Andhra Pradesh – HRF Press Release against the proposed nuclear power plant in Kovvada

December 24, 2012

Press Release :: 20-12-2012

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) calls upon the Government of India to immediately drop the proposal to set up a nuclear power plant at Kovvada in Ranasthalam mandal of Srikakulam district. We are dismayed that the government recently issued land acquisition orders for the proposed project area (G.O 42) despite stated opposition to the nuclear plant by local people, principally farmers and fishers. The proposed plant is to have a total capacity of 9564 MW!

Nuclear power, contrary to orchestrated hype by the government and nuclear establishment is intrinsically hazardous, extremely perilous and a deadly legacy for future generations. Apart from not being a solution to the climate crisis, it is actually more expensive than power from conventional sources.

In fact, nuclear power is the most dangerous form of energy. Even during normal operations of a nuclear power plant, radioactive materials are regularly discharged into the air and water. Radiation is routinely released at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. What is more, nuclear power operations produce a radioactive legacy of waste. A solution for the long-term storage and treatment of radioactive waste has yet to be found. There is not a single safe disposal option for the highly radioactive waste produced by nuclear power stations worldwide.

These are some of the reasons why the people of Tirunelvelli and neighbouring districts of Tamil Nadu are on a sustained and passionate struggle against the Koodankulam nuclear plant. Like them, the farmers and fisherfolk of Kovvada were witness last year to the manner in which the uncontrollable nuclear meltdown in Fukushima unfolded. It made clear to the people that despite the best safeguards, all nuclear facilities are vulnerable to the risk of a catastrophic accident. Considering the complexity of the technology of a nuclear reactor, there is no way to ensure that a major accident at a nuclear power plant will never take place. And a major accident, given the nature of things, will have a devastating impact affecting a very large number of people, over a large territory and over a very long period. The history of the nuclear age is a history of accidents and Fukushima was the recent chilling illustration. It would do well to remember that Srikakulam, the district headquarters, is a mere 25 km from Kovvada and Visakhapatnam, AP’s second largest city, only 70 km from the proposed plant area.

It is because nuclear power is economically unattractive and socially unacceptable, on account of radiation hazards and risks of terrible accidents, that no order for new nuclear reactors was placed in the USA and most of West Europe during the last 30 years, since the Three Mile Island accident in the US in 1979. The US and European companies in nuclear power plant equipment and nuclear fuel business are thus looking to Asia for markets – India, China and Japan spearheading the current expansion programme. It is unfortunate that the Indian government is becoming their willing collaborator in this pursuit. India has recently decided to take a quantum leap in installed capacity for nuclear power generation, from the current level of 4,120 MW to 63,000 MW by 2032. This decision is an invitation to disaster.

Post-Fukushima, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Japan have all announced that they will move away from the nuclear option, and explore clean and sustainable forms of electricity generation. But the political and nuclear establishment in our country has not drawn the right lessons from Fukushima. They are talking about a revisit of safety systems when what is clearly needed is a fundamental review of our nuclear policy.

HRF believes that “energy security” for our nation can be achieved by increasing efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and distribution, doing away with extravagant and wasteful use of energy, pursuing a path of low-energy intensity and decentralised development and most importantly, making optimum use of alternative clean energy options. The Central Government must radically raise investment in development of sustainable and renewable energy sources and technologies, especially wind and solar energy.

Nuclear power is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. The mad rush for more and more power plants is matched by an accelerated drive for uranium mining in newer areas, mainly in Kadapa district of Andhra and in Meghalaya. And this, despite the horrible experience of uranium mines in different parts of the world, as also in our own Jaduguda in Jharkhand. HRF demands that the government put a complete halt to construction of all new nuclear power plants including Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, Koodakulam in TN and at Kovvada in Srikakulam district as well as mining for uranium. Existing nuclear plants must be decommissioned in the near future.

VS Krishna
(HRF State general secretary)

S Jeevan Kumar
(HRF State president)