Thursday, 19 March 2015

Kudankulam Atomic Plant A Real Threat

There is widespread belief that nuclear energy is low-cost and low-priced which is only because it is heavily subsidized and tax-exempted. Once these exemptions and subsidies are removed, which sure will be as it regularly happens with other energy forms, its price will sky rocket. The largest nuclear energy producers amassed huge profits from their long-functioning plants but electricity prices did not come down. The energy is there and the profit, but the profit goes to a few hands; the burden of keeping waste becomes that of future generations. Statistics show that the more nuclear energy is produced, the more highly priced it becomes. But, when the more wind energy is produced, the lesser has its price become. It is because nuclear monopolies control governments unlike renewable energy producers and have a free hand in deciding at what price their product is to be sold even while enjoying subsidies, and at what rate their price is to be raised each year which is about 10 percent now. The question is, without state subsidies, concessions and exemptions how are nuclear plants viable? In many countries, local communities and local administrations run economically and environmentally viable small renewable energy plants without setting up elaborate grids. They do not dictate their laws or command governments what policies are to be adopted in energy sector. But that is not the case with nuclear energy sector. Because their plants need huge amounts for construction and they possibly own their distribution grids, they consider governments their slaves, which they actually are, and dictate terms, rules, laws, even while enjoying state concessions. Why should this go on for more years and in more countries? While there are already established other energy production forms which do not enforce political and economic slavery, why rely on and retain a rich slave master who is unsuitable to the modern-day world? It is irrational and illogical that energy makers function as policy makers also. Power makers delegate their representatives to the policy making body; top government officials in the policy making body joins the energy makers when they retire, which causes these heavy state subsidies, exemptions and concessions to nuclear energy makers. First they work in the government, lobbying for the company; then they work in the company, again lobbying government for the company. Perched in their positions which we mistake for governmental, for the past decades, they have been crying out loud that unless nuclear energy is there, the world will fall into darkness. 15 percent of energy produced in Germany in 2009 came from renewable energy sources. This could be made to 50 percent in the world in 2020 and to 100 percent by 2040. They also have been demanding extension of the life period of their reactors, for they would bring steady profits without further investment, and for, they would be there to defeat moves to turn to safe renewable energy sources.

Suppose our car which is an old-fashioned one, needs a few repairs and we take it to our usual workshop. The garage owner will tell us that many of its spare parts won’t be available in the market anymore since the manufacturer may have moved to more modern models and stopped their production or the available spares won’t suit our model of the car after its long usage and heavy wear and tear. So our beloved favourite workshop makes some makeshift arrangements to save the car from a shameful off-road condition and fits in spares from other model cars or simply does some ingenious welding and refitting. Now the car is ready to undertake a trans-Siberian trip, he announces. We are happy to have our constant companion back in the running condition, that for many decades to come it won’t have anymore problems, and that it won’t cost us any more money or time for repairs for a few more years. And they are happy that they have not failed our confidence in them and that they richer by a few more thousand dollars. But we all know that it is risky. That is the case with all aged, old and problematic reactors. The older it becomes, the more risky it also becomes. Most of their spares also won’t be available and the engineer would be making some similar makeshift arrangements to meet the government’s deadline to avoid power cuts, blackouts and brownouts. Many nations built their reactors during the nuclear plant building spree since the 1970s and all of them are now old, problematic and nearing their expiry year. But these countries would not be willing to replace them with new reactors due to the heavy cost of building new reactors and also due to the inability to appease their opposing people. So they simply decide to extend the service of these old reactors, postponing their retirement. From many countries throughout the world we now hear prolongation of the services of existing power plants. All of them are cheating their people and throwing people to the wolves. When they say renovation, simply know that it is makeshift arrangements. They are never going to dismantle the reactors, cooling towers and attached vessels and metal systems and substituting them with new ones but making stop-gap arrangements till the laws could be modified or bypassed to make possible their continued functioning. Either dismantling and substitution, or shutting down the operation; there is no other alternative to an aged nuclear power plant. Engineers, companies and corporations will come up with excellent-looking solutions to extend the life of a plant and governments will accept their proposals with great show; all to cheat people and the world. A milking cow would be turned to the butcher only when it bleeds in place of milk. If it is an old nuclear plant, even scrap merchants won’t go anywhere near it. Replacing them with original components is never, considering their unavailability.

Suspension of civil rights is a measure governments adopt everywhere to crush people’s opposition to nuclear power. When the construction of a new nuclear plant is going on or raw materials or processed materials are being moved through public roads, government blocks traffic on these roads for hours or for weeks. The area around the construction sites would be banned for protestation marches. Protestors are treated like terrorists, they are forced away, beaten, houses raided, phones tapped and employment terminated. Hundreds of them are arrested, imprisoned and maimed, with or without court orders. Rules and regulations stipulate that reactors must belong to latest technologies and safety and protection measures should also be latest. But reactors continue to open without interference from law but when people, fearing hazards and accidents, protest and assemble, there is every law and judicial presence there to stop and persecute them. Governments like India who boast about being the largest democracy in the world are never ashamed to counter nuclear protestors with guns, grenades, water cannons and latthi charges. For every penny of lobbying money they receive from energy cartels, they save two shots for every nuclear protestor. No government in this world has any substantiating argument to justify nuclear energy against the Aeons-long radiation effect, so they turn to violence like barbarian clan chiefs. For centuries, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism have been dividing people and making them fight one another. Now it is the turn of nuclear energy to make people take stand on two opposite sides and war till the end of their lives. This war which had been going on for more than 60 years had a small respite a decade earlier when large electrical manufacturing companies agreed to a truce whereby they consented to a gradual nuclear phase-out in return for many concessions. They enjoy these concessions but continue to build more and more nuclear reactors everywhere. Even though the first nation in the world to build a nuclear power station, Germany, declaring itself non-nuclear in the future was a shock to them, these companies found it much solacing and a relief to seduce India, China and Russia to go on firmly in the path of the nuclear. As a consequence, the aforementioned civil rights violations and suppression of people’s freedom too are going on in these countries. Actually they are emerging as a nuclear lobby and cornering Nepal, Pakistan, Burma, Tibet and Sri Lanka. If any of these countries go non-nuclear, declare that Indian, Chinese and Russian reactors which are very close to them are a threat to their people and demand dismantling of these reactors, it would start another political polarization and unrest in the sub continent which is the common fear of these three nations which made them unite nuclearly, defying all other previous political attachments.

News: Commissioning date of Kudankulam Unit 2 nearing. 17 February 2014

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