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.