Nuclear info centre coming up to dispel public ignorance

Mumbai: A multimedia information centre designed to increase public acceptance of nuclear technology is coming up at the Chennai-based Science and Technology Centre in Tamil Nadu, which also has the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, the KNPP’s Russian makers said on Friday.

The operationalising of the first reactor unit at Kudankulam was delayed due to protests by local fishermen at village Idinthakarai organised by an NGO called the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy.

“I would like to highlight the Rosatom’s practice to open information centres with multimedia programmes aimed at popularisation and increase of public acceptance of atomic technologies across the population. Such centres have been established in Russia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Belarus and Kazakhstan,” Russia’s state atomic energy corporation Rosatom’s (South Asia) Regional President Aleksey Pimenov said here.

“A similar multimedia exposition is now being created in India (in Chennai) at the Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre,” he said at a seminar here organised by Rosatom on the occasion of the company opening a regional centre here to service its south Asia business.

“Openness of the nuclear industry and availability of information is a very important aspect for public acceptance, especially in the post-Fukushima period,” Pimenov added, referring to the tsunami-caused nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.

Pimenov said that Rosatom regularly makes popular science films about the nuclear industry to inform the public on aspects like radioactivity and radiation, “and show people where the myths are and where the reality is”.

“All our nuclear plants are open for the public, environmentalists and the media. If needed, Rosatom organises public hearings in all the regions of its presence. Anyone can take part and ask questions,” he added.

The first 1,000 MW unit of the Kudankulam project was dedicated to the nation on August 10, jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who participated in the ceremony from Moscow through video-conferencing.

According to KNPP site Director R.S. Sundar, Unit 1 has so far generated 10,900 million units of electricity since its synchronisation with the Southern Grid following the reactor’s criticality on July 13, 2013.

The second unit at Kudankulam went critical, or began its fission process, in August this year, and it is expected to be commissioned in 2016.

“I want to stress that this is the first nuclear power plant in the world where the post-Fukushima safety enhancements requirements have already been implemented and being operated successfully,” Russian Consul General here, Andrei Zhiltsov, said at the seminar.

Rosatom has said that Kudankulam is equipped with state-of-the-art safety mechanisms with unique features that make them foolproof.

Modern Russian reactor designs, which have been developed over a decade, have an optimised balance of active and passive safety systems to provide two layers of protection.

The key to preventing an apocalypse in the event of a core meltdown is the “molten-core catcher” — a mandatory safety system included in the Kudankulam project’s basic supply package, the Russian designers have said.