New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday assured the Lok Sabha that nuclear facilities in the country were “world-class” and all efforts were being made to maintain the best safety standards for both on-shore and off-shore nuclear power plants.
“Safety concerns are paramount. You have my assurance that while expanding our nuclear facilities we will not compromise on nuclear safety. This is an on-going process. Our nuclear facilities are world-class,” Singh, who also holds the Atomic Energy portfolio, told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
He said that after the recent tragedy in Fukushima, Japan where a nuclear power plant was hit during a Tsunami, he had ordered nuclear agencies like Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to re-look into the issue of safety of India’s nuclear installations.
The Prime Minister’s remarks came in response to a query from Jaswant Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) about the steps being taken for ensuring safety of the nuclear power plants in Rajasthan. The BJP leader said six nuclear plants were already active in Rawatbhatta in Rajasthan and the seventh plant was coming up. He insisted that the Fukushima tragedy was a lesson and consequences of such disasters are phenomenal.
Earlier, in reply to a question, minister of state in Prime Minister’s office (PMO) V. Narayanasamy said that the Prime Minister has asked AERB to review the safety measures and has held meetings with the departments concerned and authorities to discuss the issue. “Four committees have been formed to go into additional security measures after the Fukushima tragedy,” Narayanasamy said.
Narayanasamy said atomic power stations in coastal areas have been designed taking into account technical parameters related to earthquake, Tsunami, storm surges, wave run-up, floods and tides. “Plants are, therefore, equipped with facilities to handle such eventualities. The shore protection measures also include construction of civil structures to minimise the effect of some of these natural events,” he said.
He assured the House that the latest equipment was being used to check radiation leakage from atomic plants. “These include area radiation monitors located inside and outside the reactor and auxiliary buildings. The radiation monitoring is also done through Environmental Survey Laboratories established to monitor various radiation related parameters in air, water, soil, crops, fish and meat up to 30 km around,” Narayansamy said.
He claimed that of the nine recommendations made by a task force appointed by NPCIL for nuclear safety, six are being implemented while the other three require permission of the regulatory authority.
Those not implemented include recommendation related to automatic shutdown on sensing seismic activity and inerting of TAPS 1 and 2 containment.
Emphasising that all efforts are being made to ensure safety of the nuclear plants, Narayanasamy said even after the Tsunami that hit India in 2004, the Kalapakkam plant was shut down for only three days.