Russian reactors at Kudankulam not under civil liability law: Official

November 14th, 2011 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Nov 14 (IANS) Russian atomic power plant supplier Atomstroyexport will not be governed by India’s civil nuclear liability law for the two 1000 MW reactors installed at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP), a senior official of India’s nuclear establishment said Monday.

“The agreement with Russia was signed in 1988 when there was no civil nuclear liability law in India. The agreement has some indemnification clause similar to the ones we had signed with Canada and America while importing reactors from them,” said M.R. Srinivasan, member, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and its former chairman.

He was here to participate in the interactive session on the “Need of Nuclear Power and Safety Norms” organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Southern Region.

India’s nuclear liability legislation caps the operator’s liability at Rs.1,500 crore ($331 million) and gives the operator the right to seek damages from suppliers if there is an accident.

Srinivasan said the agreement for importing third and fourth reactors from Russia is yet to be signed and he was not able to comment whether they will fall under the civil liability legislation.

Stating that Russia will supply enriched uranium to power the reactors at Kudankulam, Srinivasan added that by 2020 India may have a commercial uranium enrichment facility.

Queried about the small amount spent by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) as corporate social responsibility in Kudankulam, he said: “The CSR activities are done once the plant starts operations.”

On the complaint of the villages in Kudankulam that they have not been paid the compensation for the land acquired by NPCIL, Srinivasan said: “We gave the money to the state government. We don’t pay money directly to the land owners. It is for the state government to discharge its obligation.”

India’s nuclear power plant operator NPCIL is building two 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors with Russian technology and equipment in Kudankulam, around 650 km from Chennai.

The project work has, however, come to a standstill since last month as the agitators, led by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), intensified their protest by blocking roads leading to the nuclear power project site.

The villagers fear for their lives and safety in case of any nuclear accident and the long-term impact it would have on the population.

The Indian nuclear establishment is now into fire-fighting mode with various officials trying to explain the safety features of the Russian reactors at Kudankulam.

Srinivasan’s interactive session is part of that.

Coming down heavily on the environmentalists, Srinivasan said: “They think themselves as super patriots while terming the project builders as criminals. More people die of road accidents in India but nobody worries about that.”

Meanwhile, reporters at the event were shocked to note the views of the Indian nuclear establishment about the media.

A paper “Nuclear Energy - How Much Bad It Is” written by K. Periasamy, former scientist with department of atomic energy and circulated at the venue, said: “Do you think a newspaper reporter holding a BA Literature or BA History degree knows and cares more than a nuclear engineer (who lives with his children closest to the reactor than anyone else) about the well being of his family and the public?”

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