with 1.84 times higher
incidence: “[B]abies from mothers, who lived near uranium mining
operation area, suffered a significant increase in congenital
deformities,” according to the report. While 4.49 percent of mothers
living in the study villages reported bearing children with congenital
deformities, only 2.49 percent of mothers in reference villages fell
under this category.” The national rate for people with disabilities
(including congenital deformities) is 3 percent, according to official
government statistics.
* Deformed babies near the mining operations are almost 6 times more
likely to die, with 9.25 percent mothers in the study villages
reporting congenital deformities as the cause of death of their
children. In the reference village, mothers reported 1.70 percent of
babies died of deformities.
* Cancer deaths were also higher: 2.87 percent of households in study
villages attributed the cause of death to be cancer, compared to 1.89
percent in the reference village.
These factors contributed to a lowered life expectancy. In the study
villages 68.33 percent of the population died before reaching the
state’s average life expectancy: 62 years old.
UCIL Denies Contamination
Despite such alarming reports, radiation data are not made public
because they fall under the purview of the Atomic Energy Act of 1962.
UCIL / DAE (Department of Atomic Energy) also cites security concerns
for refusing to release data on health of the workers. But Buddha
Weeps in Jadugoda, a 1999 award-winning film by Shri Prakash
documented that, despite a law mandating regular monitoring, in the
last five- to ten-year period few workers underwent blood and urine
tests to assess the impact of radiation.
Independent scientists have confirmed the danger. Professor Hiroaki
Koide, from the Research Reactor Institute, Kyoto University, Japan,
sampled soil and air in the surrounding villages and documented that
“The circumference of tailing ponds is impacted with uranium
radiation. The strength of the radiation is of 10 to 100 times high in
comparison to places without contamination. …There are places where
uranium concentration is high in the road or the riverside, and it is
thought that tailings are used for construction material,” including
on villagers’ houses.” Tailings are production waste material that,
according to critics are unsafely stored, dumped, and used for
landfills, roads and construction.
UCIL Technical Director D Acharya denied that the company was
responsible for radiological contamination. “UCIL’s safety and
pollution control measures are at par with the international
standards, comparable at any point of time,” he said. The company is
dealing with naturally occurring materials, he noted, the very low
grade ore extracted is a minimal environmental hazard, and the company
is not enriching the ore in Jadugoda.
But tacitly acknowledging the risks, UCIL head, Gupta, noted in the
2008 Annual Report that “External gamma radiation, Radon
concentration, suspended particulate matters, airborne long lived
Alpha activity and concentration of radio nuclides- uranium and Radium
in surface and ground water, in soil and food items etc are monitored
regularly.”
Although he presented no evidence, UCIL Technical Director Acharya
said that allegations of health problems are canards spread by anti-
uranium lobbies, and that the physical fitness of the employees can be
gauged the UCIL football team’s success in winning the DAE tournaments
for the past five years.
“From time to time we have also conducted structured health surveys
and examinations, by independent sources,” said Acharya. “One was done
by the erstwhile Bihar Assembly, about ten years ago, but the findings
are absolutely normal.” (The area was part of Bihar at the time.) “The
effects of radiation are being constantly monitored by independent
watchdogs, and there are health physics experts who are always with
us, for round-the clock-vigil of the situation. Hence, there is really
no cause of concern,” he added.
That is not the experience of many villagers, who link serious health
problems to the mines. Like many of the women in the surrounding
areas, Hansda’s pregnancies were a time of terror. “It fills within us
fear and apprehensions of the possible ordeal that may be in store.
Who knows what would be the fate of the baby,” she said.

The Tragedy Of Fukushima Is A Tragedy For All Mankind
By Peter Chamberlin
13 March, 2011
Countercurrents.org
The Tragedy of Fukushima is not yet fully known, at least not in terms of the long-term effects of the radiation released today and tomorrow, perhaps for mankind’s entire “half-lifetime.” We don’t know (meaning our best scientists don’t know) what will grow out of the hole which has been blasted in our collective consciences today. Our knowledge of atomic science, just like our understanding of all earth science, is in its infancy, yet we have chosen to build nuclear reactors in geologically risky locations. Beyond the risky siting problems, lie the earth forces of wind and water, which we only now beginning to see.
Our best minds could figure-out how to take the nuclear fire out of the oven and bring it into our neighborhoods, but they could not guarantee a fail-safe way to go about this—yet, they enthusiastically urged our leaders to dot the countryside with these nuclear pipe-bombs, euphemistically dubbed “reactors.” A “REACTOR” is an abomination, classified as “science.” Here is an untechnical description of a reactor operation:
Inside a closed metal and concrete container, a piece of uranium is ignited, like a piece of coal that is partially smothered, enough to prevent the glowing coal from bursting into open flames. The glowing uranium rod is prevented from open ignition by smothering in special high-temperature coolant. The heat released by this partially burning rod of uranium evaporates water into steam, which flows through pipes like a modern equivalent of a steam engine. The nuclear-powered steam engine turns an electrical generator, which sends electricity flowing through the wires.
If the uranium rod is allowed to burn too hot, it creates more heat than the coolant can transfer and the REACTOR begins to melt, before the fuel rods melt.
If the water system shuts-down for an extended time, the steam being created can’t flow, the pressure builds until the REACTOR explodes, leaving the burning fuel rods fully exposed. The rods melt, burning through the floor of the REACTOR.
If all goes well, none of this ever happens, but like all things made by the hands of man, every mechanical system eventually breaks-down. Our best minds knew all these risks before the first reactor was ever built, yet they recommended that reactors should be built in every country on the face of the earth. Our scientists didn’t care to consider that the day might come when the earth would bite back.
The tragedy of Fukushima is a tragedy for all mankind. We do not yet see it, but this event will be remembered as a turning point in the development of humanity. From this point forward, if nothing else, Fukushima will give pause to every politician, or technocrat in the future who holds up the torch of “nuclear power” as the great hope for our energy-starved planet. But the greater ramifications of the environmental impact from this event will echo down through the corridors of human time, in both subtle and more obvious ways. The first concrete way that this will impact future lives will be in the horrible mutations suffered by those exposed to burning-type of radiation, near the site of the explosion. Children of the workers and neighbors of this plant, and their children, will suffer much higher rates of extreme deformation of their future fetuses, produced after this event.
The more subtle widespread genetic damage is produced by the release of enormous amounts of highly-radioactive dust into the atmosphere, as it is carried around the planet, is something which we can only guess at from our perspective. Today, we cannot foresee the end of this tragic catastrophic event. The only thing we know for certain, is that it is all ending very badly.
Our scientists all thought that something like this would never happen, or so they said. The truth is, they played the odds and lost, or rather the Japanese people lost. Nuclear power has always been a cosmic roll of the dice, with the fate of every living being on planet earth riding on the outcome of the roll. Our great leaders fully understood that bad things might happen, yet they confidantly invested your tax dollars, in order to gamble your lives that one day the radioactive wolf would not come knocking at your door. Well the wolf is outside and he is starting to howl.
Scientists are so caught-up in their own self-worship that they convince themselves that they know what is best for all of us, especially if it means profit or power for them. The self-proclaimed “geniuses” who have unleashed the nuclear genie for our advancement, have made decisions for us which God Himself, chose to leave alone. Human evolution comes about when the species reaches a dead-end, requiring the species to grow (evolve) in some way, in order to go forward. Human technology follows the same pattern of growth–forward momentum reaches a point of impasse, until the impeding wall is breached, allowing forward momentum to resume.
Nuclear power has always been thought-of in these terms–the technology which was built upon the discovery of the thermonuclear reaction, thinking that “nuclear power” was a great leap forward….IT WAS NOT. As I have explained in my steam engine analogy, nuclear power is pseudo-science. It is the adapting of Nineteenth Century technology over the discovery of the thermonuclear reaction and calling it a “REACTOR,” claiming that it was a great leap forward for all mankind, alleviating us from our addictions to coal and oil-fired electricity. We have our need for electricity–vs–unlimited energy from enriched uranium. We have not bridged the gap between them with so-called “nuclear power” (really steam power).
When we have fully understood nuclear science we will have naturally progressed to the knowledge of converting atomic energy into electricity. Until then, we are just burning-up a very limited resource, while endangering all of our lives. In our effort to understand the true science involved in the thermonuclear reaction we will come to understand the real science of nuclear fusion. Until we learn to harness the astronomical amounts of energy being released in the fusion reaction, we will just be spinning our tires, stuck in the same old mud, with our heads still firmly in our asses.
It may be, that when we finally really understand exactly what we have gotten our hands on, we will figure-out that somehow, our evolution as an intelligent species has required a radioactive environment, in order to cause specific species’ mutations that we have not even dreamed of. Who knows? Maybe God had this on His mind all along. Since He is the hidden hand behind our evolution, He must have had reasons for allowing man to open the nuclear nutshell. The discovery of atomic energy was a natural outcome of our primitive scientific quest, just as the discovery of converting fusion energy into electrical energy must be the next step in our quest to improve the species.
Perhaps He who sees all things before they happen put “nuclear power” before us to become the great wall to human progress which together we muct breach. Perhaps we will see this phase in our technological development for what it is, a failed experiment, so that we may absorb the lessons learned from the tragedy at Fukushima and go on. This is my great hope.
It is time to leave nuclear power behind.
peterchamberlin@naharnet.com

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