Top scientists brief PM on nuclear safety

March 16th, 2011 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) Even as Japan deals with the threat of a nuclear meltdown in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting Wednesday with the heads of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to review the safety measures of nuclear installations in India, sources in the PMO said.

On Monday, in a statement in parliament, the prime minister had assured that Indian nuclear power plants would undertake an immediate technical review of all safety systems to ensure that they are able to withstand large natural disasters.

According to PMO sources, the AEC and AERB chiefs briefed the prime minister about the technical safety systems in place in existing power plants in India.

India has 20 nuclear power reactors, out of which only two at Tarapur are boiling water reactors of the type at the Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, where three of its six reactors were hit by explosions and a fourth caught fire in the aftermath of the earthquake. A fresh fire broke out Wednesday in a reactor in the plant.

While the earlier explosions took place due to the failure of the cooling systems, there have been more serious apprehensions about the integrity of the stored spent fuel rods being damaged due to fire.

Indian officials said there was not much worry of a similar situation arising in India.

“We asked the AEC and the Department of Atomic Energy the same question, and what they tell us is that here the designs are different, the storage of spent fuel is different,” National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said during an interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corps.

He added that DAE officials had noted that a scenario here as in Japan “was most unlikely”.

At the same time, officials were closely monitoring the situation in Japan and were hoping to learn from it to further strengthen India’s nuclear safety measures, said Menon.

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