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New Nuclear Power Station In India Prompts Post-Fukushima Concerns

Apr 15, 2013 04:13 PM EDT

In the wake of the disaster that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan, citizens and scientists in India are concerned about the safety of a new coastal power station of their own, but the government is downplaying the worry.

The first plant at Kundankulam nuclear power station on the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent will go online by May of this year, with up to three additional plants meant to go online later this year.

"By all means, we will be able to get 2,000 mega-watts of power from Kudankulam nuclear power plant this year only and the major share will be given to Tamil Nadu as per the agreement," said Minister of State V. Narayanasamy, according to dnaindia.com. "And as far as the safety of the plant is concerned, our government addressed the issue."

But A. Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) raised questions about the quality of the materials used to build the plant, according to R.C. Camphausen in an article for Digital Journal.

"Sub-standard materials have come to the Kudankulam plant and they are causing problems," Gopalakrishnan said. "AERB officials are not responding to any queries. There are reports from Russia about the supply of substandard atomic energy equipment. This has to be investigated before they go ahead with the commissioning. Since faults may not be known for a few years, safety concerns of the people have to be cleared."

More than one million people live in the vicinity of the Kundankulam nuclear power plant, which is located in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Protests at the site are common, as are reports of protesters being struck with batons. Local fishermen are vocally opposed to the commissioning of the reactor because they reportedly fear no one will want to buy their fish.   

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