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DMK urges PM Modi to cancel clearance granted to store spent nuclear fuel at Kudankulam

In a detailed letter, senior Lok Sabha member TR Baalu said storing of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) at the nuclear plant site will be an utmost hazard to the people and environment

Published: 07th October 2021 01:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th October 2021 01:56 PM   |  A+A-

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (File | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The DMK on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board be instructed to cancel the 'siting' clearance granted to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to construct Away From Reactor (AFR) spent fuel storage facility for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant's Units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

In a detailed letter, senior Lok Sabha member TR Baalu said storing of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) at the nuclear plant site will be an utmost hazard to the people and environment.

The Supreme Court, while disposing of the civil appeal filed by environmental activist G Sundarrajan against the KKNPP, also observed, "Storing of SNF at nuclear plant site site will, in the long run, pose a dangerous, long term health and environmental risk. NPCIL and the Union of India are bound to look at the probabilities of potentially harmful events and the consequences in future. Noticeably, NPCIL does not seem to have a long term plan, other than stating and hoping that in the near future, it would establish a Deep Geological Repository (DGR)."  

The Atomic Energy Act, especially Section 17, envisages present and future safety of nuclear power plants and the lives and environment around.

The Supreme Court said the DGR has to be set up at the earliest so that SNF could be transported there from the nuclear plant. NPCIL says the same would be done within a period of five years. In 2013, directions were given to concerned authorities for taking effective steps to have a permanent DGR at the earliest so that apprehensions voiced by the people over keeping the NSF at the site of the Kudankulam plant could be dispelled.

Baalu said even after passage of several years, the Union government is yet to evolve a plan for the DGR. "The Supreme Court has categorically said that the SNF should not be permanently stored within the Kudankulam nuclear plant site. Therefore, the consent of AERB to establish AFR facility for storing SNF at the Kudankulam site is in violation of the Supreme Court’s directions," he said.

Originally, it was agreed that the spent nuclear fuel would be transported back to Russia. Hence, in the initial stage, storing SNF was not considered. It is now understood that Russia will not take back the SNF as it had faced a multitude of problems in handling it in its own territory.

A high-level expert committee set up by the Japanese 'Diet' that went into the sequence of events in Fukushima came to the conclusion that "long term storage of SNF in the Fukushima premises has largely aggravated the Fukushima accident". Many studies in the US and other countries have brought out the dangers in storing SNF inside the premises, said Baalu.

Considering the dangers involved, Baalu requested the Prime Minister to impress upon Russia to take the SNF to their facility for storage, while withdrawing the clearance given immediately. He said setting up of a DGR should be built expeditiously in an uninhabitated area and the project should be a national priority.



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