Letter endorsed by Indian Scientists on their concerns about the quality of components and equipment used at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

May 16, 2013

A Letter to the Chief Ministers of Tamilnadu and Kerala by Indian Scientists expressing concerns about the use of substandard components in Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant 1 & 2, and the revelation at this late stage that four valves in a critical safety system were found defective.

To: Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government of Tamil Nadu
Secretariat, Chennai 600 009;

To: Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government of Kerala
Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram 695001

Copy: Prime Minister’s Office
South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi 110011

Date: 14th of May 2013

Respected Chief Ministers:

We, the below-signed, are scientists from various disciplines who are concerned about the quality of components and equipment used at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNP) Units 1 & 2. Our concerns arise from recent media reports about the use of substandard components in KKNP 1 & 2, and the revelation at this late stage that four valves in a critical safety system were found defective.

These safety concerns are compounded by the fact that Russian authorities arrested Mr. Sergei Shutov, procurement director of Zio-Podolsk, on corruption charges for having sourced cheaper sub-standard steel for manufacturing components that were used in Russian nuclear installations in Bulgaria, Iran, China and India. This has led to several complaints of sub-standard components and follow-up investigations in Bulgaria and China. The ramifications of such corruption need to be taken very seriously as they have implications on the long-term safety of the nuclear plant.

As the Chief Minister of the states hosting and neighbouring the nuclear power plant, the two of you have a responsibility to satisfy yourself and the residents of Tamil Nadu and Kerala that the plant has been constructed to the highest safety standards. Any exercise to assure oneself of the quality of components used will have to be done before the plant is commissioned. Once commissioned, the radioactive environment in sections of the plant will make it impossible to access and test some potentially critical components.

Unfortunately, as we have seen in Fukushima, there is the danger that the impact of a major hazardous event in Koodankulam may not be localized but could spread to larger regions in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. To reduce such a risk, in the light of recent revelations, we believe that it is important to have a fresh independent and thorough quality inspection of the components used in the two reactors.

We, the below-signed, include scientists who believe that nuclear energy has a legitimate role in securing our energy future and others that believe that nuclear energy is too risky. Through this letter, we are not advocating for or against nuclear energy. All of us are of the opinion that when dealing with complex and potentially dangerous technologies transparency, honesty and a rigorous adherence to the highest quality standards are imperative. Even the Supreme Court’s recent judgment has emphasized the need to ensure the quality of components and systems before operationalising the plant.

We urge you to convey to the Prime Minister and the Department of Atomic Energy that before commissioning the reactors, they should consult independent national experts to formulate an inspection regime and carry out a full-fledged inspection into the safety of KKNP 1 & 2. Such an inspection should pay particular attention to the allegations of sub-standard equipment and components.

Signed by,

Name Designation Dept/Specialization Affiliation City
Atul Chokshi Professor Materials Engg. IISc Bangalore
Subodh Kumar Professor Materials Engg. IISc Bangalore
Debasis Sengupta Professor Oceanography IISc Bangalore
Bikramjit Basu Assoc. Professor Materials Science & Engg IISc Bangalore
Venu Madhav Govindu Asst. Professor Electrical engg IISc Bangalore
Siddhartha P. Sarma Assoc. Professor Molecular biophysics IISc Bangalore
Vidyanand Nanjundiah Professor Ecological sciences IISc Bangalore
Sanjit Chaterjee Asst. Professor Computer sci. & automation IISc Bangalore
K.S. Gandhi Professor Chemical engg IISc Bangalore
A.G. Menon Professor Earth sciences IISc Bangalore
Bhanu Pratap Das Senior Professor Astrophysics IIA Bangalore
Vandana Shiva Environmentalsit/Physicist Navadanya New Delhi
Sushma V. Mallik Assoc. Professor Astrophysics IIA Bangalore
C.V. Mallik Professor (ret’d) Astrophysics IIA Bangalore
Rohini Balakrishnan Assoc. Professor Ecological sciences IISc Bangalore
Mahua Ghare post-doc Ecological sciences Centre for Pollination Studies Kolkata
Ravi Sankar Kottada Asst. ProfessorI Materials Engg. IITM Chennai
Partho Sarothi Ray Asst. Professor Phsyics IISER Kolkata
Shiv Sethi Assoc. Professor Astrophysics RRI Bangalore
Meher Engineer Professor/ex-director Bose Institute Kolkata
K.S. Jagadish Professor (ret’d) Civil engg IISc Bangalore
Supratik Chakraborty Professor IITB Mumbai
Deepak D’Souza Assoc. Professor IISc Bangalore
MJNV Prasad Asst. Professor Materials Engg. IITB Mumbai
Kartik Shanker Assoc. Professor Ecological sciences IISc Bangalore
Dibyendu Chakravarty Scientist D Materials Engg. ARCI Hyderabad
T.A. Abinandanan Professor Materials Engg. IISc Bangalore
K.V.S. Hari Professor Elec & comm engg IISc Bangalore
C.P. Rajendran Visiting Professor Earth sciences IISc Bangalore
Arijit Bishnu Assoc. Professor ISI Kolkata
Renee Borges Professor & Chairperson Ecological sciences IISc Bangalore
Lakshmi Saripalli Astrophysicist RRI Bangalore
Vijay Chandru Chairman and CEO Management/Comp sci. & automation Strand Bangalore
Sumati Surya Assoc. Professor Physics RRI Bangalore
Sachindeo Vaidya Assoc. Professor Physics IISc Bangalore
Procheta Mallik none Physics none Bangalore
Sushama Yermal Instructor Biologist IISc Bangalore
Palash B. Pal Professor Astrophysics Saha Inst. Kolkata
M.S. Bobji Assoc. Professor Mechanical Engg IISc Bangalore
Gopal Krishna NASI platinum Jubilee Senior Scientist Astrophysics TIFR (retired)/IUCAA Pune
Harish Bhatt Professor Astrophysics IIA Bangalore
Arati Chokshi none Astrophysics none Bangalore
Vinod John Asst. Professor IISc Bangalore
Dileep Jatkar Professor HCRI Allahabad
Anshuman Maharana Reader HCRI Allahabad
Naresh Dadhich Professor IUCAA Pune
Vikram Vyas Professor Shiv Nadir Univ UP
Krsihnendu Sengupta Professor IACS Kolkata
Suvrat Raju Reader Physics TIFR Bangalore
Abhishek Dhar Professor TIFR Bangalore
R.I. Kaveri post-doc Ecological sciences IISc Bangalore
Ashok Pati Professor Astrophysics IIA Bangalore
Joseph Samuel Professor Physics RRI Bangalore
Carol Upadhyaya Professor Social sciences NIAS Bangalore
Madan Rao Professor Phsyics RRI Bangalore
Sujay Basu ex-Professor/director Energy Jadavpur Univ/Centre of Energy and Environment Management Kolkata
Prajwal Shastri Astrophysics IIA Bangalore
Anjula Gurtoo Assoc. Professor Management/Comp sci. & automation IISc Bangalore
Sudhir Vombatkere Major General (ret’d) Civil engg none Mysore

 

Affiliations: IISc=Indian Institute of Science, RRI=Raman Research Institute; TIFR=Tata Institute of Fundamental Research; IIA = Indian Institute of Astrophysics; IISER = Indian Institute of Science Education and Research; IACS = Indian Institute for the Cultivation of Science; NIAS = National Institute of Advanced Studies; IUCAA = Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics; IITM = Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, IITB = Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; HCRI = Harish Chandra Research Institute