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,

Atul ChokshiProfessorMaterials Engg.IIScBangalore
Subodh KumarProfessorMaterials Engg.IIScBangalore
Debasis SenguptaProfessorOceanographyIIScBangalore
Bikramjit BasuAssoc. ProfessorMaterials Science & EnggIIScBangalore
Venu Madhav GovinduAsst. ProfessorElectrical enggIIScBangalore
Siddhartha P. SarmaAssoc. ProfessorMolecular biophysicsIIScBangalore
Vidyanand NanjundiahProfessorEcological sciencesIIScBangalore
Sanjit ChaterjeeAsst. ProfessorComputer sci. & automationIIScBangalore
K.S. GandhiProfessorChemical enggIIScBangalore
A.G. MenonProfessorEarth sciencesIIScBangalore
Bhanu Pratap DasSenior ProfessorAstrophysicsIIABangalore
Vandana ShivaEnvironmentalsit/PhysicistNavadanyaNew Delhi
Sushma V. MallikAssoc. ProfessorAstrophysicsIIABangalore
C.V. MallikProfessor (ret’d)AstrophysicsIIABangalore
Rohini BalakrishnanAssoc. ProfessorEcological sciencesIIScBangalore
Mahua Gharepost-docEcological sciencesCentre for Pollination StudiesKolkata
Ravi Sankar KottadaAsst. ProfessorIMaterials Engg.IITMChennai
Partho Sarothi RayAsst. ProfessorPhsyicsIISERKolkata
Shiv SethiAssoc. ProfessorAstrophysicsRRIBangalore
Meher EngineerProfessor/ex-directorBose InstituteKolkata
K.S. JagadishProfessor (ret’d)Civil enggIIScBangalore
Supratik ChakrabortyProfessorIITBMumbai
Deepak D’SouzaAssoc. ProfessorIIScBangalore
MJNV PrasadAsst. ProfessorMaterials Engg.IITBMumbai
Kartik ShankerAssoc. ProfessorEcological sciencesIIScBangalore
Dibyendu ChakravartyScientist DMaterials Engg.ARCIHyderabad
T.A. AbinandananProfessorMaterials Engg.IIScBangalore
K.V.S. HariProfessorElec & comm enggIIScBangalore
C.P. RajendranVisiting ProfessorEarth sciencesIIScBangalore
Arijit BishnuAssoc. ProfessorISIKolkata
Renee BorgesProfessor & ChairpersonEcological sciencesIIScBangalore
Lakshmi SaripalliAstrophysicistRRIBangalore
Vijay ChandruChairman and CEOManagement/Comp sci. & automationStrandBangalore
Sumati SuryaAssoc. ProfessorPhysicsRRIBangalore
Sachindeo VaidyaAssoc. ProfessorPhysicsIIScBangalore
Procheta MalliknonePhysicsnoneBangalore
Sushama YermalInstructorBiologistIIScBangalore
Palash B. PalProfessorAstrophysicsSaha Inst.Kolkata
M.S. BobjiAssoc. ProfessorMechanical EnggIIScBangalore
Gopal KrishnaNASI platinum Jubilee Senior ScientistAstrophysicsTIFR (retired)/IUCAAPune
Harish BhattProfessorAstrophysicsIIABangalore
Arati ChokshinoneAstrophysicsnoneBangalore
Vinod JohnAsst. ProfessorIIScBangalore
Dileep JatkarProfessorHCRIAllahabad
Anshuman MaharanaReaderHCRIAllahabad
Naresh DadhichProfessorIUCAAPune
Vikram VyasProfessorShiv Nadir UnivUP
Krsihnendu SenguptaProfessorIACSKolkata
Suvrat RajuReaderPhysicsTIFRBangalore
Abhishek DharProfessorTIFRBangalore
R.I. Kaveripost-docEcological sciencesIIScBangalore
Ashok PatiProfessorAstrophysicsIIABangalore
Joseph SamuelProfessorPhysicsRRIBangalore
Carol UpadhyayaProfessorSocial sciencesNIASBangalore
Madan RaoProfessorPhsyicsRRIBangalore
Sujay Basuex-Professor/directorEnergyJadavpur Univ/Centre of Energy and Environment ManagementKolkata
Prajwal ShastriAstrophysicsIIABangalore
Anjula GurtooAssoc. ProfessorManagement/Comp sci. & automationIIScBangalore
Sudhir VombatkereMajor General (ret’d)Civil enggnoneMysore


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