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How will nuclear waste at Kudankulam be handled: SC asks govt

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the government what mechanism it will put in place to handle nuclear waste at the Kudankulam power plant once it becomes operational.

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishanan and Deepak Misra asked the Centre and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCL), which operates the plant, to provide information how they intend to transport the nuclear waste out of the plant and store it in save place without causing damage to environment.

Protests over the Kudankulam plant. PTI.

"Where would it (nuclear waste) go and what impact it would have on environment and people's health if it is transported to other place," the bench said, adding, "How much and how long such waste can be stored?"

It said that issues pertaining to heath and environment are as important as safety of the plant and asked the government and corporation to reply on safety measures to be taken by them while transporting and storing nuclear waste.

Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman, appearing for the Corporation, replied that he would file an affidavit in which all the queries would be answered.
Meanwhile, the Corporation submitted that the plant is completely safe and can withstand any kind of natural disaster and terrorist attack.

"The design includes provisions for withstanding external events like earthquake, tsunami/storm, tidal waves, cyclones, shock waves, aircraft impact on main buildings and fire," Nariman said.

"As regards to the vulnerability of the KKNPP to the terrorists attacks, sabotage, etc, it has elaborate physical security arrangements in place and it can even withstand plane crash," he said.

Buttressing the point in favour of nuclear plant, which are facing stiff opposition by a section of people, Nariman said there has been only three nuclear accidents and there is no chance of such accidents happening in Kudankulam plant as many additional security measures have put in place.

He was referring to the Three Mile Island accident (1979), the Chernobyl disaster (1986), and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011). "As regards to the vulnerability of the KKNPP to the terrorists attacks, sabotage, etc, it has elaborate physical security arrangements in place to ensure its security. The
structural design of the facilities at KKNPP ensures that in the event of a physical attack, the structure would prevent the release of any radioactivity into the public domain," he said.

He also said that the project has got all the environment clearance and there is no illegality. The court was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by anti-nuclear activists challenging the setting up of the plant alleging that all the safety measures have not put in place.

PTI