With the leakages of radioactive elements including iodine occurring frequently from the atomic reactors, a radiation Armageddon may happen in India in near future. It might spell doom to the locality of the reactor as the deadly effects of radiation lasts for 900-years or more.
The heavy water leakage from Kakrapur (Gujarat) atomic power station on March 11, 2016 is the latest example of what might have been a major radiation disaster. Since 1991, over 14 major leakages happened besides several minor ones in the cargo section of airports.
India aims to generate 14.6 GWe nuclear capacities by 2014, 63 GWe by 2032 and meet 25% of the country’s electricity need from nuclear power by 2050 necessitating setting up of more atomic reactors thus looming large the danger of more cases of radiation leakages.
According to the Nobel Prize nominee in Chemistry for 2017, Prof. Mrinal Thakur, unless the Indian Government protects all nuclear installation with the polymer-based Anti-Nuclear Radiation Shields (ANRS), a Fukushima (Japan) type disaster may happen. The polymer-based paper or ANRS absorbs radiation. It gradually changes colour and when it turns black, the absorption of radiation is complete.
Prof. Thakur, an NRI-scientist and the Director of the Photonic Materials Research Laboratory of Auburn University (USA), regretted though he submitted a proposal to “seal” all nuclear reactors with ANRS to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), it was not implemented endangering survival of the employees working at nuclear installations.
“I even met the former Presidents, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Mr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in New Delhi to apprise them of the lurking danger of nuclear leakages. However, “sealing” of atomic reactors was not done,” Prof. Thakur said regretting the “insensitive attitude of the Central Government may cause irreparable damage to the country”.
In a statement here, he said the Narendra Modi Government and erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led Ministry took no steps to safeguard the nuclear reactors against leakage of iodine and radioactive elements though the global regulatory bodies including International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP) prescribed specific norms for permissible doses of radiation from X-Ray tubes and shielding of walls of X-Ray rooms. The ANRS functions in line with RCRP.
Nominated 17-times for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Prof. Thakur said with the help of the ANRS, patented globally by him, all nuclear reactors can be sealed against any radiation leakage caused by industrial accidents and natural calamities like Tsunami, cyclone, landslides, flood and earthquake.
He regretted though he submitted a “concrete proposal” to the AEC after holding a meeting with it’s top officials in Mumbai five years ago, no decision was taken on it. He said the Centre must act immediately to ensure that the AEC starts working on his proposal as all nuclear installations, radioactive waste facilities and rocket/space satellite launching stations have dangers of radiation leakage due to natural calamities.
Radiation Leakage Incidents in India
November 2009: Kaiga Generating Station
April 2003: Narora Atomic Power Station (NAPS) in Uttar Pradesh
January 2003: Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant (Tamil Nadu)
May 2002: Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS).
November 2001:NAPS resulting in one worker receiving an internal radiation dose of 18.49 mSv (8).
April 2000: Workers cleaning up the contaminated area received ‘significant uptakes of tritium.’
March 1999:Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) at Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu). Between four and 14-tonnes (10) of heavy water leaked from the pipes at during a test process.
May 1994:The inner surface of the containment dome of Unit I of Kaiga Generating Station collapses (delaminates) while the plant is under construction.
February 1994: Helium gas and heavy water leak.
May 1992: Tarapur Atomic Power Station. Tube leak causes a radioactive release of 12 Curies of radioactivity from.
January 1992: Four tons of heavy water spills.
December 1991:A leak from pipelines in the vicinity of CIRUS and Dhruva research reactors at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Trombay (Maharashtra), results in severe Cs-137 soil contamination of thousands of times the acceptable limit. Local vegetation was also found to be contaminated.
July 1991:A contracted labourer mistakenly paints the walls of RAPS with heavy water before applying a coat of whitewash. He also washed his paintbrush, face and hands in the deuterated and tritiated water. He has not been traced since.
March 1991:Heavy water leak at MAPS takes four days to clean up.
How to Avert a Big Nuclear Radiation Disaster?
Prof. Thakur said if the inner and outer-walls of nuclear reactors are covered with ANRS, iodine or radioactive rays cannot come out as they would be absorbed by the polymer-based papers. Radioactive iodine is particularly dangerous since it remains as a vapor at ordinary temperature and can travel long distances at a very short time.
It causes a plethora of very serious diseases primary among them being thyroid cancer. Prof. Thakur said the nuclear waste facilities which store spent nuclear fuel rods must also be insulated with the
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