The earthquake hazard assessment study carried out for the proposed nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra has notable flaws, eminent geophysicist Vinod K. Gaur said here on 10.08.2012.
Professor Gaur of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, said the site investigation work had several weaknesses including geotechnical findings with ambiguous implications. The study neglected crucial observations relating to seismicity, he said delivering the 11th C. Karunakaran endowment lecture organised by the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS).
“The absence of seismicity in Jaitapur in the past century is erroneously interpreted to infer that no seismicity will occur in the future. The fallacy of this argument lies in the recognition that the same claim could have been made for both the Koyna and Latur regions before they experienced massive earthquakes of magnitude above 6 on the Richter scale.”
The Jaitapur plant was claimed to have no active faults within five km, ignoring the fact that the National Institute of Oceanography mapped offshore faults that had disturbed recent submarine sediments within three km of the site. “The Vijaydurg fault, a 35-km onshore fault at the base of the Jaitapur terrace, is classified as inactive, yet no seismic evidence is presented to indicate when this fault last slipped. No trenching of the fault was considered necessary and no estimate of the earthquake magnitude that could occur on this fault has been attempted. There has been no attempt to map the offshore extent of the fault.”
Professor Gaur also questioned the claim of immunity of the site to a tsunami. Observing that what appeared a major tsunami occurred in 1524, 100 km north of Jaitapur, possibly caused by offshore faulting or a distant earthquake, he said the study offered no discussion of the potential tsunami threat faced by the plant.
The nuclear establishment had avoided a discussion on seismic safety, he said. “The Nuclear Power Corporation of India has invoked the expert opinion of three notable seismologists to endorse the safety of the Jaitapur site. Seismologists who might have other views on the issue are intimidated and silenced.” He pointed out that U.S. geologist Roger Bilham, who authored a paper on the seismicity of the Jaitapur region, was banned from entering India.
Professor Gaur said it was intriguing that high resolution seismic, palaeoseismic studies and submarine mapping of offshore faults were missing from the investigations aimed at ensuring safe design of the plant. “That a plea is necessary to ask for transparency in scientific analysis of issues crucial to societal well-being is a tragic commentary on the democratic character of a society.”
Nearly 1,600 farmers and fisherfolk on June 2012 protested at Madban and Sakhri Nate in Ratnagiri district against the Jaitapur nuclear power plant.
No arrest was made, but police detained 22 activists, including Rajan Salvi, MLA, for violating the curfew order.
There was tension in the area throughout the day, even as the protest fizzled out at the actual Jaitapur plant site where only around 100 local farmers, including women, gathered to protest against the forcible land acquisition and to till the land they lost to the project.
Nearly 1,500 fisherfolk protested at Sakhri Nate village to show solidarity with the farmers of Madban and Mithgavane who lost their land to the project.
Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant
Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant derived its name From Jaitapur lighthouse which is mentioned in many international maps. Government of India has decided to promote nuclear power at a large scale in view of rapidly rising demand for electricity, limited and depleting fossil resources, environmentally benign and safe nature of nuclear power etc. Accordingly, Government of India accorded its sanction in October 2005 to set up the Nuclear Power Plant at Jaitapur besides three other locations.
Technical and Economic Reasons for Selection of Jaitapur Site
The Site Selection Committee recommended setting up a nuclear power plant at Jaitapur, based on the suitability of meeting criteria like which include availability of land vs. population density, available source of cooling water , seismicity, safe-grade elevation at site (flood analysis etc), environment aspects and proper access for transportation of heavy/over-dimensional equipment to plant site. Along with these conditions and based on some other considerations the Government approved Jaitapur site for the establishment of the NPP.
The site selection for is carried out by the Site Selection Committee, notified by the Government of India which selects site for setting up a nuclear power plant, revied various parameters as per the requirements laid down in the code of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the laid-down criteria.
The Jaitapur site is not considered earthquake-prone. As per seismic zoning map of Government of India, Jaitapur site falls within zone III.
As per the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) codal requirement, there should not be any active fault within 5 km radius from the proposed site of an NPP. Further, based on the studies carried out by various government institutes/ organisations, there is no active fault found up to 30 km radius from JNPP site. Hence, the site is not considered earthquake-prone. This is to further confirm that based on the available data of seismicity prevailing in the geographical region, all the structures, buildings and equipments of JNPP would be designed to qualify the “ground motion acceleration”
Benefits of the Project
The benefits of project are-
i) The project will augment electricity generation in the country, in a benign and environment-friendly way, which is the need of the hour.
ii) Development of areas around project site.
iii) Direct and indirect employment opportunities.
iv) Contribution of National Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) in social and community development of surrounding areas, especially nearby villages, in the field of education, health and infrastructure facilities.
Generation Capacity of JNPP
One unit of 1650 MWe plant operating at full capacity shall generate 36-39 million units per day. Presently, generation capacity of six units is 1650 MWe capacity each. Evolutionary Pressurised Reactors (EPR) from AREVA, France is under consideration of the Government of India.
Number of Reactor Units
There will be six reactor units of 1650 MWe each at JNPP. The distance between each adjacent reactor unit is planned to be 250-300 meters.
Completion of Project
5 to 6 months’ time is required to declare commercial operation after completion of construction. The time required for completion of each unit is approximately six years from the start date. Approximately all the six units of 1650 MWe each will be constructed in a twin-unit mode in phased manner and implemented in a period of 15-18 years.
Life Span of Each Plant
The guaranteed life of the proposed plant is 60 years.
Type of Fuel
This plant will be “PWR-type”, based on enriched uranium fuel. Irrespective of the fuel type, all the safety guidelines based on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)/Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) regulations are strictly adhered to by NPCIL to ensure that there is no adverse effect on environment, health and life of people through air, sea and land as a result of the operation of the NPP.The uranium will be supplied by AREVA, France, which will be also supplying the reactor units.
Source of Fresh Water
The fresh water requirement of the plant units and the proposed residential complex of JNPP will be met from a desalination plant facility installed by (NPCIL).
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