Jaitapur nuclear power plant

The government is planning to build the world’s largest nuclear power plant in Jaitapur, on the west coast of India, in Maharashtra.  The site is an ecological and biodiversity ‘hotspot’ that's also known to have high seismic activity. The plan is an untested, expensive and dangerous gamble with health and land, which is being vehemently opposed.

What's proposed?

Six 1650 MW nuclear reactors, provided by French company AREVA NP.  The reactors will be operated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a company owned by the Government of India.  With the backing of the government, NPCIL is pushing ahead with its plans despite fierce local resistance to the project.

If built, the total capacity of 9900 MW will make the Jaitapur nuclear reactor ‘park’ the largest in the world.

The technology

The reactors are European Pressurised Reactors, or EPRs, a design developed by AREVA NP.  There are no EPRs operational yet anywhere in the world, and the safety and reliability of the technology is highly questionable.  The EPR is based on the same principle as older reactors and, being more powerful, presents even more potential for catastrophe.

Three EPR construction sites currently exist in the world, in France, Finland and China. The plants in both France and Finland have repeatedly run over budget, and are running years behind schedule while there is little information on the status of the projects in China.

On rocky ground

The land for which the Jaitapur nuclear power plant is intended is classified as a seismic zone four, out of a possible five.  This has been confirmed by documents obtained under the Right to Information Act of 2005.  The website of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) also places Ratnagiri, the district where Jaitapur is located, as a zone four region.

Seismic zone four is known as the ‘High Damage Risk Zone’, under the national system for assessing the likelihood of earthquakes. Further, documents reveal that ninety-two earthquakes have occurred there in just the twenty years between 1985 and 2005.  The most severe one measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.

However, in the Jaitapur Evironmental Impact Assessment of 2010, the NPCIL stated that the site was classified as zone three, which corresponds to a lower risk.  The organisation has also recently begun to respond to public pressure on the plant by stating that the Jaitapur site is a mere zone three.

Biodiversity

Jaitapur is in the Konkan region in the Western Ghats. It is considered to be one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which are threatened. This project will put this entire ecosystem at considerable risk.

Protests

There has been fierce opposition to the project from the people of Jaitapur and the surrounding areas.  Land has been forcibly acquired in most cases. While there have been attempts to paint the agitations against the plant as being primarily driven by a demand for higher compensation, this is far from the truth and objections to the reactor are manifold. The issues at stake for the local people include concerns about loss of livelihood, serious damage to the environment, issue of safety given the seismic activity of the site, track record of disaster preparedness in India, and finally but importantly, the complete lack of transparency about the project.  The government has made no genuine attempt to address the issues raised and has essentially been trying to gloss over them while stubbornly pressing ahead with the plan.

Banks’ pullout

Early this year, NPCIL expanded the consortium of banks which will invest in Jaitapur from five to fifteen. While the initial list of banks included HSBC, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Sociate Genrale and  Nataxis, later other banks such as Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and Santander were also invited to invest. Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank - the top two German banks - were also invited to be part of the consortium. While Commerzbank decided not to invest in the project early on, Deutsche Bank expressed interest in participating in the project. Now it is confirmed that Deutsche Bank has  decided to cancel its participation. The fact that Jaitapur is located on a seismic zone is of grave concern to banks. The events of Fukushima will certainly further intensify those concerns.

The latest updates

 

Vigils across India show citizens’ anxiety over nuclear power

Feature story | April 18, 2011 at 11:00

Demonstrations and vigils were held in eleven cities across India on April 11, the one month anniversary of Fukushima, to send a message of solidarity with the victims of the disaster, and to demand that world governments invest instead in safe...

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The breaking newsflashes about Japan’s devastating tragedy have shown that nature’s fury is unstoppable. Even the advanced countries are vulnerable to the dangers of nuclear technology. While technology has helped humans race ahead of...

Candles do the talking in Delhi

Blog entry by Ali Abbas | April 13, 2011

Memories of what happened in Japan are still fresh in our minds. Japan was devastated by an earthquake and a powerful tsunami which affected thousands of people. What followed was a meltdown at Fukushima nuclear plant, causing what has...

Fukushima disaster rated as equivalent to Chernobyl

Blog entry by Grace | April 12, 2011

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex has been upgraded from a level 5 to a level 7 on the International Nuclear Events Scale (INES), one month after the earthquake and tsunami that first damaged the Japanese power plant.

National Day of Action against Nuclear

Image gallery | April 12, 2011

Saying no to nukes. Petitions first, vigil next

Blog entry by Priya Pillai | April 7, 2011

Have you ever travelled by the Konkan railway, passing through Ratnagiri in Maharashtra? If you have, then you'd understand why I enjoy this journey so much. I look forward to the picturesque Ratnagiri and the Western Ghats. It’s such...

Field team finds high levels of contamination outside of Fukushima evacuation zone

Blog entry by Jess Miller | April 7, 2011

Our radiation monitoring teams have discovered high levels of contamination in crops grown on the outskirts of Minamisoma city in Japan. The data was collected from the gardens of Minamisoma city residents, and registered well over the...

जैतापुर के लिए एक चेतावनी बनकर सामने आया फुकुशिमा

Blog entry by डा. सीमा जावेद | April 1, 2011

जापान में फुकुशिमा के तीन रिएक्टरों में विस्फोटों ने एकबार फिर परमाणु ऊर्जा के विनाशकारी पक्ष को सामने ला खड़ा किया और अब उबरते हुए परमाणु उद्योग का वैश्विक आकर्षण खत्म होता नजर आ रहा है। यूरोप जर्मनी जैसे विकसित देश इससे किनारा करते...

Marching against nukes

Blog entry by Usha Saxena | March 31, 2011

It was the last day of the Parliament session – 25th March 2011. A motley bunch of concerned citizens – under the banner ‘Anti-Nuclear Struggle Solidarity Forum’ - marched determinedly under the blistering afternoon sun from Mandi...

Call to widen evacuation area around Fukushima

Blog entry by Brian Fitzgerald | March 28, 2011

Our team of radiation specialists in Japan brought back their findings for the day. The press release says it all: Fukushima, March 27, 2011: Greenpeace radiation experts have confirmed radiation levels of up to ten micro...

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