Impose Moratorium On All Further Civilian Nuclear Activity: HRF

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that the Indian government impose a moratorium on all further civilian nuclear activity in the country, including Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra and at Kovvada in Srikakulam district. All ongoing nuclear power projects should be put on hold.  The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) must revoke all conditional clearances accorded to the Jaitapur plant and several other nuclear power projects.

It is by now clear that the nuclear crisis in Japan is fast spiraling out of control. Fukushima tells us that despite the best safeguards, all nuclear facilities are vulnerable to the risk of a catastrophic accident. Considering the complexity of the technology of a nuclear reactor; there is no way to ensure that a major accident at a nuclear power plant will never take place. And a major accident, given the nature of things, will have a devastating impact affecting a very large number of people, over a large territory and over a very long period.

The history of the nuclear age is a history of accidents. Fukushima is the new chilling illustration. Let us remember that Chernobyl claimed an estimated 80,000 to 115,000 lives and 25 years later people are still suffering from the harmful effects of radiation exposure. We do not as yet know the toll from Fukushima but it is likely to be quite high.

The political and nuclear establishment in our country has not drawn the right lessons from Fukushima. They are talking about a revisit of safety systems when what is clearly needed is a fundamental review of our nuclear policy. India presently seeks a quantum leap in installed capacity for nuclear power generation from the current level of 4,120 MW to 63,000 MW by 2032. This vision is an invitation to disaster and has to be jettisoned or we will not have learnt anything from Fukushima.

The HRF is of the opinion that nuclear power has to be rejected because it is intrinsically hazardous, extremely dangerous and is a deadly legacy for future generations. Contrary to official claims, nuclear power is actually more expensive than power from conventional sources. Furthermore, nuclear power is not a solution to the climate crisis.

Nuclear power is the most dangerous form of energy. Even during normal operations of a nuclear power plant, radioactive materials are regularly discharged into the air and water. Radiation is routinely released at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. What is more, nuclear power operations produce a radioactive legacy of waste. A solution for the long-term storage and treatment of radioactive waste has yet to be found. There is not a single safe disposal option for the highly radioactive waste produced by nuclear power stations worldwide.

What our nation needs is an energy system that can fight climate change based on renewable energy and energy efficiency, not on fossil fuels, much less on nuclear fuel. Despite what the government and the nuclear industry tell us, building nuclear power stations will squander resources necessary to implement meaningful climate change solutions. Climate change experts the world over have recognised nuclear power as a dirty, dangerous and unnecessary technology.

The contention that nuclear power is indispensable to meet future energy needs is false; for energy demand, and ‘need’, is obviously a function of the development paradigm chosen and pursued. And ‘energy security’ is not an autonomous objective entity, but must be in alignment with other chosen objectives which must necessarily include equitable growth and concerns for ecology.

We believe that ‘energy security’ can be achieved by increasing efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and distribution, doing away with extravagant and wasteful use of energy, pursuing a path of low-energy intensity and decentralised development and most importantly, making optimum use of alternative clean energy options. The Central Government must radically raise investment in development of sustainable and renewable energy sources and technologies, especially wind and solar energy.

HRF holds that nuclear power is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. We demand a complete stoppage of all nuclear power plants.

VS Krishna
(HRF State general secretary)

S Jeevan Kumar
(HRF State president)


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