India puts faith in nuclear energy
Posted on 02 Jan 2013 and read 1717 times
India currently has 20 nuclear reactors, of which 19 are in operation, and approval has been given for the construction of six more — with a combined capacity of 9,900MW — at Jaitapur in the west coast state of Maharashtra (in partnership with France-based Areva).
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India says: “Extensive studies carried out by various government organisations have found no active geological fault within 30km of the proposed site, thus proving that it is not earthquake prone.” Doubts about safety were first raised in November 2011 by two renowned geologists — Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado and Vinod Gaur at the Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation in Bangalore. According to them, the Indian Plate is flexed by its collision with the Tibetan Plateau, resulting in ‘belts’ of buckling parallel to the Himalayas that extend southward, deep into the plate interior.
This ‘flexural depression,’ they said, resulted in high compressional stresses; these were responsible for the thrust faulting that produced the Latur earthquake in 1991 (magnitude 6.3) and the Koyna earthquake in 1967 (magnitude 6.4). Because the Jaitapur region lies “in this same compressional down-warp” responsible for generating these two earthquakes, they argued: “A similar-sized earthquake could occur directly beneath
the nuclear power plant.”
Meanwhile, Japanese company Mitsubishi has revealed a radiation-resistant robot designed to ‘clean up’ the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Other firms — among them Hitachi and Toshiba — have also launched remote-controlled robots recently.
The Fukushima plant was damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Robots are already working inside the plant, but none of them was specifically designed for this kind of work. Mitsubishi’s Meister (Maintenance Equipment Integrated System of Telecontrol Robot) is about 1.3m tall and has two arms, each able to hold a load up to 15kg. It is equipped with various tools, and its electronics are hardened to withstand radiation.