The government of India is embracing nuclear energy in a big way. Pasted below is a pamphlet against nuclear energy. In an attempt to build a broad front of all activist groups and NGOs so as to build a powerful movement against nuclear energy, which will devastate not just the lives of those living near nuclear plants and uranium mines, but will also destroy the lives of our coming generations for thousands of years, various groups came together to organise a seminar at Kanyakumari in June this year, and issued a Kanyakumari declaration and also formed a National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movements. In continuation of this, it has been decided to organise a rally at Delhi on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti, near Rajghat.
This is to invite all concerned to join us in participating in this rally. Apart from the pamphlet pasted below, a proposed concept note for the Delhi rally, and the Kanyakumari declaration are attached.
Nuclear power is dirty and dangerous!!
The government of India is embracing nuclear power in a big way. It is planning a quantum jump in nuclear power generation, from 4120 MW at present to 63,000 MW by 2032. As a part of this expansion program, the nuclear power plant (NPP) coming up at Kudankulam (Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu) is proposed to be expanded to eight units of 1000 MW each from the two at present. The process for setting up a NPP at Madban (near Jaitapur, Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra) has reached an advanced stage. Land acquisition notices have been served on the local people. The French company Areva is to supply two new generation 1650 MW reactors for this nuclear plant. � The order could go up to six such units in the future. It is also proposed to set up four massive nuclear power parks, including one each in the coastal areas of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Six to eight reactors, of 1,000-1,650 MW, will be installed at each nuclear park. Similarly, uranium mining is also being expanded. It is proposed to begin uranium mining at Gogi (near Gulbarga) in Karnataka, and at Domiasiat in West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya.
Proclaiming the need for ushering in a 'nuclear renaissance', the Prime Minister has stated that to meet India's growth needs, the country needs huge amounts of energy; since the proven reserves of coal, oil, gas and hydropower were limited, India's energy needs could be met through nuclear power - which was affordable "not only in terms of its financial cost but also in terms of the cost to our environment.
From India to the US, politicians and intellectuals are blithely lying about nuclear energy. They believe that if you lie frequently and with conviction, people will believe you.
NUCLEAR ENERGY IS DEATHLY
Nuclear energy is generated in a nuclear reactor when nuclear fuel (uranium 235) kept in the reactor core is split up, releasing huge amounts of heat. This heat is used to produce steam, which in turn is used to drive a turbine to generate electricity.
During this fission process, more than 200 types of highly radioactive elements are created, which did not exist till the uranium atom was fissioned by man. The resulting uranium fuel in the reactor core is intensely radioactive: a 1000 MW nuclear power plant contains an amount of long-lived radiation equivalent to that released by 1000 Hiroshima bombs!
Many of these radioactive elements will continue to emit radiation for thousands of years. Impact of this radiation on the human body is deathly. It mutates the genes in the cells, causing cancer; it also mutates the reproductive genes, causing all kinds of diseases and birth deformities in future generations.
What if an accident in the nuclear reactor releases these deadly radioactive elements into the environment? It happened in Chernobyl, in northern Ukraine.
Chernobyl: On April 26, 1986, Unit Four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. Almost all the deadly radioactive fission products in the reactor core were spewed into the environment. It's consequences have been horrendous. ● More than 100,000 square miles around Chernobyl – an area slightly less than the size of Maharashtra – is heavily contaminated, and will remain so for thousands of years. Tens of thousands have died from radiation induced diseases. The seven million still alive and living in this region know that they are forever contaminated, that they could develop cancer anytime, that their children and grand children and great grand children could be born with severe birth defects. ● Radiation released into the atmosphere has contaminated almost all countries in the Northern Hemisphere. Food in many parts of Europe will continue to be radioactive for hundreds of years. Sharp rise in cancer has been recorded in countries as far away as Sweden and France.
Chernobyl can happen again. And so, many countries in Western Europe have stopped building nuclear power plants. Tragically, many other countries, including China, East Asia and India, are continuing to set up new plants. There are 438 nuclear power plants located in 33 countries around the world. Sooner or later, a similar accidental meltdown is bound to happen in one of them. Indeed, there have been numerous accidents after Chernobyl with potentially disastrous consequences, like the one at Paks nuclear plant in Hungary in 2003: its only sheer fortune that another Chernobyl has not happened. India's nuclear power plants are amongst the most rickety in the world! While the government of India maintains complete silence on accidents at its nuclear power plants, according to experts at least 300 accidents, including at least four of serious nature, have so far taken place, causing radiation leaks and physical damages to workers and nearby residents!! Some of these, like the accident at Narora in UP in 1993, nearly caused a Chernobyl like meltdown.
Even if the nuclear power plants are operating normally, at each stage of the huge complex process involved in generating electricity from Uranium, called the nuclear fuel cycle, enormous amount of radiation routinely leaks into the atmosphere. Miners in the uranium mines are exposed to high levels of radiation; a very large number of them die of cancer. The thousands of tons of radioactive waste from the ore is left in the open near the mines, to pollute the air, soil and water, affecting millions living near the mines. At the nuclear power plant, highly radioactive gases are regularly released into the atmosphere, and the extremely radioactive cooling water is routinely released into nearby rivers, lakes and seas. Thus, even without an accident, the deadly concoction of radioactive elements created in the fission reaction find their way into the atmosphere and ultimately into the food chain and the human body!
An even more monstrous problem is the problem of waste disposal. Each 1000 MW nuclear power plant generates 30 tons of extremely potent radioactive waste annually. There is no way known to safely dispose this deadly material, which remains radioactive for tens of thousands of years. At present this waste is stored near the reactors in huge cooling pools. Were an accident to happen in one of these fuel pools, it would make Chernobyl look benign!
These are the reasons for the massive public opposition to nuclear power in the US. No new nuclear power plants have been set up in the US since 1973.
Yet the Indian government is proposing to construct massive nuclear power plants, amongst the biggest in the world. If an accident were to happen at Madban, in the minimum entire Western Maharashtra, including Pune, would be contaminated; and if it happens at Kudankulam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu would have to be evacuated! Are we going to allow this?
IS NUCLEAR ENERGY CHEAP?
The Prime Minister of India is claiming that nuclear power is cheap. When his own government's figures, on paper, show that nuclear energy is twice as costly as electricity from coal and gas! Its actual cost is much more than this. Because the government enormously subsidises it, to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees. These include most research costs and costs associated with transporting and storing the radioactive waste. Also not considered are the health and environmental costs associated with the routine radiation releases at each stage of the nuclear cycle – the government of India does not even admit to these problems. Finally, it is the government which will bear all liabilities in case of a major accident, even in the case of the new imported NPPs – these costs are so huge that no insurance company is willing to insure a NPP.
IS NUCLEAR POWER CARBON EMISSION FREE?
While it is true that no CO2 is released in the nuclear reactor, the entire nuclear cycle from uranium mining to construction of the reactor to waste storage produces an enormous amount of greenhouse gases. And if the uranium is low grade, as most uranium ores are, then the CO2 emitted goes up even more!
The argument that because there are limited reserves of coal and gas, so we need to go in for nuclear power in a big way, is yet another lie, because we have enormous reserves of both of these. Further, India has a huge potential of producing energy from alternate sources of energy � like wind, hydro, solar, tidal, wave, biomass; these also cause little global warming. The entire future target set by the government of India for nuclear energy is 60,000 MW. Much more than this can easily be produced from these renewable energy sources. The potential of producing energy from wind power is estimated at 45,000 MW, from small hydro power projects at 10,000 MW, from tidal power at 15,000 MW. The estimated potential of meeting rural energy needs through biogas plants and urban electricity needs through production of electricity from wastes is more than 20,000 MW. The total potential of saving energy through energy conservation is estimated to be nearly 25,000 MW in the country. Finally, solar power will soon become viable, and has the potential of meeting all our additional energy needs.
There is thus not the slightest justification for building nuclear power plants. By doing so, we are threatening the very existence of life on earth.
THE REAL REASON FOR INDIA'S NUCLEAR PUSH
Why then are India's rulers indulging in this madness of constructing nuclear power plants? The real reason: to provide US and European corporations and big Indian corporations yet another opportunity to make huge profits. Ever since 1991, when the government began the globalization of the Indian economy and opened up the economy to foreign corporations, successive Indian governments have been nakedly pandering to the interests of� foreign and Indian big business houses. As nuclear power is socially unacceptable due to radiation risks, and is also not economically viable, no new plant has been commissioned in USA and most West European countries during the last 30 years. Therefore, the US and European companies in nuclear power plant equipment and nuclear fuel business are looking to Asia, especially China and India, for markets. And so their collaborator Manmohan Singh government has decided to promote nuclear energy in India. This is expected to provide these corporations a $100 billion business opportunity. Simultaneously, India's big business houses, including the Tatas and Reliance, have also begun preparations for investing in this sector. India's rulers have sold their souls to the devil for a price that would have shamed Faust!
Let us ask you a simple question. Are you going to remain quiet if a nuclear power plant or a uranium mine was going to be set up near your house? No, isn't it. Then why at Kudankulam, or Jaitapur, or Meghalaya? The people living there are also human beings, just like us. Why should they suffer cancer, and their children terrible disease and painful deaths, just to light up our homes?
India's nuclear program has been and continues to be vigorously resisted by the people of this country. Peoples' struggles in Kothamangalam (1984) and Peringome (1991), both in Kerala, forced the government to cancel construction of nuclear power stations there. Similarly, huge public protests by the people of Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh stopped a proposed nuclear power plant in 1988 and has stalled a proposed Uranium mining project since 2003. The people of Kudankulam, Jaitapur, Bhavnagar, Meghalaya and Jadugoda are waging heroic struggles against uranium mining and nuclear power plants. People of India, let us join these struggles. Young and old, students and teachers, working people, all of us must join this campaign to demand a complete stop to uranium mining and construction of all new nuclear power plants in the country. It is actually a part of the bigger global campaign for a nuclear free world.
We must demand of the government of India: Do not open new uranium mines and stop construction of new nuclear power plants. Provide compensation and health facilities to people suffering from radiation caused by nuclear establishments immediately. Invest massively in energy saving and development of renewable technologies.
National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movements
-- Neeraj Jain
note sent on behalf of Lokayat, an activist group based in Pune, and which is a part of the National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movements.
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