AEA Dy. Director contradicts his chief over K’kulam

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Though the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) chief has urged the public not to panic over India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP), Deputy Director of AEA’s Radiation Protection and Regulations Division Anuruddha Jayalath says the dangerous radioactive zones could be created in the country according to the weather patterns in case of a nuclear accident in the KKNPP.

Kudankulam is situated in the Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, 25 km North-East of Kanyakumari and 35 km from Nagercoil. It is also approximately 220 km from the western coast of Sri Lanka.

Jayalath told The Island that the some parts of the country would experience radioactive materials in case of a nuclear accident.

He said "Sri Lanka is located in the Longer-Term Protective Action Zone as we are 220 km from KKNPP and 360 km from Madras NPPs. Therefore, short-term health effects cannot be expected even if a severe accident occurred in the Kudankulam plant."

"But some parts of the country can be contaminated due to the deposition of radio-nuclides resulting in long-term health effects to the people if such fallouts are confirmed with scientific evidence," he said.

Responding to a query, Jayalath said that the KKNPP reactors were being set up without sharing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Site Evaluation Study and Safety Analysis Report with the Sri Lanka.

The AEA has already started radiological disaster management programmes and it has established early warning systems in the country, he said.

According to Jayalath, AEA has taken steps for preparedness and response to radiological and nuclear emergency. AEA is also planning to establish an environmental monitoring laboratory at somewhere near the Kalpitiya area to carry out effective sampling programme for detection of the effects of KKNPP and for mobilization of emergency personnel.

Jayalath noted that special attention should be made by the government to establish an effective radiological emergency response programme in the country as India plans to add more reactors to expand the capacity of KKNPP and others.

He stressed that an effective emergency response planning should continue for many years.

Indian activists and the local environmentalists are opposed to the nuclear power plant.

Meanwhile, The Indian Supreme Court recently made it clear to the Indian government that all safety measures for handling disaster must be put in place at KNPP before it is operationalised.

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