India’s N-stations safer than Japan’s

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India has no real threats from nuclear disasters as yet, for more than one reason. The first is that Indian nuclear plants are located sufficiently far from subduction zones or that which is prone to earthquakes.

According to scientists, another reason is that the design and structure of nuclear plants in India are robust, built in such a way that can prevent radioactive release. The heavy water reactors, that are built to de-pressurise the core and cool it down at 50 degrees per hour is a feature that the reactors in Japan’s Fukushima lacked.

Speaking at IISc, Prof M.R. Srinivasan, former member Atomic Energy Commission said, “Tsunami wasn’t a large part of the consciousness in nuclear plants for a few early years in India but it has become over the years. We (India) are not too close to very high density earthquakes but it is necessary to collect new information we are getting from Japan and incorporate where necessary in our reactors.”

In India, there are 20 nuclear plants that are operational while eight are under construction. Of the 20, 18 include heavy water reactors and double containers with the outer structure designed to withstand an aircraft collision, added Prof Srinivasan. Prof Kusala Rajendran of IISc added during a discussion on nuclear reactors in India at the National institute of advanced studies (Nias) on Wednesday, that the reactors are located in such a way that the travel time from tsunami zones and to shut down is at least four to five hours. “That way, India has no real threat but there is from neighbouring countries where nuclear reactors are located in the vicinity of tsunamigenic zones.”

Commenting on the present apprehension with regard to nuclear reactors in the country in the backdrop of the disaster in Japan, Prof. Srinivasan said that it maybe a legitimate reaction that nuclear power is dangerous but it also has to be looked at objectively. “We do need additional and alternate sources of energy to meet the needs of the nation but how much risk and how much challenge is the constant debate.”

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