On 23 March 2013, NDTV featured one of its Walk the Talk features with Shekhar Gupta interviewing Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This was reproduced a few days later in the Indian Express. Coming shortly after the second anniversary of the multiple accidents at Fukushima, the purpose of the interview is made clear by Gupta late in the interview when he says:
…some of us who support the idea of [expanding] nuclear power [in India] need more reassurance from people like you.
And Amano does oblige by asserting,
with more caution, with further measures, I am very confident that nuclear power is much safer than before.
To those already supportive of more nuclear reactors, the interview is likely to have been successful in offering them the assurance that they need, not so much for themselves, but to silence those skeptical of the expansion. But if one reads the interview more carefully, it is clear that the assurance is not really a guarantee that no catastrophic accidents will happen. Continue reading Nuclear Energy – Reassurances Don’t Guarantee Safety: M V Ramana→
This is a review by NITYANAND JAYARAMAN of M.V. Ramana’s book The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin/Viking).
Narayanasamy’s monthly promises of power from the Koodankulam nuclear plant may be something of a joke in Tamil Nadu. But the periodic promises served a function. They kept one section of Tamil Nadu hopeful that commissioning Koodankulam will solve the state’s power crisis, and therefore resentful of the agitators who were seen to be putting their own lives, livelihoods and safety over the needs of the state.
In late 2012 Penguin published the first solo book by Princeton University-based physicist M.V. Ramana. The book is titled The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India.
Ramana’s commentary is witty, articulate and rich with anecdotes. He makes a solid case for his central thesis – that delivering on the promises of power or security were never the actual goal of India’s nuclear program, and probably never will be. Rather, promises are the engines that power the program, he argues. By holding out the twin ideals of unlimited electricity and infallible security in the form of a credible nuclear deterrent, India’s nuclear establishment has carved for itself an enviable position. It is answerable to no one but the Prime Minister, and can spend billions over decades with nothing to show for the expense.
As Japan shut down its last reactor, the Koodankulam project is to go critical in ten days. Because Japan depends on local consensus for its nuclear decisions, unlike the World’s Largest Democracy, the views of Japanese people counts for something. Thousands of Japanese marched in celebrations to celebrate the switching off of the last of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors on Saturday May 5th.
Traditional ‘koinobori’ fish-shaped banners for Children’s Day have become a potent symbol of the Japanese anti-nuclear movement, symbolizing the commitment to leave a safe and clean earth to children.
Meanwhile, back home in Koodankulam, as this guest post by DEEPA RAJKUMAR reminds us, unrelenting state repression continues of the massive, non-violent struggle against the proposed nuclear plant there.
6,800 people in Koodankulam face charges of sedition and/or waging war against the state, possibly the largest number so charged ever, in colonial or independent India, in just one police station.
These are moments when spaces like Kafila become so important.
On the 19th of March, news came in that Tamilnadu Police men of six districts led by the ADGP for Crime of the Tamilnadu Police, Mr. O.S.George were sent to Kudankulam. This meant 6000 armed police men, 3 DIGs and 20 SPs were in Kudankulam. The TV reports, when they were still possible, showed police violence and extensive police presence in the village. We also saw women from Kudankulam, the backbone of the movement, declaring that there will be a strong people’s response to this violence and that they cannot be taken peaceful protest cannot be taken for granted. The first project taken up by the police seems to have bee to block off the village from any outsiders. Nearby villagers who tried to approach the villages by sea were also arrested by the police. As of now, all roads to the village have been blocked. Communication systems have been tampered with. Continue reading Kudankulam: A brief history and a recent update→
Steel drums with nuclear waste. The inescapable byproduct generated from the fission of nuclear fuel in the form of uranium or plutonium creates what is called nuclear waste. This waste comes in a huge variety of extremely radioactive material with half-lives ranging from 8 days to hundreds of thousands of years. In other words their radioactivity takes a really, really long time to decay, thousands of times our human life-times. These fission products if released to the environment will last a long time, and it is almost impossible to decontaminate them.
NITYANAND JAYARAMAN and G. SUNDAR RAJAN of the Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle developed the fact-sheet below in response to real questions that they encountered during the course of street and college campaigns. They say: “The questions were sincere, so we felt a sincere response was warranted.”
Respected Prime Minister of India, and Chief Minister of Tamilnadu:
We are residents and organisations from Japan, and are intimately aware of the unpredictability and uncontrollable nature of nuclear power. We are the unfortunate witnesses of two nuclear holocausts. It is with pain that we see the Indian Government pursuing a dangerous path of constructing large nuclear power plants within even larger nuclear “parks” where power generation capacities are pegged at up to 10,000 MW.
पिछले सप्ताह जापान में सुनामी के साथ आए भूकंप ने समूची दुनिया को दहला कर रख दिया है. इस विभीषिका से होने वाले नुक़सानों का वास्तविक आकलन, एड़ी चोटी के प्रयासों के बावजूद, अभी तक नहीं हो पाया है. सब कुछ धरती के नीचे दफ़्न हो जाने की सैकड़ों ख़बरें अभी तक आ रही हैं. रही सही कसर परमाणु संयंत्रों में विस्फ़ोट के बाद विकिरण के ख़तरे ने पूरी कर दी है जिसके असर कई कई सालों और पीढ़ियों तक मारक होते हैं.
जापान के प्रधानमंत्री नाओतो कान के बयान कि ’दूसरे विश्वयुद्ध के बाद यह उनके देश में सबसे भयानक तबाही है, और कुछ मायनों में उससे भी ज़्यादा विनाशकारी’, के कई पहलू हैं. इसे प्राकृतिक आपदा में नष्ट हो चुके एक देश द्वारा महज वैश्विक मानवीय सहायता और सहानुभूति की अपील की तरह देखना पर्याप्त नहीं होगा. प्रधानमंत्री का बयान परमाणु ऊर्जा के ख़तरनाक पहलुओं की भी एक स्वीकारोक्ति है. मानवतावादी संकटों से निपटना निश्चित ही एक अहम और तात्कालिक चुनौती है. लेकिन परमाणु संयंत्रों में विस्फ़ोट और विकिरण के जो खतरे पैदा हो रहे हैं उनसे निपटना आने वाले दिनों में बेहद कठिन होगा. साथ ही, ऊर्जा के लिए परमाणु ईंधन को प्रोत्साहन देने वाले अन्य देशों की योजनाओं के लिए इससे कई महत्वपूर्ण सबक़ मिले हैं. Continue reading हिरोशिमा से फ़ुकुशिमा: अनिल मिश्र→
Excerpts from an article by Daniel Tanuro, an eco-socialist environmentalist
What has happened is entirely predictable: yet another major nuclear “accident”. At the time of writing, it is not yet certain that it will take on the dimensions of a disaster similar to Chernobyl, but that is the direction in which things, alas, look set to evolve. But whether it develops into a major disaster or not, we are once again faced with evidence that the technology can never be 100% secure. The risks are so frightening that the conclusion is obvious: it is imperative to abandon nuclear energy, and to do so as quickly as possible. This is the first lesson of Fukushima, one which raises absolutely fundamental social and political questions, requiring a real debate throughout society about an alternative to the capitalist model of infinite growth…
Excerpts from a recent article by Praful Bidwai, journalist, social science researcher and activist on issues of human rights, the environment, global justice and peace.
The crisis holds a number of lessons for India as it embarks on a massive nuclear power expansion programme, which will double and then further triple India’s nuclear power capacity.
First, nuclear power generation is inherently hazardous. It is the only form of energy production that can lead to a catastrophic accident with long-time health damage and environmental contamination. Human error or a natural calamity can trigger a catastrophe—but only because reactors are themselves vulnerable.
Reactors are high-pressure high-temperature systems in which a high-energy fission chain-reaction is only just controlled. Nuclear reactors are both systemically complex, and internally, tightly coupled. A fault or malfunction in one sub-system gets quickly transmitted to others and gets magnified till the whole system goes into crisis mode.