Statements of Radical Socialist


We are alarmed by the recent contamination of at least 55 workers at the Kaiga nuclear power
plant. Around 55 employees working in Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka have suffered nuclear radiation after drinking contaminated water in the plant, and have been hospitalised after they reportedly suffered radiation poisoning. These employees, working in the first maintenance unit of the plant were given treatment for increasing level of tritium. The results showed that the tritium level was above the normal range and the employees felt uneasiness after drinking water from a water cooler in the operating area. There are 1,689 permanent employees and around 5,000 contract workers, all with access to the area where the Tritium had been stored as well as to the dispenser.
The Atomic Energy Commission did not have any clue about the cause of the accident and in an attempt to play down the security lapses; its Chairman Anil Kakodkar said that the contamination could have been an inside job. It is indeed appalling to note that the excuses presented by in the nuclear establishment have been rather derisory and pathetic. The official explanations of a “disgruntled” employee causing “mischief” raise more questions than it answers. Calling the radiation exposure at the Kaiga power plant in Karnataka an act of mischief Mr. Kakodar additionally alleged, ‘it is a mischief-maker who is responsible for this. It is a criminal act and a punishable offense under Atomic Energy Act of India. There is no danger to either to the exposed workers or to the environment or to people who come in contact with these workers. It is a serious operating procedural lapse.’ The Kaiga power plant authorities have issued a statement saying that a thorough survey of the plant did not indicate any heavy water leak from any of the reactor systems.
It is equally shocking to note the attempt to suppress all information about the gravity of the situation. The media got hold of the story on November 28th whereas the incident occurred on the 25th of November. It seems that despite the best of the efforts of the nuclear establishment, the information could not be fully suppressed since a lot of employees needed hospitalisation. Also, in an attempt to immediately assuage public fears, the level of tritium activity found in the urine samples taken from the affected workers were expressed as mild and no concrete number was ever mentioned in public.
The dangerous impacts of Tritium radioactivity have always been underscored by the nuclear establishments - both nationally internationally. However, Tritium is a dangerous toxin because it is chemically identical to hydrogen. Hence, it is part of water and can go anywhere in the body and, with the human body being composed of over 70 percent by water, the effects can be cataclysmic. In addition, tritium can sometimes get bound to organic molecules and spend very long time in the body. Also, it can cross the placental border and severely affect growth and development of babies in the womb. This is why it is the most likely suspect in the spate of congenital deformities observed around CANDU type nuclear power plants and other military nuclear facilities that use tritium to produce thermonuclear bombs.
The point is whether it is “accident” or “sabotage" is hardly any consolation for the actual or potential victims. And if it is “sabotage”, which could not be prevented, it only goes to show that it can happen again. And a more serious "sabotage" could have a disastrous impact with immediate and intense effects on hundreds of thousands of lives, as in the case of Chernobyl (in Ukraine of the erstwhile USSR) on April 26 1986.
A much larger fear is that with the proposed nuclear expansion very much in the cards, such
incidents are bound to become a regular feature in the future. And therefore, every nuclear power plant is a potential Chernobyl.
We are worried about the known and yet-to-be-known serious health, environmental, social, psychological and economic impacts of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy and being conscious of the inextricable link between nuclear energy and the development of nuclear weapons we demand an immediate abolition of nuclear weapons and a phase-out of nuclear energy leading to its elimination.
We are concerned about the presentation of nuclear energy as a safe and clean alternative, and as a solution to climate change when it is neither safe nor clean as it undermines climate protection by wasting time and taking resources away from more effective, clean and safe solutions. It results in the dumping of this expensive and unsafe nuclear technology throughout the world and it decreases global security as volumes of nuclear waste are disposed with no safe method of disposal.
We are alarmed at the long-term implications of the over-consumption model of development , and the failure to adequately conserve energy & resources and consequently, we demand a ban on the exploration, mining and export of uranium, phasing out of the use of nuclear reactors for the production of medical isotopes, instituting a fair and just transition programme for workers, including scientists, affected by the abolition of nuclear weapons and by the phasing out of nuclear energy and most importantly guaranteeing the rights of future generations to a world free of the danger of nuclear weapons and of nuclear energy.

Radical Socialist
December 2, 2009