Category Archives: verzet | resistance

15,000 Abandoned Uranium Mines Protested At DC EPA Headquarters

Eurasia Review | Klee Benally | January 30, 2016


On Thursday, January 28 at 12:30 PM, representatives of Indigenous organizations from the Southwest, Northern Great Plains, and supporters called for “no nukes” in a protest addressing radioactive pollution caused by 15,000 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) posing a toxic threat in the US. The demonstration was held at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters to call for immediate clean up of these hazardous sites, protection of Indigenous sacred areas from uranium mining, and for intervention in communities where drinking water is poisoned with radioactive contamination. The groups charged that the EPA has been negligent in addressing these toxic threats that severely threaten public health, lands, and waterways.

“Native American nations of North America are the miners’ canaries for the United States trying to awaken the people of the world to the dangers of radioactive pollution”, said Charmaine White Face from the South Dakota based organization Defenders of the Black Hills.

South Dakota has 272 AUMs which are contaminating waterways such as the Cheyenne River and desecrating sacred and ceremonial sites. An estimated 169 AUMs are located within 50 miles of Mt. Rushmore where millions of tourists risk exposure to radioactive pollution each year.

Indigenous communities have been disproportionately impacted as approximately 75% of AUMs are located on federal and Tribal lands. A majority of AUMs are located in 15 western states with the potential to impact more than 50 million people.

Out of 272 AUMs in South Dakota only one, the Riley Pass Mine located on US Forest Service held lands, has been cleaned up but the process has been called inadequate and concerns were raised about the reclamation budget. “My concern is how with the balance remaining from a $179 million mine reclamation settlement, the USFS says that local affected communities will be able to use the remainder on community projects and training to replace uses of the Grand River, which flows into Missouri River. The river is destroyed through this act of radioactive genocide.” stated Harold One Feather, a member of Defenders of the Black Hills, “After discussing the $179M Tronox settlement for the Riley Pass Uranium Mine Reclamation, the US Forest Service said the affected communities can submit budgets to use up any remaining balance after mine reclamation.”

Outside of the EPA headquarters the groups chanted, “Radioactive Pollution Kills!”, “No More Churchrock Spill, No More Fukushima!”, and “Clean Nuclear is a deadly lie!” in response to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan which they state promotes nuclear energy.

From January 25-28, Clean Up The Mines, Defenders of the Black Hills, Diné No Nukes, Laguna and Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment & Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, and Indigenous World Alliance, met members of congress, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, DC.

The Clean Up The Mines! campaign is focused on passing the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act that would ensure clean up of all AUMs. The act was submitted as a draft to Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D–AZ) two years ago but has yet to be introduced to Congress.

Currently, no comprehensive law, regardless of mining era, requires clean-up of all these dangerous abandoned uranium mines allowing corporations and the federal government to walk away without taking responsibility for the continuing harms they have caused.

“This is an invisible national crisis. Millions of people in the United States are being exposed as Nuclear Radiation Victims on a daily basis.” said Mrs. White Face, “Exposure to radioactive pollution has been linked to cancer, genetic defects, Navajo Neuropathy, and increases in mortality. We are protesting the EPA today because we believe that as more Americans become aware of this homegrown radioactive pollution, then something can be done to protect all peoples and the environment. In the meetings we had in DC, not only were AUMs discussed, but we also talked about radioactive pollution from coal dust, coal smoke, and in water.

These show a need for amendments to the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act,” said Mrs. White Face.

The groups addressed extreme water contamination, surface strip coal mining and power plants burning coal-laced with radioactive particles, radioactive waste from oil well drilling in the Bakken Oil Range, mill tailings, waste storage, and renewed mining threats to sacred places such as Mt. Taylor in New Mexico.

“The U.S. is violating its own Executive Orders and laws intended to protect areas sacred to Native American people on public lands by applying the General Mining Act of 1872.” Petuuche Gilbert of the Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment & President of the Indigenous World Association, “The U.S is discriminating against Indigenous peoples when it permits mining on these lands. Specifically, the U.S. is violating: Executive Order 13007, Executive 13175, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

“With adherence to out-dated, racist policies promoting colonialism, such as the 1872 mining law,Indigenous peoples across the country will continue to be oppressed, and we will continue to demand that our land be returned and restored to its original condition, to that of before the colonization by the United States,” stated Leona Morgan of Diné No Nukes. “The United Nuclear Corporation mill tailings spill of 1979, north of Churchrock, New Mexico left an immense amount of radioactive contamination that down-streamers, today, are currently receiving in their drinking water. A mostly-Navajo community in Sanders, Arizona has been exposed to twice the legal limit allowable for uranium through their tap–this is criminal!” said Morgan. Diné No Nukes is a collective focused on educating the general Navajo population about the issues created by US Atomic Energy Commission, as well as ongoing and new threats from the nuclear industry.

Tommy Rock, a member of Diné No Nukes and graduate student from the state of Arizona stated that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was extremely similar to a crisis near the Navajo Nation in Sanders, AZ. “The regulatory agencies are responding by sending the Army National Guard to provide bottle water for the community of Flint. However, the small community of Sanders which is also predominantly an Indigenous community that is off the reservation are not receiving the same response from the state regulatory agency or the state legislatures and the media,” stated Rock who worked on a recent study that uncovered levels of uranium in the drinking water system of residents and an elementary school in Sanders that violated the drinking water standard for uranium. Rock continues, “The same can be said about two Lakota reservations. They are Pine Ridge and Rock Creek, Standing Rock Reservation that have not received any assistance from regulatory agencies. This exemplifies the inconsistency among the US EPA regions about responding to Indigenous communities compared to non-Indigenous populations which are facing the same issue regarding access to safe drinking water.”

Mr. Rock called for the community of Sanders to be included in the second Navajo Nation 5-Year Clean-Up Plan and an amendment to the Clean Water Act. “Another issue around water is the mining industry is contaminating the rivers. They are disregarding the Clean Water Act because the act does not address radionuclides. This needs to be amended so the policy can enforce that companies be accountable for their degradation to the watershed areas. This can also be beneficial to US EPA because they do not have the funds to clean every contaminated river by the mining industry and other commercial industry,” stated Mr. Rock.

“These uranium mines cause radioactive contamination, and as a result all the residents in their vicinity are becoming nuclear radiation victims,” states Petuuche Gilbert, a member of the Acoma Nation, LACSE, MASE, and IWA. “New Mexico and the federal government have provided little funding for widespread clean up and only occasionally are old mines remediated. The governments of New Mexico and the United States have a duty to clean up these radioactive mines and mills and, furthermore, to perform health studies to determine the effects of radioactive poisoning. The MASE and LACSE organizations oppose new uranium mining and demand legacy uranium mines to be cleaned up,” said Mr. Gilbert.

“In 2015 the Gold King Mine spill was a wake-up call to address dangers of abandoned mines, but there are currently more than 15,000 toxic uranium mines that remain abandoned throughout the US”, said Ms. White Face. “For more than 50 years, many of these hazardous sites have been contaminating the land, air, water, and national monuments such as Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Each one of these thousands of abandoned uranium mines is a potential Gold King mine disaster with the greater added threat of radioactive pollution. For the sake of our health, air, land, & water, we can’t let that happen.”

The delegation was supported by Piscataway Nation and DC area organizations such as Nipponzan Myohoji Temple, Popular Resistance, Movement Media, La Casa, NIRS, & the Peace House.

*Klee Benally of Clean Up the Mines

France Peddles Unsafe Nuclear Reactors to India, Drawing Protest

Truthout | Kumar Sundaram | 29 January 2016


On January 26, French President François Hollande was the chief guest for India’s Republic Day ceremony, where India showcases its military hardware in a colonial-era parade in its capital. Meanwhile, in Jaitapur on India’s western coast, farmers and fisherfolk were protesting against Hollande’s visit, arguing that the nuclear reactors that India is importing from France threaten their lives, livelihoods and the local ecology.

The Joint Declaration: Localizing Risk, Siphoning Off Profit

In a joint declaration issued on January 25 in New Delhi, the two governments reaffirmed their commitment to go ahead with a long-pending nuclear deal. As per the declaration, the intense negotiations to finalize the commercial agreement are expected to conclude by the end of this year, and the construction of six European pressurized reactors (EPR) imported from France is to begin by early 2017.

The new twist in the declaration is the “maximum localization” of the project and “technology transfer” for the same. Although the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have proudly included these new terms and added a “Make in India” tag on the Jaitapur project, it actually means that the French industry would be transferring the burden of its most controversial reactor design at a time of its worst crisis.

The safety vulnerabilities of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) – the huge iron core where radioactive fission takes place – came under serious questions, raised by France’s own nuclear safety regulator Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) in April 2015. Later in 2015, Areva, the French reactor builder, had to ask the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to suspend certification review for EPR design. The United States has been postponing certification for EPR since 2007. The Finnish regulator has taken Areva to court on this issue, and Finland has canceled the order for its second EPR. Just two days after the publication of ASN’s report, Modi reaffirmed the EPR deal from France during his visit to Paris in April 2015. It is exactly this controversial component – the RPV – that an Indian private company L&T will now be building, with no experience in the nuclear sector at all.

Insurmountable Risks of the Jaitapur Nuclear Project

The current phase of negotiations on Jaitapur is about the price of reactors, which remains a major sticking point. Although the former chief of India’s Atomic Energy Commission promised a tariff of a maximum of 10 US cents per unit for the electricity produced in Jaitapur, independent experts have claimed it will be much higher (20 to 30 cents per unit). This means the government of India would use taxpayers’ money to keep the price competitive. If we go by the cost of EPRs in the United Kingdom, each Indian reactor may cost as much as $8.9 billion. Two reactors in Jaitapur’s first phase will cost as much as India’s total expenditure on science and technology (including the departments of space, science and technology, biotechnology, and research for the entire country). A diplomatic cable revealed by WikiLeaks quoted the general manager of the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL), saying that India is paying a “high” price for Jaitapur.

However, the concerns of the local community in Jaitapur go beyond the cost of the project. Jaitapur is located in the stunningly beautiful Konkan region, replete with verdant plateaus, magical mountains and undulating hills, lagoons, creeks, the open sea and infinite greenery. The NPCIL has labeled nearly 65 percent of the land as “barren,” despite the fact that Konkan is one of the world’s 10 “biodiversity hotspots,” sheltering over 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 of mammals, 508 of birds and 179 of amphibians, including 325 globally threatened species.

Altogether, the nuclear park would jeopardize the livelihoods of 40,000 people. The annual turnover of Jaitapur’s fishing villages is about $2.2 million. In Nate Village alone, there are 200 big trawlers and 250 small boats. Nearly 6,000 people depend directly on fishing and over 10,000 are dependent on ancillary activities.

The community is apprehensive that the elaborate security arrangements around the project would block the fisherfolks’ use of the two creeks of Jaitapur and Vijaydurg. The fish population will also be affected since the nuclear plant would release a massive 52 billion liters of hot water into the Arabian Sea daily, raising the local sea temperature by 5 to 7 degrees Celsius.

Jaitapur has highly fertile land, which produces rice and other cereals, and arguably the world’s most famous mango, the Alphonso. Cashews, coconuts, kokum, betel nuts, pineapples and other fruits are found in abundance. The land is also quite productive in terms of its use for cattle-grazing and rain-fed agriculture.

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for Jaitapur, conducted by the government-run National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), did not even look into the crucial aspects of radiological releases, decommissioning and nuclear waste, besides summarily neglecting the vital issues of ecosystems and livelihoods, terrestrial ecosystems and farming, mangrove forests and the fragile marine ecology and fisheries in the region. NEERI admits it does not have any expertise in radiation-related issues and it just mentioned in its report that all the stipulations of the government’s nuclear regulator would be followed. The then-minister for environment and forests, Jairam Ramesh, had himself termed these EIA assessments a joke. Even that environmental clearance, granted on 35 absurdly weak conditions, was given only for a period of five years, which lapsed as of November 2015. Citizens groups and independent experts have demanded a fresh EIA in place of an extension.

India’s nuclear regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), is itself a toothless body, which depends on the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) for its finances and human resources, an agency, which it is supposed to supervise. India’s newly proposed nuclear regulator – the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority – would be an even weaker body than the AERB, according to the former head of AERB, Dr. A K Gopalakrishnan. In fact, India is the only country to further dilute its already lax safety regulation under the AERB to accommodate foreign-imported reactors, as Areva’s EPR might not even pass the licensing procedures of the existing AERB.

Safety concerns at Jaitapur are legitimate and extremely serious. The EPR design has come under severe criticism from the French nuclear regulator, ASN. In April 2015, the ASN warned Areva about some very crucial vulnerabilities in its design. It has found the reactor pressure vessel (or the core of the reactor) to be vulnerable. Yet two days after the publication of ASN’s report, Prime Minister Modi reaffirmed the commitment to buy the EPRs during his visit to Paris.

Independent experts and the government’s own institutions have also cautioned about active seismic fault lines in the region passing exactly beneath the proposed reactor site. There have been 92 earthquakes in Jaitapur over the past 20 years.

The Indian government has managed to acquire land for the project by pressuring farmers and luring a handful of landlords. Despite land acquisition, the farmers in Jaitapur continue to resist. Most villagers either work on others’ land or provide rural services to the agrarian community and do not get any compensation when villages are dislocated for “development” projects. Tabrez Soyekar, a young fisherman, was killed in an indiscriminate police shooting in April 2011, during a peaceful protest. Hundreds of activists and eminent citizens, including the former Navy chief of India and retired justice of the Supreme Court of India, were detained during a protest march.

Thirteen village councils in Jaitapur passed unanimous resolutions against the project as recently as November 2015. It is utterly hypocritical for both countries to laud each other’s democratic credentials for international diplomacy if the democratically elected village councils are neglected violently.

A Violent Nuclear Expansion in India

India is one of the few countries today that appears to have missed the global post-Fukushima shift away from nuclear power. Even France itself, the poster child of the nuclear energy lobbies, has decided to reduce the ratio of nuclear power in its national energy basket from 75 percent to 50 percent. Independent energy experts in India, including a former top official in the Ministry of Power, have argued for a decentralized energy framework that would suit India better, as the majority of its population still lives in villages scattered across the country and transmission losses in centralized Indian grids are staggering.

The 2015 World Nuclear Industry Status Report concludes that, after the Fukushima accident, the international nuclear industry has faced its worst crisis globally. The industry is looking at India as a big market where they can compensate for their losses and revive their fortunes. India has become an attractive market for global nuclear corporations, where the government is mortgaging its financial and environmental health to welcome them. This includes channeling the accident liability to the public; undermining environmental, geological and safety laws; and ignoring the measured advice of independent experts.

Besides Jaitapur, massive and intense anti-nuclear protests have arisen in Koodankulam, Mithi Virdi and Kovvada, where Russian and US corporations are setting up nuclear power plants. Local communities in other places like Chutka, Fatehabad and Mahi Banswara have also been agitating against the nuclear projects. The government has resorted to brutal crackdowns and repression against these consistently peaceful protests. More than 8,000 people in Koodankulam are facing fabricated police cases under colonial-era sedition laws and charges of waging war against the Indian state. The police have killed, arrested and harassed villagers indiscriminately, including women and children. They surrounded the Idinthakarai village in 2012 and disrupted its vital supply lines that deliver goods, including food and milk for children and medicines, to force the village to surrender. One of the first steps that the new government under Modi took in 2015 was to come up with a “confidential” report by the Intelligence Bureau, naming Greenpeace, the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, and other anti-nuclear and environmentalist organizations “anti-national.”

India’s Nuclear Imports Are More Than Just Reactor Supply Agreements

The anachronistic nuclear expansion in India, defying economic common sense and the global shift away from nuclear energy, actually stems from the strategy that the country’s elite have adopted to achieve international legitimacy for India’s nuclear weapons.

In exchange for India’s inclusion in the global nuclear weapons club, the Indian government promised 10,000 megawatts of nuclear contracts to the United States ahead of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting in September 2008. It made similar promises to France, Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries for an exemption from the NSG rule disallowing countries that are not signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India had been facing an international embargo since 1974 for using imported technology and material for its nuclear tests.

France was the first country to sign a nuclear pact with India after the NSG’s exemption. It had been exploring nuclear sales to India for a long time. A feasibility study in Jaitapur for Areva was conducted as early as 2003. France was among the very few countries in the world that did not criticize India’s nuclear tests in 1998. But it needed the United States to do the heavy lifting in the NSG and the International Atomic Energy Agency to open the gates of international nuclear commerce for India.

Escalating Nuclear Arms Race in South Asia

The so-called “nuclear civilian deal” sets the wrong precedent for potential proliferators by diplomatically embracing India in the international nuclear order, despite being a non-signatory to the NPT and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It will also boost India’s nuclear weapons capacity by freeing up its domestic uranium reserves entirely for weapons purposes.

Nuclear weaponization in South Asia has defied the expectations of nuclear deterrence theorists that the introduction of nuclear weapons in the region would bring restraint. Soon after the nuclear tests in 1998, South Asia saw a fierce border conflict in Kargil in 2002. Declassified documents and WikiLeaks cables have revealed that Pakistan and India actually came close to contemplating nuclear use during that war. The Indian nuclear arsenal has also been growing with the introduction of nuclear submarines and long-range missiles. India has consecutively been one of the top five arms importers of the world for the last several years.

The evolving political situation in South Asia also makes peace in the region much more fragile. India is now ruled by an ultra-nationalist political formation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). BJP’s Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, contested the last elections under the slogan of teaching Pakistan a lesson and revising the two cornerstones of the Indian nuclear posture – the “no first use” policy and the minimum credible deterrence doctrine.

Modi Government’s Nuclear U-Turns and Misadventures

For its entire 10-year stint in the opposition, the BJP opposed the United Progressive Alliance’s nuclear policy, but nuclear deals have become matters of pride for Modi’s foreign sojourns. It has gone further than the previous government in placating the nuclear lobbies.

On Republic Day in 2015, to please the chief guest, US President Barack Obama, the Modi government effectively surrendered the option to sue nuclear vendors in case of an accident. Now, in 2016, with France’s help, Modi’s government seems bent on finalizing an extremely dangerous and destructive nuclear project.

Jaitapur nuclear project: three reasons it must be abandoned

Dianuke (Ideas For India) | M.V. Ramana | January 25, 2016

When French President Francois Hollande visits Delhi to attend this year’s Republic Day parade, India and France are expected to announce that they are going to enter into an agreement to import six nuclear reactors marketed by the French company Areva. These European Pressurized Reactors (EPR) are to be constructed in Jaitapur, Maharashtra on the Arabian sea. The idea of importing EPRs from France for Jaitapur was initiated during the Manmohan Singh government and has been pursued by the Narendra Modi government as well. There are at least three notable things about this project that make it dubious and not worth pursuing.

Troubled history

First, the EPR has a troubled history. No reactor of this kind is operational anywhere in the world. There are four under construction — in Finland, France, and two in China — and all of them are delayed, including the ones being built in Taishan in China. The first of these was the project at Olkiluoto, Finland, which was supposed to come online in 2009, but has been delayed because of innumerable problems. It is now projected to start operating in 2018 — if all goes well.

The case of the EPR in Flamanville, France is similar, but with a twist: last year, the French nuclear regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), announced that it had been informed by Areva of an anomaly in the composition of the steel in certain zones of the reactor vessel of the Flamanville EPR. The reactor vessel holds the hot and radioactive fuel during operations and has to withstand high temperature and pressures. Understandably problem with this reactor component is, as the president of ASN put it, “serious — even very serious”. The detection of the problem at this late stage, in the words of French energy analyst Yves Marignac, “means that either Électricité de France (EDF) or Areva overlooked the risk of this kind of problem, which would reflect badly on their competence, or they were trying to create a fait accompli before it was detected”. In any case, this discovery has led to widespread concern about the French nuclear supply system — except, evidently, within the decision-making circles in the Indian government.

Related to these lengthy delays, there has been a corresponding escalation in costs, with both Flamanville and Olkiluoto’s current estimates exceeding initial projection by a factor of three or more, from €3.2 billion to €10.5 billion in the case of Flamanville. That translates to roughly €6,500 (or US$7,000) per kilowatt (kW) of capacity. These cost and time overruns of the EPR have been attributed, at least in part, to the complexity of the design according to an official report authored by Francois Roussely, European vice-president of Credit Suisse and honorary president of EDF; this complexity, “without doubt hinders its construction and consequently impacts on its cost” according to the Roussely report. Since it is essentially the same design that will be exported to India, there will doubtlessly be problems with construction in Jaitapur as well.

Expensive electricity

The second problem with the proped project is that, if it is constructed, electricity from the reactor would be very expensive. In a paper published in the Economic and Political Weekly in 2013, physicist Suvrat Raju and I showed that if the unit cost of capacity for the Jaitapur project was assumed to be US$4,000/kW, then the initial year’s tariff for electricity from these reactors, without including transmission and distribution costs, is likely to be around Rs. 15 per unit (kilowatt hour (kWh)) of power. The methodology we adopted was exactly the same as had been used by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation to justify importing nuclear reactors from the United States although we used cost estimates derived from actual construction rather than theoretical projections. The key variable is the cost per unit capacity and our assumption of US$4,000/kW was a very charitable estimate that allowed for substantial decreases in the capital expenditures as a result of many components being manufactured within India and paying labourers and engineers much less than if the reactor had been constructed in Europe. In fact, it was as optimistic a cost decrease as the Nuclear Power Corporation of India has projected as achievable through local construction: its head has been cited as saying that one could save 25-30%, which he described as a “huge” advantage.

Since then, however, cost estimates for EPRs have increased further. Apart from the cost increases for the reactors in France and Finland, a good data point is the case of the two EPRs proposed for construction at Hinkley Point in the United Kingdom. The plant is estimated to cost up to £18 billion, of which £6 billion are to come from China General Nuclear Power Corporation and £2 billion pounds as subsidies from British tax-payers. In addition, the UK government has promised a guaranteed price of £92 per megawatt-hour that would increase with inflation and is more than twice the average current wholesale cost of electricity in the country.

The per unit cost for Hinkley Point is in excess of US$8,000/kW. But even if one uses the estimate of roughly US$7,000/kW, as is the case for Flamanville-3, and modify that by a factor of 25-30% to account for reduction in costs due to manufacture in India, the resulting cost per unit capacity will come to around US$4,900 to US$5,250/kW. At US$5,100/kW, the first year tariff for electricity from Jaitapur would be nearly Rs. 19 per kWh.

To put this in perspective, a recent reverse bidding process for solar power projects in Rajasthan had a winning bid of Rs. 4.34 per kWh. In the state of Maharashtra, a solar developer has put in a bid of Rs. 4.41 per kWh. For coal-based power, recent bids have been around Rs. 4.50 per kWh.

In other words, Jaitapur will result in very expensive electricity in comparison to alternative sources. It is reminiscent of the very expensive and controversial Naptha-based project that was constructed by Enron Corporation in Dabhol in Maharashtra in the 1990s.

Seismic risk

Third, the proposed reactor site is in a zone with a relatively high degree of seismic risk. In November 2011, two renowned seismologists published a paper in the Indian Science Journal Current Science which examined the historical record and concluded that a severe earthquake, such as the ones that struck nearby Latur (400 km from Jaitapur) and Koyna (100 km) in 1993 and 1967 respectively, “although unlikely . . . could occur within the lifetime of the nuclear power plant” in the close vicinity of Jaitapur. In a subsequent paper in the same journal, these scientists were even more explicit: “Jaitapur lies in a region where plate tectonic stresses are locally close to critical failure, and where minor perturbations in stress can trigger earthquakes. Geologically, the Jaitapur region meets many of the criteria known to be conducive to intra-plate seismicity. Tectonically, the Jaitapur region is precisely in the same state of seismic quiescence and historical ignorance as the regions of Latur or Koyna were, prior to the damaging earthquakes for which they are now famous”.

Why are earthquakes a special concern? As evidenced by accidents such as the ones at Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986), nuclear power plants can undergo severe accidents even when there are no earthquakes. This potential for severe accidents is amplified during earthquakes because they simultaneously affect many different components of nuclear power plants. Simultaneous failures in different components could lead to what are called common-cause accidents, and these are very difficult to model in standard risk assessments. In part, this is because of the many uncertainties involved in a nuclear reactor’s behaviour during earthquakes. The combination of a nuclear reactor design that has never been operated before and a site that could experience earthquakes is a prescription for heightened risk.

In part as a result of these risks, there is significant local opposition to the project, which has in turn induced the Shiv Sena party, a key alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to ask the central government to scrap the project.

One of the lessons from the nuclear reactor accidents at Fukushima and Chernobyl is that although radioactive fallout from these accidents spread far and wide, the bulk of the health and environmental consequences were borne by inhabitants of the areas near these facilities. Thus, the concerns of inhabitants of the villages near Jaitapur do deserve special attention.

There are, thus, ample reasons for the Indian government to not enter into an agreement to purchase EPRs for Jaitapur. It should still be possible to walk away from the project. Will the government do that or succumb to geostrategic or ideological interests?

Further Reading

•Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (2015), ‘Flamanville EPR reactor vessel manufacturing anomalies’, 7 April 2014.

•Bilham, R and VK Gaur (2011), “Historical and future seismicity near Jaitapur, India”, Current Science, 101(100):1275-1281. Available at:,%20India.pdf

•Kumar, A and MV Ramana (2007), ‘Nuclear safety lessons from Japan’s summer earthquake’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 4 December 2007.

•Ramana, MV (2011), ‘Beyond our imagination: Fukushima and the problem of assessing risk’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 20 April 2011.

•Ramana, MV and Suvrat Raju (2013), “Cost of electricity from the Jitapur Nuclear Power Plant”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 98(26-27), 51-60. Available at:

•Roussely, F (2010), ‘The Roussely Report: saving the French nuclear industry with outrageous measures’, Sortir du nucléaire, 27 July 2010.

•Sant, G, S Dixit and S Wagle (1995), ‘The Enron Controversy: Techno-Economic Analysis and Policy Implications’, Prayas.

•Scientific Correspondence (2012), “Discussion of seismicity near Jatiapur”, Current Science, 103(11): 1273-1278.

•Thakur, Sudhinder (2008), “Economics of nuclear power in the Indian context”, Atoms for Peace: An International Journal, 2(1). Available at:

•Yeo, S (2015), ‘New Nuclear: Finland’s cautionary tale for the UK’, CarbonBrief, 20 October 2015.

Anti-nuclear activist S P Udayakumar floats new party in Tamil Nadu

Business Standard | Chennai | January 18, 2016

S P Udayakumar, who heads the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) that has been opposing the Nuclear plant, on Monday announced the launch of a new political party ‘(Green Tamil Nadu)’ that will also contest the upcoming Assembly elections .

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Udayakumar contested the seat as the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) candidate but later exited the party, alleging alleged thatdid not meet any of his demands or fulfil any of its promises. He also alleged that AAP’s focus has only been on Delhi.

Udayakumar was earlier a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, United States.

According to reports, in 2001 he floated the Green Party of India, inspired by the principles of American environmentalist Ralph Nader, for whom he had worked in the American presidential election in 2000.

Group to monitor trial of former TEPCO executives to clarify truth about Fukushima disaster

The Asahi Shimbun | Masakazu Honda | January 27, 2016


From left, Ruiko Muto, Kazuyoshi Sato and Takashi Soeda hold a news conference in Fukushima on Jan. 19 to announce a planned group that will monitor the trial of three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Masakazu Honda)

Lawyers, journalists and scientists will form a group to help expose the truth and spread details about the Fukushima nuclear disaster during the criminal trial of three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

“We will encourage the court to hold a fair trial while transmitting information regarding the trial across the nation,” said an official of the planned organization, whose name is translated as “support group for the criminal procedure on the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.”

Tsunehisa Katsumata, former chairman of TEPCO, the operator of the crippled plant, and two former vice presidents, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro, face mandatory charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

Although the trial is still months away, 33 people are now setting up the group, including Ruiko Muto, who heads an organization pursuing the criminal responsibility of TEPCO and government officials for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tetsuji Imanaka, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, and Norma Field, a professor emeritus of East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago, have also joined.

Three reactors melted down at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011. A number of hospital patients died in the chaotic evacuation.

About 14,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against TEPCO executives, government officials and scientists in 2012, saying they were aware of the dangers to the Fukushima nuclear plant from a tsunami, but they failed in their responsibility to take proper countermeasures.

Tokyo prosecutors twice decided not to indict the three former TEPCO executives. However, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, a panel of citizens, decided to forcibly indict the three in July last year.

“It has been almost five years since the disaster, but many details, including their foreseeability of the tsunami, remain unclear,” said science writer Takashi Soeda, one of the group’s co-founders. “As TEPCO has not unveiled a sufficient amount of information even in inquiries conducted by the Diet and the government or in civil lawsuits, the truth must be uncovered through the legal force of a criminal trial.”

Five lawyers appointed by the Tokyo District Court will act as prosecutors in the trial.

Legal experts expect the lawyers will indict the former TEPCO executives and release a statement naming the victims around March 11, the fifth anniversary of the triple disaster that still haunts the Tohoku region.


Jeremy Corbyn ‘to address 50,000 in biggest anti-nuclear demonstration for a generation’

The Telegraph | Ben Riley-Smith | 26 January 2016

Labour leader to join march through central London on February 27 as anti-Trident campaign gears up ahead of expected vote in March

Labour is locked in an internal debate about its stance on renewing Trident Photo: MoD Crown Copyright

Jeremy Corbyn will address an estimated 50,000 people in Trafalgar Square in the biggest anti-nuclear march for a generation as campaigners begin a “mass lobby” of MPs over Trident.

With a parliamentary vote expected as early as March, MPs were approached in their constituencies over the weekend by Trident critics in a “coordinated” drive to convince them to scrap the nuclear deterrent.

A mass email campaign is expected in the coming weeks to increase pressure on those MPs – especially in the Labour Party – who are undecided over renewal.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leaderJeremy Corbyn, Labour leader  Photo: Nick Edwards/The Telegraph

Campaigners want to deliver a message to Parliament that spending more than £100 billion on Trident renewal during a period of austerity is a “ridiculous diversion of funds”.

However Trident backers fear a repeat of the pressure that Labour MPs faced before the Syrian air strikes vote, which triggered complaints of bullying and intimidation.

The Labour leader will put himself at the front of the campaign alongside Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, by attending a march through central London on February 27, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s (CND) website.

Two campaign sources told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn has confirmed he would be attending the demonstration.

TridentTrident  Photo: PA

A message on CND’s website reads: “Join us to say No to government plans to buy a new system at a cost of over £100 billion. Parliament will be voting on this in 2016. So this is urgent – we can’t delay.”

Around 10,000 people have already signed up and some backers hope more than 50,000 people will attend – though others are reluctant to predict turnout.

A campaign source said: “We are hoping to make it the biggest demonstration against nuclear weapons since the 1980s. We are really going all out to make this as big as possible.”

Both Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, and Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru’s leader, are expected to attend.

Pro-Trident renewal: Tom Watson (clockwise from tpo left), Hilary Benn, Andy Burnham, Vernon Coaker, Gloria De Piero, Lord Falconer of ThorotonPro-Trident renewal: Tom Watson (clockwise from tpo left), Hilary Benn, Andy Burnham, Vernon Coaker, Gloria De Piero, Lord Falconer of Thoroton

A mass leafleting campaign is also being planned, with CND urging opponents of Trident to distribute campaign literature at train stations, churches and community centres.

A “coordinated” move to lobby MPs at constituency events was also held over the weekend with hundreds of politicians understood to have been targeted.

With the SNP opposing Trident and the vast majority of Tories expected to back renewal, Labour MPs are seen as the key undecided voters when Parliament is asked to make a decision.

The Telegraph revealed earlier this week that less than a quarter of Mr Corbyn’s shadow campaign back his opposition of Trident renewal – though the Labour leader’s allies believe MPs are more evenly divided.

Mr Corbyn’s office has been approached for a comment.

Scrap Jaitapur: citizens oppose nuclear project as French President arrives in India

India Resists | January 25, 2016

In a Press Conference organised in New Delhi, activists opposed the nuclear power project in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur where India is setting up 6 nuclear plants imported from France.

Eminent social activist Aruna Roy, Priya Pillai of Greenpeace India and Kumar Sundaram of Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace(CNDP) addressed the press conference. Here is the press statement that they jointly released:

The French President will be the Chief Guest at this Republic Day parade; but 1800kms from New Delhi, farmers and fisherfolk in Jaitapur will be protesting this week against Mr. Hollande’s visit as the nuclear reactors that India is importing from France threaten their lives, livelihoods and the local ecology.

The Jaitapur project has serious and insurmountable problems – large-scale devastation of pristine and fragile ecosystem of Konkan, destruction of livelihoods for thousands of local farmers, fisherflk, alfonso cultivators and traders engaged in agro-business. Independent experts have underscored some crucial risks like the active seismic faultlines beneath the proposed site, the vulnerabilities of Areva’s reactor design exposed by the French nuclear regulator itself, the lack of independent regulator and safety culture in India and the larger democratic deficit in consulting people about their destinies.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Jaitapur was conducted in a farcical and hurried manner by the previous govt, without even looking into look into the crucial aspects radiological releases, decommissioning and nuclear waste, besides summarily neglecting the vital issues of ecosystems and livelihoods, terrestrial ecosystems and farming, mangrove forests and the fragile marine ecology and fisheries in the region. The BJP had then demanded a fresh EIA for the project.

Similarly, the Modi govt has taken a u-turn on nuclear liability and has gone further than the previous regime in placating the nuclear vendors. In case of any nuclear accident, the Modi govt has provided a insurance pool to the supplier companies from the public money, essentially channeling back the liability to the common people.
Although the former chief of India’s Atomic Energy Commission promised a tariff of maximum Rs. 6.50 per unit for the electricity produced in Jaitapur, independent experts have claimed it will be much higher – between 15 to 20 rupees a unit, far expensive than even domestic nuclear power plants. If we go by costs of EPRS in Britain, each EPR in India would cost Rs. 60,000 crore, meaning the 2 reactors in Jaitapur’s first phase would cost equal to the total expenditure on science and technology.

In the interest of common people of India, we oppose this unsafe, expensive, eco-destructive and anti-people project. The govt must initiate a democratic dialogue for a sustainable future for India.