An environment ministry committee has declined coastal clearance for new nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, on the grounds of its impact on marine life and overall safety aspects.
Coastal clearance is mandatory to operationalise environment clearances granted to four new reactors for generating 4,000 MW of power, in addition to existing two at Kudankulam in 2008 and 2009.
The environment clearance, however, allows the government to start the process of acquiring land for the project, but it got stuck in Kudankulam following protest by locals. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to intervene last week with an assurance that the plant will have best safety features.
The project proponent Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) told ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) recently that the plant has most “advanced safety features” and first of its kind in the world.
“Active safety systems are having a backup of passive safety systems,” the minutes of the EAC meeting quotes the corporation as claiming.
The committee was, however, not impressed with what the NPCIL said and sought documentary evidence for the same while declining to approve the project. “The documentary evidence shall be submitted in support of this statement, which has a wider ramification in the context of what is happening around the world on similar developments,” the EAC told NPCIL.
In another setback, the EAC rejected NPCIL’s proposal to construct an open channel for outfall of waste water taken from sea for the purpose of cooling the nuclear condensers.
The corporation had proposed that 12,000 cubic metres of water will be lifted from Indian Ocean for condenser cooling and discharged back into the sea. “Due to various environmental problems, including adverse impact on marine life, the present proposal is not acceptable,” the EAC said, while asking the corporation to consider a pipeline for disposal.