Dr. Anil Kakodkar, you are a scientist. I am just a simple resident of Madban. Since you are a scientist, I hope you will be ready to answer my questions about the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. Let me ask them one by one. First, I want to ask you some questions about nuclear radiation.
1: NPCIL has recently published a booklet saying that nuclear radiation is a friend of man. Is it not true that nuclear radiation is dangerous for us, and more radiation is more dangerous? Is it not true that nuclear radiation causes cancer and that more radiation causes more number of cancers? Is it not true that nuclear radiation can cause cancer of the blood, liver, breast, pancreas, brain etc. Is it not true that nuclear radiation is especially dangerous for children in their mother’s womb? If this is true will you ask NPCIL to withdraw their booklet, and make corrections to it?
2: Is it not true that it is this nuclear radiation which makes nuclear accidents far worse than any other kind of accidents? The Bhopal accident killed thousands of people. But today people still live in Bhopal nearby the Union Carbide plant. But after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, those who had to leave the city of Pripyat can never go back. A whole city is empty. I listened to your lecture in January this year. You said in your lecture that only a few people were killed in the Chernobyl accident. The Konkan Bachao Samiti experts told us that even today in about 4000 square kilometers around Chernobyl nodescription can live due to nuclear radiation. Is that true Dr. Kakodkar? If it is why do you hide such facts in your lectures? 4000 square kilometers is half of Ratnagiri district. If Ratnagiri district has to be evacuated where will we go to live?
3: Is it true that around Chernobyl, even after 25 years, no agriculture is allowed in about 1 Lakh 25 thousand square kilometers? If this is true, why didn’t you mention this in your lecture? One and a quarter Lakh square kilometers is more than the total combined area of Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli, Pune, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Thane districts. Dr. Kakodkar, if agriculture and fruit growing are destroyed in all these districts for hundreds of years, because of an accident like Chernobyl at Madban, what will happen to our beloved Maharashtra?
4: Dr. Kakodkar, in your lecture you said that after every accident , the nuclear industry learns its lessons and that after Chernobyl many safety measures have been introduced in nuclear power plants. Why then did such a serious accident occur in four nuclear plants at Fukushima?
5: You and other experts from Department of Atomic Energy are now saying that Fukushima type of accident cannot take place at Madban because Madban plateau is high above the sea and will not be affected by tsunami. Every year Konkan railway is disrupted because of landslides and land subsiding after heavy rainfall. Our Madban plateau also already has big cracks developed after heavy rainfall. A question is there in our minds- if it is not safe to build tunnels in Konkan because of the type of our hilly rocks, is it safe to build heavy nuclear reactors on that same type of rock? What will happen if the land under a nuclear reactor starts to crack after heavy rain?
6: I have been reading about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I read that more than two Lakh people were killed due to nuclear bombs there, and out of these about one fifth, i.e. 40,000 people died because of exposure to nuclear radiation. Is this true Dr. Kakodkar?
7: Is it not true that a single modern nuclear power reactor contains more radioactivity than one thousand Hiroshima Bombs? How many Hiroshima bombs equivalent of radioactivity will be contained inside one Areva reactor when it is loaded with nuclear fuel?
8: I read that the accident at Chernobyl released radioactivity equal to around 300 Hiroshima bombs into the environment. In that same article it was mentioned that this was only 10% of the radioactivity inside the reactor. Is this true Dr. Kakodkar? The damaged Chernobyl reactor was of 1000 MW. The Jaitapur Project is 10,000 MW, i.e. ten times the size of the damaged Chernobyl reactor. Does this mean that if all six reactors are built they will contain radioactivity of 30,000 Hiroshima bombs? Is this calculation correct or wrong?
9: Is it not true that when a nuclear power reactor is in operation it keeps creating more and more deadly radioactivity? The total amount of radioactivity keeps increasing? The burned fuel rods are removed and kept for cooling in water tanks for many years. Therefore is it not true that the burned fuel storage tanks after a few years contain much more radioactivity than the radioactivity contained inside the reactors?
10: Is it not true that when the nuclear fuel inside the reactor burns it creates plutonium, the same material which was used in the Nagasaki bomb? Is it not true that therefore the burned fuel rods contain huge amounts of plutonium? Is it true that six Areva reactors after some years will produce plutonium radioactivity which is more than one Lakh Nagasaki bombs? Is it true that this entire radioactivity will be stored under water in tanks at Madban? What will happen if the tanks start leaking water?
11: Is it true that at Fukushima the water tanks storing the burnt fuel rods got damaged and the water drained out because the tanks were built at a height above ground. Is it true that till today nodescription can approach those damaged water tanks to repair the holes and the burned fuel has to be continually kept cool by spraying it with water. This water itself becomes radioactive after spraying and has to be collected and kept securely without leakage. I read that more than one Lakh tones of radioactive water has accumulated at Fukushima and some of this has leaked into the ground water spoiling the wells. Some has been dumped in the sea spoiling fishing. Fishing and agriculture are severely affected. Is this true Dr. Kakodkar? Can you tell us, in the Jaitapur project, on what floor will the water tanks be, which contain the burned fuel?
12: Can you tell me, Dr. Kakodkar, for how many years the plutonium produced in the burned fuel must be kept safe under heavy security? The Konkan Bachao Samiti experts told us that the half life of plutonium is about 25,000 years and that the plutonium must be kept safe under heavy security for more than one Lakh years. Is this correct or wrong Dr. Kakodkar? If this is correct Dr. Saheb, who will take the responsibility for the security of the plutonium enough for one Lakh Nagasaki bombs for the first 1000 years?
13: You have been saying in your lectures and NPCIL people also are telling us that “fish will not be affected by your project.” But the fisher folk of Tarapur came to our village and told us that their fishing livelihood has been destroyed as a result of the Tarapur nuclear power plant. Some of us also went to Tarapur and spoke to the fisher folk at Ghivali and …….Whom should we believe? Your experts’ predictions? or the actual experience of the fisher folk at Tarapur over the last 40 years? You are a scientist. What do you believe: The assurances of your experts, or the experience of the fisher folk? As a scientist are you willing to come with us to Tarapur and talk to the fishing community there?
14: Dr. Kakodkar, you said in your lecture that for every Indian to lead a decent life we must increase our electricity production ten fold. I have been thinking about that. I looked at my electricity bill. In our house we use around 120 units each month. We have lights, fans and a TV. My son has a computer and internet. By the grace of God, our family leads a decent life. My question to you is if every family is given 120 units per month of electricity, will we still need to increase electricity production ten fold?
15: I read in the papers that Shri Mukesh Ambani built a big house for himself and his family in Mumbai near Malabar Hill. I read that he uses about 6 Lakh units of public electricity each month in his new house. Dr. Kakodkar, how much electricity is needed to live a decent life? If some people in Mumbai need so much electricity, then why not put up your nuclear power plant on the plateau at Malabar Hill where the governor’s palace now stands? If, as you say, nuclear power is safe, clean and cheap, and we are all fools because we don’t understand what you are saying, then will it not be easier to convince all those educated people who live in Malabar Hill?
(Dr. Vivek Monteiro is a prominent social and labor-rights activist. He holds a doctorate in engineering from Harvard University and is a leading voice in the struggle against Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. this article was published in www.dianuke.org)