June 19, 2013
The Kudankulam nuclear plant which is set to begin
production in the coming weeks has caused the government great concerns over
dangers posed to Northern Sri Lanka in case of a nuclear accident. Sri Lankan
authorities have stated that they may seek the intervention of the International
Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) whereas Indian authorities claim that there is
no cause for concern.
The government of Sri Lanka says it proposed India to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on nuclear disaster management.
The proposal was made considering dangers posed by India’s nuclear plants close to Mannar and northern Sri Lanka, Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka told foreign media.
“If there is a nuclear accident that causes radiation to escape in Kudankulam nuclear power plant or any other nuclear plant, that may affect Mannar and north,” he said.
Kudankulam nuclear plant is situated in a close proximity to Mannar bay and in the event of a nuclear disaster there is fear that northern parts of Sri Lanka may affect.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jeyaram Jayalalitha gave the go-ahead to the plant and declared that the plant which was started in 1987 will finally start production.
She managed to overcome the massive protest led by SP Udayakumar, a veteran anti-nuclear activist who campaigned against the Kudankulam nuclear plant.
According to S.P. Udayakumar, he gave up after government agreed to implement a disaster management programme and train people within thirty kilometres of the power plant to protect them in the event of a nuclear disaster.
However, the minister says that it is the duty of the Indian government to ‘discuss issues surrounding nuclear energy with neighbouring Sri Lanka’ prior to commissioning power plants.
Professor Rohini Hewamanna of Nuclear Science Department – University of Colombo believes that people are scared of nuclear power because they are not fully educated about the subject.
“If we are running out of alternative energy sources we may have to consider nuclear energy and therefore it is important to educate the people and promote nuclear science as a discipline” she said, BBC reported.
Sri Lanka has not brought up the issue of the safety of Kudankulam
Nuclear Power Plant against India’s voting at the 19th session of the UNHRC,
the Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka said today refuting recent reports in
The Sri Lankan Government has neither opposed nor registered their protest for any Nuclear Power Plant on Indian soil, Chairman of Atomic Energy Authority Dr. R.L. Wijayawardana said in a statement.
Pointing out that both Sri Lanka and India are members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is committed for using nuclear technology for the benefit of the society, he said, Sri Lanka fully understands the need of utilizing nuclear energy for electricity generation.
“India has every right to use nuclear technology in meeting the requirements of electrical energy,” he added.
Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority has a mandate to protect people and the environment of Sri Lanka from unwanted effects of ionizing radiation. It is the responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka through the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority to plan a Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program, Dr. Wijayawardana said.
“Such a program was drafted with the help of the Disaster Management Centre.”
“IAEA was approached by AEA to strengthen the capacity for the Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program,” he said.
Reminding that cordial discussions were held with the Indian delegation in 2010 when the Minister headed the Sri Lanka delegation to the IAEA General Conference, Dr. Wijayawardana said Minister Ranawaka had in fact visited the Kudankulam power plant with the Indian Atomic Energy Commission Chairman.
“Therefore, the statement made to give the impression that Sri Lanka is protesting to Kudankulam NPP is baseless and malicious,” he said.
Seeking to allay Sri Lankan fears on the Kudankulam
nuclear plant in case of an accident, India said there was no need to worry as
it has high safety standards and a legal mechanism to take care of
trans-boundary liability issues.
“Sri Lanka has no reason to worry. The safety features of Kudankulam are of high standards, which have been cleared and verified by several independent groups,” Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee said here.
He pointed out that Parliament has passed a law that takes care of trans-boundary issues in case of nuclear accidents.
Parliament has passed the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill in 2010, Banerjee said. India has also signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) that also has elements to take care of trans-boundary issues, he said. India is yet to ratify the CSC.
M Karunanidhi has attacked Sri Lanka for suggesting that it is at risk from India’s nuclear plant located in the South.
“The Kudankulam plant did not start yesterday, been there for a long time. If Lanka raises doubts now it is unacceptable,” said Mr Karunanidhi, who heads the main opposition party, the DMK, in Tamil Nadu.
The nuclear project at Kudankulam in coastal Tamil Nadu, will upon completion, be India’s largest atomic power plant. Phase 1 will see two nuclear reactors generating electricity within the next few months.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka and India are now reportedly ready for a memorandum of understanding regarding the proposed Nuclear Power plant to be built in India, the AEA stated.
Dr. Ranjith Wijeyawardena stated that the MoU will be signed under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Authority according to which no threat will be posed to Sri Lanka through the proposed nuclear plant.
What in your opinion should the government do regarding this issue? Should Sri Lanka be concerned over this nuclear plant? Should India consider its neighbours with regards to this plant? Have your say.
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