India to review nuclear safety systems: PM (Lead)

March 14th, 2011 - 7:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) India has ordered a review of safety systems at all its nuclear plants to ensure they withstand “large natural disasters” like tsunamis and earthquakes, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Monday and assured the country that its atomic power generators were safe.

“The Department of Atomic Energy and its agencies, including the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, have been instructed to undertake an immediate technical review of all safety systems of our nuclear power plants, particularly with a view to ensuring that they would be able to withstand the impact of large disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes,” Manmohan Singh told the Lok Sabha in the wake of a nuclear fallout in Japan after a devastating earthquake.

The nuclear meltdown in Japan has raised concerns over the safety of Indian atomic power generators - particularly the proposed Jaitapur that falls in a seismically sensitive area in Maharashtra.

The prime minister sought to reassure the house that the government attaches “the highest importance to nuclear safety”.

He said the country operates 20 nuclear plants and 18 of them were indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors and two at Tarapur plant were boiling water reactors of the type being operated in Japan.

“A safety audit of these reactors has been completed recently,” he said in a statement.

Manmohan Singh said the Indian nuclear plants have in the past met their safety standards.

“Following the earthquake in Bhuj in 2002, the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station continued to operate safely without interruption. Following the 2004 tsunami, the Madras Atomic Power Station was safely shutdown without any radiological consequences,” he said.

He said that work “is under way in the Department of Atomic Energy towards further strengthening of India’s national nuclear safety regulatory authority”.

The prime minister also assured the house that India “will spare no effort in assisting the Japanese authorities in dealing with the aftermath of the disaster” created by the massive earthquake and tsunami last week.

“We can never forget that India has been the largest recipient of Japan’s overseas development assistance. We have the best relations with Japan. We are ready to send search and rescue teams and relief material. We stand ready to help in the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction phase.”

He said the 25,000 Indians living in Japan were all safe as “most of them were not living in the areas affected by the tsunami”.

“About 70 Indians are in the shelters established by Japanese authorities in the tsunami affected areas. We are monitoring their welfare. So far, we don’t have any reports of casualties (of Indians),” the prime minister said.

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