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Peace activists in Pakistan and India warn of nuclear danger on 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident

New reports on events in Karachi and New Delhi

27 April 2011

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Daily Times, 27 April 2011

25th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy

PPC demands government to call off all nuclear programmes

KARACHI: The Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC), on Tuesday, demanded the government to immediately stall the ongoing nuclear programmes, both pertaining to arms as well as power generation as the world marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.

The Chernobyl accident in the USSR (now Ukraine) caused 64 deaths, according to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. The World Health Organisation estimates deaths potentially resulting from the accident to stand at 4,000. The explosion released about 400 times more radiation than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Hundreds of thousands were made ill and once-pristine forests and farmland of the region still remain contaminated. Nearly 25 years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, exposure to radioactive iodine from fallout continues to cause thyroid cancers that are still occurring among people who lived in the Chernobyl area at the time of the accident.

In the wake of the disastrous consequences of the recent tsunami on the nuclear power installations in Japan, leading nations of the world are already revisiting their nuclear programmes. China has already suspended approval of future nuclear power projects, including those in the preliminary stages of development. Germany has called off the plan to extend the life of the country’s ageing nuclear power stations. The Swiss government also announced a halt to its nuclear plans. The Italian and the Israel governments are considering a similar move.

The radiation leaks at the two nuclear power stations, Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini in Japan following a powerful 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast last month has put the population of Japan at great risk, while questions about the impact on the world environment of a meltdown of the core of the nuclear reactors, come under continuous debate. The Fukushima Daiichi plant radiation leaks have already forced the evacuation of some 80,000 people within 20 kilometres of the site.

The PPC demanded the government to put a stop to the ongoing nuclear programmes, while any plans of expanding the country’s current nuclear power generation capacity must be immediately called off. The nuclear contribution to current Pakistani total electricity supply is very limited, while the hazards it poses far outweigh its utility. Nuclear capacity represents merely 2.4 percent of the total installed capacity of 19,252 MW in Pakistan (recent estimates). Totally dependent on state funding due to their astronomically high cost of establishment and maintenance, there is general consensus that nuclear plants are a costlier option, deliver less electrical service per dollar compared to other sources of electricity generation. They are also described as “climate protection loser” causing worst climate effect, and in case of disaster, worst environment destruction as witnessed in Chernobyl and the Three Mile Island accidents.

The PPC criticised the relentless pursuit of nuclear capacity by the state. Pakistan currently operates two nuclear power plants, the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) and the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-1 (CHASNUPP-1). In terms of nuclear arms production, multiple reactors in the country have produced over 100 nuclear weapons so far. The safety of the current nuclear installations remain a concern, since there is very little information on security measures adopted to protect the population from any potential risk in case of striking any of the country’s plants. Nuclear facilities in Pakistan are precariously located, particularly KANUPP, that is stationed next to the coast. An earlier letter written by civil society organisation to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to demand a copy of the Karachi Emergency Relief Plan, in case of a nuclear disaster met with no response. Concerns have also been raised against the authorities’ practice of dumping uranium waste near the mines in Dera Ghazi Khan. According to reports, the incidence of leukemia is higher in the region. pr

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The News, 27 April 2011

PPC demands immediate halt to nuclear programmes

Shahid Husain

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Karachi

The Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) on Tuesday urged the government to immediately stall the ongoing nuclear programmes, both pertaining to arms as well as power generation, as the world marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.

The Chernobyl accident in the then USSR (now Ukraine) caused 64 deaths, according to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates deaths potentially resulting from the accident to stand at 4,000. The explosion released about 400 times more radiation than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Hundreds of thousands fell ill and once-pristine forest and farmland of the region still remain contaminated. Nearly 25 years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, exposure to radioactive iodine from fallout continues to cause thyroid cancers that are still occurring among the people who lived in the Chernobyl area at the time of the accident.

In the wake of the disastrous consequences of the recent tsunami on the nuclear power installations in Japan, leading nations of the world are already revisiting their nuclear programmes. China has already suspended approval of future nuclear power projects, including those in the preliminary stages of development. Germany has called off the plan to extend the life of the country’s ageing nuclear power stations. The Swiss government also announced a halt to its nuclear plans, while the Italian and the Israel governments are considering a similar move.

The radiation leaks at the two nuclear power stations, Fukushima-Daiichi and Fukushima-Daini in Japan, following a powerful 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast last month had put the population of Japan at great risk, while questions about the impact on the world environment of a meltdown of the core of the nuclear reactors come under continuous debate. The Fukushima Daiichi plant radiation leaks have already forced the evacuation of some 80,000 people within 20kms of the site.

The PPC urged the government to put a stop to the ongoing nuclear programmes, while any plans of expanding the country’s current nuclear power generation capacity must be immediately called off. The nuclear contribution to current total electricity supply in Pakistan is very limited, while the hazards it poses far outweigh its utility. Nuclear capacity represents merely 2.4 per cent of the total installed capacity of 19,252 MW in Pakistan (recent estimates). Totally dependent on state funding due to their astronomically high cost of establishment and maintenance, there is general consensus that nuclear plants are a costlier option, deliver less electrical service per dollar compared to other sources of electricity generation. They are also described as “climate protection loser”, causing worst climate effect, and in case of disaster, they cause worst environment destruction as witnessed in Chernobyl and the Three Mile Island accidents.

The PPC criticised the relentless pursuit of nuclear capacity by the state. Pakistan currently operates two nuclear power plants – the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) and the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-1 (CHASNUPP-1).

In terms of nuclear arms production, multiple reactors in the country have so far produced over 100 nuclear weapons. The safety of the current nuclear installations remain a concern, since there is very little information on security measures adopted to protect the population from any potential risk in case of striking any of the country’s plants.

Nuclear facilities in Pakistan are precariously located, particularly the KANUPP, which is stationed next to the coast. An earlier letter written by civil society organisation to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to demand a copy of the Karachi Emergency Relief Plan in case of a nuclear disaster met with no response. Concerns have also been raised against the authorities’ practice of dumping uranium waste near the mines in Dera Ghazi Khan.

According to reports, the incidence of leukemia is higher in the region.

In the wake of the unprecedented crisis in Japan and the resultant threat to human life, water bodies and the eco systems, and considering the response of the developed countries to re-think the direction of their nuclear policy, the government has a responsibility to protect its citizens and calling off nuclear ambitions is the first step in the direction.

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The Hindu, 27 April 2011

Nuclear energy is not cheap and safe

Staff Reporter

Say experts on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster

‘Jaitapur project is a threat to rich biodiversity’

‘No provisions for dealing with nuclear waste’

NEW DELHI: The Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters and the effect they have had on vast numbers should be enough to sound a note of caution against use of nuclear energy in India, said members of a coalition for nuclear disarmament on Tuesday.

Speaking at the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine,
members of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) and Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) were vehement in their opposition to the Government’s policy of touting nuclear energy as “clean, cheap and safe”.

They expressed concern over the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Park and how it is a potential threat in an extremely rich biodiversity area.

“Since 1970s on an average, accidents, which affected the core of the
nuclear reactors, have occurred once every eight years. Despite accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima, the Indian Government countered the threat posed by nuclear reactors by claiming that Indian reactors will not come up in seismic zones and there are no dangers like tsunamis,” said Prof. Achin Vanaik, Professor of International Relations and Global Politics in the
Delhi University.

He blamed the government for failing to separate the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) despite repeated requests to do so. “Big nuclear markets are all in Asia and these include India, Indonesia, South Korea, China and Taiwan. And we have at least six major reasons to move away from it…” he said.

Citing his concerns he said it is a “myth” that nuclear energy is safe,
clean and economic. He said it is also not true that nuclear energy will
help promote energy development. “It is too late, it is not the way forward, and it is too secretive and too centralised. The energy is much more expensive than what is generated from renewables, and most importantly what about the costs that will come in case of possible accidents.”

Pointing out that nuclear energy is “too dangerous”, Prof. Vanaik said there
are no provisions for dealing with the nuclear waste and the threat to the
nuclear establishments from state as well as non-state actors.

Senior journalist Praful Bidwai drew attention to the fatalities that the
Chernobyl accident resulted in and the wide ranging after effects of the
radiations that people continue to face. “Conservative estimates put the
number of people affected by cancer between 34,000 to 1,40,000 and the
fatalities between 16,000 and 73,000. Even on the low estimate, Chernobyl is easily the world’s worst-ever industrial accident. And what Chernobyl showed was that all types of reactors are vulnerable to loss of coolant accidents. Can the world afford to have two Chernobyls and two Fukushimas once every seven years?” he questioned.

“Nuclear industries have always hidden the truth and told lies. In Fukushima the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) suppressed news of radioactive leaks, the doctored videos and showed minimum damage. And in India IAEA acts as a lobbyist for the global industry,” Mr. Bidwai said.

He also expressed concern about the proposed reactors being built by AREVA, a French company. “There are serious and genuine concerns about the safety of Areva’s European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) design. Nowhere in the world has an EPR been fully built or commissioned so far. Two EPRs are already beset by serious safety and financial problems and delays.”

Rohan Dsouza from Centre for Studies in Science Policy, JNU, questioned the country’s disaster preparedness and the rights of the citizens in deciding whether they should be forced to stay close to a nuclear reactor.

“In the event of the unthinkable, do we have a disaster preparedness plan? Is there is method of evaluating how thousands of people will be moved to a safe distance in short time. In Fukushima the TEPCO and Japanese Government did not know what the safe limit was,” he said.

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