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article imageA new Fukushima in the making? South India's Kudankulam!

By R. C. Camphausen     Apr 14, 2013 in Environment
The Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant in the southernmost tip of India has been contentious for years, but now a senior scientist alleges that the use of inferior building materials poses a real threat to its safety.
A mere few weeks before the plant's first reactor is to go online, in April or May 2013, new hints arise that allege the plant to be unsafe. Government agencies, as is their habit, claim that the installation is state-of-the-art and safe, even in the event of a tsunami; yet one of India's foremost nuclear specialists is not convinced.
Last week, the Times of India carried an article in which A. Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), raises questions about the quality of the equipment used in building the plant.
Sub-standard materials have come to the Kudankulam plant and they are causing problems, he said, adding Dangerous things have been done undercover. AERB officials are not responding to any queries. There are reports from Russia about the supply of substandard atomic energy equipment. This has to be investigated before they go ahead with the commissioning. Since faults may not be known for a few years, safety concerns of the people have to be cleared.
The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, often referred to as KNPP or KKNPP, is located very close to the beach in a densely populated district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. More than a million people, villagers and fishermen, live in a 30 km radius of the plant; way too many people to quickly evacuate if an accident should happen. This alone should have prevented the site from being chosen, but neither on-site protests not court action has prevented it from being built.
View of the Kudamkulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu  India
View of the Kudamkulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, India
Times of India
One case has even been to the Supreme Court, and while the Court has stated it would not hesitate to stop the project if it was found unsafe, the local population is of course very concerned that such closure may come too late.
The project has been in the making since 1991 and has seen several delays, not only by demonstrations, protests and court cases, but also with delivery of goods from Russia and the death of Sergei Ryzhov, chief designer of the light water VVER nuclear reactors used at the site, who was killed in a plane accident.
Next, there were problems with fresh water supply for the cooling system, and an additional tank had to be built, plus a desalination plant that had not been planned earlier.
Note: Kudankulam is also spelled as Koodankulam, at least on a few Indian websites.
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