Safety concerns of new nuclear power plants: There have been some apprehensions among some groups or section of people regarding safety of Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs). The concerns are adequately addressed by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), adopting a multi-pronged approach through an on-going exhaustive public awareness programme to allay the fears and apprehensions of the public.
The Government has entrusted the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) with the responsibility of safety in the Nuclear Power Plants in India. Nuclear safety and security aspects are reviewed by AERB before giving clearance for various stages of the construction, commissioning and operation of NPPs from siting onwards. AERB has specified safety and security requirements for NPPs in its Codes and Guides, which are in line with international standards.
AERB has a rigorous process for reviewing Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Security aspects of nuclear power projects through multi-tier reviews and periodic regulatory inspections, to ensure adherence to the regulatory requirements.
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh recently allayed fears about health hazards from nuclear plants. Speaking at the National Symposium on “Public Education on Radiation Safety” as chief guest after releasing a book on “Radiation Safety Management”, Singh stressed upon the urgent need to start a country wide awareness campaign to educate the public about the enormous peaceful benefits of nuclear energy and to clear the air about the apprehensions which sometimes come in the way of setting up of new atomic and nuclear plants under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
The minister said that the work for setting up of some of the new nuclear plants sometimes gets delayed because of apprehensions among the local population, but the DAE with the help of voluntary and civil society groups is constantly trying to clear such apprehensions. To effectively carry forward an awareness campaign like this, the DAE solicits the support and cooperation of like-minded scientific groups, social scientists and voluntary agencies who can carry forward the message to every section of society, he added.
In today’s age and times the peaceful and constructive application of nuclear energy is widening with each passing day and nuclear energy is not only proving to be a boon in fields like medical treatment and agriculture, but is also going to be a major source of energy to meet the ever increasing demand of energy and electricity in the country.
He further pointed out that there is no evidence to suggest that even a single scientist working in any of the nuclear plants in India has suffered physical harm on account of exposure to radiation. The safeguards for the purpose are observed as per the rules, procedures and principles laid down by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) under the DAE are among the best practices in the world.
Singh recalled that over 60 years ago, Dr Homi Bhabha had started India’s nuclear programme primarily for peaceful purposes and today, we have not only vindicated Homi Bhabha’s dream, but also presented a glorious example for the rest of the world. Along with solar energy, nuclear energy is going to be one of the richest resources for India as it moves ahead to become the Asian giant of 21st century, he added.