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It is safe to go ahead with Jaitapur nuclear project

March 28,2011
DNA - Daily News Analysis


The DY Patil University (DYPU) of Kolhapur is associated with the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP). The department of atomic energy (DAE) and the Board of Research In Nuclear Sciences (BRNS) have awarded three projects to the varsity to carry out studies on baseline levels of radioactivity and assessment of radiation due to natural causes and fallout of radioactivity around JNPP up to a distance of 30 km from the site. The varsity’s vice chancellor and well-known physicist, Dr SH Pawar,explains to DNA why the Jaitapur project is safe notwithstanding the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan that led to meltdown in some of the nuclear power reactors of that country.   After what happened in Japan, will you still insist that it is safe to go in for nuclear energy production?  An 8.9 magnitude earthquake triggered the tsunami, which has caused devastation in parts of Japan. But it is important to note that the earthquake of such a magnitude did not damage any nuclear reactors in Japan. The explosion in the nuclear reactor was due to collapse in the coolant system caused due to power cut after water entered the reactors. There is no question of underplaying the gravity of radiation leaks in Japan.   But the fact remains that even hydro and thermal power stations would have been affected if an earthquake of such a magnitude had struck. I will still insist that nuclear power is the best option even after what happened in Japan.   Is the Jaitapur site safe for the nuclear power project?  The proposed nuclear power project in Jaitapur is about 72 feet above the sea level. In case of a tsunami striking the Maharashtra coast, I do not think the waves will reach to the level where the project has been planned. A geological survey hasalready been carried out to ensure that the site does not fall in an earthquake-prone zone. JNPP is a safe project based on state-of-the-art technology. It is absolutely safe to go ahead with the project.   How can India prepare for radiation leaks?  As the country is gradually moving towards nuclear power generation, we have to prepare our human resources to be able to handle the situations related to radiations. We will need doctors and health care staff that can treat patients exposed to radiation. At our varsity we are going to start courses on masters in environment health science and medical physics.   Being associated with the JNPP, we are training our medical students to treat patients exposed to radiation. Besides, we have set up a laboratory with survey meters and thermoluminescence dosemeters (TLDs) for detecting radiation.   Is there any latest research for controlling radiation leaks?  The US-based Radiation Shield Technologies (RST) has got the patent for Radiation Detectable and Protective Articles. This company has developed a protective material against all types of chemical, biological and radiological incidents. This material is a radiopaque nano-polymeric compound. The thin films can be prepared from such material which can block radiation. Scientists in India need to focus their research on creating such types of nanomaterial and technologies which can block radiation.

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