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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

African nuclear commission takes shape.
Afcone, a new commission to coordinate and promote the development of nuclear energy in Africa, is set to become fully operational after key founding documents were finalized and adopted. South Africa has agreed to host the commission. The African Union (AU) established the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (Afcone) in November 2010, following the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in July 2009, which required the parties to establish a commission for the purpose of ensuring states' compliance with their treaty obligations and promoting peaceful nuclear cooperation, both regionally and internationally. 
At a meeting in Addis Ababa on 26 July, the elected commissioners adopted the rules of procedure, structure, program of work and budget of Afcone. The commission will focus on the following four areas: monitoring of compliance with non-proliferation obligations; nuclear and radiation safety and security; nuclear sciences and applications; and, partnerships and technical cooperation, including outreach and promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The meeting agreed to a budget of some US$800,000 per year for the period 2012-2014. It also agreed on a scale of assessment for contributions to Afcone's funding. South Africa is currently the only African country to operate nuclear power plants for electricity generation, but several others - including Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria - are considering building such plants. Namibia, Niger and South Africa are major uranium producers, accounting for about 15% of world output in 2011. Other African countries have significant uranium deposits, with some having prospective uranium mines.
World Nuclear News, 13 August 2012

Koodankulam: Clearance for fuel loading.
The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) condemns the undemocratic and authoritarian decision of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to grant clearance for the 'Initial Fuel Loading' and 'First Approach to Criticality' of Unit-1 of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project. 
Even as the country is awaiting the Madras High Court's judgment on a batch of petitions that have challenged the legality and appropriateness of the Environmental Clearance granted to the Koodankulam project, this decision amounts to contempt of court and outright insult of the rule of law in our country. More interestingly, the AERB has given assurance to the Madras High Court that the post-Fukushima taskforce's recommendations would be fully implemented in all the nuclear installations in India and that no fuel loading decision at the Koodankulam nuclear power project would be taken until then. The current permission to load fuel is a gross violation of that commitment made at the Court and the sentiments of the struggling people.
This attitude and functioning style, however, is very much in congruence with the undemocratic, authoritarian and anti-people nature of the atomic energy department. The political parties and leaders in India, especially in Tamil Nadu, the civil society leaders and the media must take a stand and protect the interests of the 'ordinary citizens' of India and reassert the rule of law in our country. 
The struggling people will do whatever democratically possible to oppose the  authoritarian and illegal decision of the Indian nuclear establishment.
Press release, The Struggle Committee PMANE, 10 August 2012

No permanent resettlement Chernobyl Exclusion zone in next 20 years.
Despite earlier reports, the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant remains unfit for habitation, said Dmytro Bobro, the acting head of the State Agency for the Chernobyl Zone. Short visits to the exclusive zone are not banned, and up to 10,000 visitors arrive there on memorial days, he said at a press conference in Kyiv. Concerning people who returned to the zone of their own accord and live there, relatives are allowed to come and see them for not more than five days, but if a longer term is requested, they are placed under radiological control, he said.
Experts said at a press conference on August 15 that part of the 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and Chernobyl itself are already fit for living. Chernobyl could be opened to personnel working under the Shelter project to construct the new confinement shelter. These people work in shifts now. 
But a few days later, Bobro said that some 200 square kilometers in the total area of 2,000 square kilometers are relatively safe. "But again, there is no infrastructure there, and the territory has "contaminated spots" and should not be populated, although it could be sown with crops to be used as biological fuel," he said. Humans could return to this territory in about 30 years. But if rehabilitation measures are taken, people would be able to come back even earlier to an area of 200 or even 500 square kilometers, he said. "Half of the exclusion zone will remain unfit for habitation forever as it is contaminated with plutonium isotopes," Bobro said.
Interfax, 17 August 2012 / ForUm, 17 August 2012

South Africa: develop 'Plan B'.
South Africa should work on a ‘Plan B’ if nuclear build proves too costly, the newly released National Development Plan 2030 asserts. The plan, which was handed to President Jacob Zuma on August 15, acknowledged that the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity proposed that new nuclear energy plants be commissioned from 2023/24. But it also argued that South Africa needed a “thorough investigation” of the implications of nuclear energy, including its costs, financing options, institutional arrangements, safety, environmental costs and benefits, localisation and employment opportunities, and uranium-enrichment and fuel fabrication possibilities.
The National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordinating Committee (NNEECCa), which was set up late last year, had its inaugural meeting in early August, when it began deliberation on the findings of a so-called ‘integrated nuclear infrastructure review’. The review is a self-assessment of the country’s readiness to proceed with a new nuclear build and reportedly covers 19 areas. But the 26-member National Planning Commission (NPC) argued that an alternative plan be developed in the event that sufficient financing was unavailable, or timelines became too tight. The NPC did not say which entity or organ should conduct the cost/benefit analysis, only that one should be completed ahead of any decision to proceed to a procurement phase. The analysis should also not be confined to the economics of the project and should include social and environmental aspects.
Engineering News (South Africa), 15 August 2012

Sellafield: record number of hotspots found on beaches.
A record number of radioactive hotspots have been found contaminating public beaches near the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria, according to a report by the site's operator. As many as 383 radioactive particles and stones were detected and removed from seven beaches in 2010-11, bringing the total retrieved since 2006 to 1,233. Although Sellafield insists that the health risks for beach users are "very low", there are concerns that some potentially dangerous particles may remain undetected and that contamination keeps being found. Anti-nuclear campaigners have called for beaches to be closed, or for signs to be  erected warning the public of the pollution. But the government's Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said "no special precautionary actions are required at this time to limit access to, or use of, beaches". But it also pointed to a series of "uncertainties" in the beach monitoring that could lead to its risk assessment being reviewed. The latest equipment might miss tiny specks that could be inhaled, it said, as well as buried alpha radioactivity that "could give rise to a significant risk to health if ingested".
Adding to the attempts to down play the radioactive state of the beaches, the official monitoring of the coast has been deliberately abandoned - at the specific request of some local authorities - during the peak periods of school and public Bank Holidays for fear of alarming the tourists.
The Guardian, 4 July 2012 / CORE press release, 4 July 2012

Defer Koodankulam commissioning

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
People's Movement Against Nuclear Power

Much has been written about the protests and the repression by the state of India against the people near Koodankulam. Although many times delayed, current plans are to commission the first two reactors in the coming months. Disconcertingly, India's new coastal reactors are situated in an environment similar to that of Fukushima -a tsunami and earthquake zone, with the addition of karst formations, geothermal irregularities, and a lack of emergency water supplies. But there is more.

It is famously said: "In public domain, truth is not the truth, perception is the truth". This adage could be related to the discourse on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. While the arguments in favour of the plant is that it will generate electric power essential for 'development', People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) say that the plant will be 'destructive' to the life and livelihood of the Project Affected People (PAP).

While the touted 'truth' -that the plant is the safest in the world- is couched in utmost secrecy, public 'perception' - serious misgivings on the safety of the Plant is out in the open. As the nuclear establishment is racing towards the commissioning of the plant this percep-tion among the PAP is increasing and not diminishing. And there are several reasons for this.

First and foremost, the project is being commissioned without any legal Envi-ronmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a fact admitted by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in a sworn affidavit filed in the Madras High Court. According to this affidavit, environmental clearance for Units 1 and 2 was given 'as early as 9th May 1989' and renewed on 6th September 2001. Since EIA Notification under Environmental Protection Act came into existence only on 27th January, 1994 and provision for public hea-ring was introduced only on 10th April, 1997 there was no need for KKNPP to go through these critical processes.

Nuclear establishment has taken shelter behind this fig-leaf to ram a 2000 MW nuclear power plant down the throat of over 1.5 million PAP without even going through the most basic process of EIA and public hearing. What is more, Nuclear Power Corporation Limited (NPCL) has been consistently refusing to share the Site Evaluation (SE) and Safety Analysis Report (SAR) with the PAP.

This forced PMANE to appeal to the Central Information Commission who in turn ordered NPCL "to provide an attested photocopy of the SAR and SE Report after severing any proprietary details of designs provided by the suppliers to the appellant before 25 May, 2012." But the NPCIL has refused arguing that SAR 'is a third party docu-ment belonging to a Russian company' and therefore 'cannot be shared with anyone'. NPCIL even threatened to take CIC to court. Obviously NPCL is more interested in protecting a Russian company (third party) than safeguarding the PAP (first party)!

In the face of such persistent stonewalling, the humble PMANE scientists dug deep and did some quality research. Result is the startling revelation that there has been a serious breach of contract and perhaps deceit in that the VVER reactor under commissioning at Koodankulam differs from the one featured in the intergovernmental agreement between Russia and India. 

According to documents published in 2006, there was no weld on the beltline (middle portion) of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV). Now AERB says that there are two welds on the beltline of the RPV installed at Koodankulam exposing it to high failure risk that could lead to offsite radiological contamination. If the reactor is hot commissioned, it will be virtually impossible to subject the vessel to a detailed inspection and remediation. From a safety perspective, the IAEA-mandated study of pressurized thermal shock has to be done before commissioning the reactors at Koodankulam.

Pure fresh water is a critical input for Koodankulam during operation as well as safety of the spent fuel. While approval for the plant was given in 1989, AERB mandated accessing of fresh water -from two reservoirs through pipelines with an on campus reserve of 60,000 cubic meters, sufficient to maintain the spent fuel pool and the reactor cores (under shutdown mode) for 30 days. These sources are not available and have been replaced by four imported seawater desalination plants with a reserve of 12,000 cubic meters of water i.e. just 20% of what was stipula-ted by AERB and that too from artificial source. This is serious breach of safety, because fresh water is the only remedy in the event of a nuclear emergency. 

All these takes us to an essential prerequisite before the plant is commissioned -mock evacuation drills in the 30 km or at least the 16 km radius of the project. This has not been done. On June 9, 2012, the Tirunelveli district administration and the NPCL officials went through some motions in the remote hamlet of Nakkaneri of hardly 300 people and claimed that the 'mock drill' was a great suc-cess. According to a fact-finding team that went to the village subsequently, on that day revenue officials accompanied by a large posse of policemen came to the village, got some papers signed and announced it as 'mock-evacuation drill'. The district administration as well as NPCL has been extremely secretive in the matter!

No EIA, no public hearing, no sharing of Site Evaluation and Safety Analysis, no natural fresh-water, no evacuation drill and to cap it all breach of contract and installation of low quality Pressure Vessel. By all accounts it is 'no-go' for the project. The least the nuclear establishment should do is to defer the commissioning process and undertake a com-prehensive review and analysis of all the fears expressed. While doing so the two cataclysmic events -2004 Tsunami and 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster- that rocked this part of the world since the Koodankulam nuclear power plant was given 'environmental clearance' should be factored in.

Heavens are not going to fall if a few hundred megawatts of nuclear power are not added to the grid in a mad hurry. Much more important is the safety of the plant in the perception of the people affected. 

Source: M.G.Devasahayam, Convener of PMANE Expert Team, 20 June 2012
Contact: Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India

People's struggle intensifies in Koodankulam

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE India

Thousands of police personnel are being posted in and around Koodankulam on May 7-8. There seem to be reliable tips that the authorities are planning to clamp down the protest and arrest all in the near future. Such a pre-dawn operation that the government usually does could be bloody as many thousands of men, women and children from several villages are sleeping around the Church at Idinthakarai where a hunger strike takes place since May 1.

In the most southern part of India, Tamil Nadu, the local population is fighting the largest nuclear complex under construction in the world: Koodankulam. Although the protest originates from the 1980's it intensified dramatically last year after Fukushima and the announcement by the government that the first of six reactors would enter test-operation late 2011. Many thousands op people took to the streets and acted continuously against Koodankulam, resulting in postponing operation of the nuclear reactor. State repression has always been harsh, but is escalating since last year, against the non-violent activities of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) (for more see: Nuclear Monitor 744, March 16 2012: Crackdown on anti-nuclear activists and NGOs)

The Indian government has announced that the first reactor at Koodankulam will go critical in May/June. More than 55,000 people have been falsely charged including for sedition. This makes a travesty of democracy.

On May 1, around 8000 people gathered at the protest grounds at Idinthakarai to declare their solidarity to the ongoing struggle. 24 Activists embarked on an indefinite hunger strike. Despite official promises, their demands about the legality and safety of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant have not been met. A few days later, on May 4, hundreds of women joined in the hungerstrike.

On May 8, another campaign started: Respect India. 'Respect India’ is a call similar to ‘Quit India’ fervently made by the ordinary citizens of India at Idinthakarai on May 8, 2012. ‘Quit India’ was a civil disobedience movement launched in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ speech delivered on August 8, 1942 at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Bombay. Gandhiji’s call for determined, but passive resistance appeared in his appeal to “Do or Die.”

India is facing a similar “Do or Die” situation today as our sovereignty, independence, freedom, natural resources, livelihood of the poor, their right to life, and the very future of the country are at imminent peril. The ruling class and their establishment care for the rich and powerful at the cost of the poor and powerless. There is no respect for ordinary Indian citizens’ life or dignity.

Just as the freedom fighters asked the colonial rulers to ‘Quit India,’ we, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy fighters, request the corrupt and communal ruling class in India to ‘Respect India,’ respect the Indian citizens’ lives, rights and entitlements.

People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy has the following demands:

* Release all anti-nuclear peace activists from prison unconditionally
* Withdraw all false charges against tens of thousands of people
*  Institute an independent and transparent national committee on hydrology, geology and oceanography of the region
* Conduct disaster management and evacuation exercises everywhere in 30 km radius of KKNPP
* Share a copy of the secret inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia in 2008 on liability
* Divulge relevant information about KKNPP nuclear waste and management
* Respect the democratic rights of people to oppose the KKNPP peacefully and non-violently.

Please, keep yourself informed (a good source is, but also at and/or, regular updates will be posted.

Organize protest, contact media, human and environmental rights organizations, social networks, politicians, locally and globally and let India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh <>, and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa <> know what you think about the issue!

Latest: It is difficult to get reliable news. The people in Idinthakarai are in a virtual prison, and cannot go out to verify. Our friends from Tirunelveli suggest that 2000 police officers, are posted in and around Idinthakarai. The fear is that the police will attempt to arrest Udayakumar and Pushparayan. But police officials claim that the 2000istrong police force were posted as a precautionary measure, and that they have no intent to move into the village. That is a bit difficult to believe. At the very least, this is war talk.

Source and contact: People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India.
Tel: + 91-98656 83735; or +91-98421 54073


Anti-Koodankulam struggle continues

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
People's Movement Against Nuclear Power

The state government of Tamil Nadu has finally succumbed to pressure by the Central government and decided to commission the operation of the two Russian built nuclear reactors in Koodankulam. It has carried out a major crackdown on the mass movement in and around  Koodankulam in southern Tamil Nadu, outrageously slapping sedition charges on several people, and arresting close to 200 people in a pre-emptive show of intimidation and force.

Over the last six months in what has been the latest phase of a more than decade long struggle, tens of thousands of residents in and around Koodankulam have peacefully and non-violently demonstrated against the government's nuclear power plans. They have demanded that their concerns over issues of safety, environmental hazards and procedural violations of the AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) be fully and properly addressed. That their livelihood and life concerns should have been so casually ignored by a government that has even resorted to allegations of 'foreign manipulation' of what is an indigenous mass movement is extremely disturbing.

The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) entered into a negotiation with the Tamil Nadu State officials on March 27, with the assistance of some credible and respectable mediators. As per that mediation, the Tamil Nadu State Government assured to release all the imprisoned people through due process and withdraw all the cases that have been registered against us.

But all the false and serious cases such as 'sedition' and 'waging war on the Indian State' have not been withdrawn yet. Instead all these cases that randomly include +3,000 people and +2,000 people are used to intimidate the local people. So people here live in fear and are very afraid to venture out of their homes and villages. We hear reports that the Tamil Nadu Government is still trying to arrest all the important leaders and functionaries as soon as possible. Furthermore, personal vendetta is being taken by the State and Central agencies on some individuals and NGOs. On March 29, a team of Home Ministry officials from New Delhi descended on Udayakumar's family home at Nagercoil and inspected the SACCER Trust's account for 12 hours both at home and again at the Government Guest House in Nagercoil. The small Trust with hardly any money runs a very small school of 217 children. [It is interesting to note that the central government's and state government's teams inspected the Koodankulam nuclear power plant for hardly a few hours, and not 12 hours at a stretch.]

On March 30, 2012, Udayakumar received a letter from the Passport Officer in Madurai that he has to return his Passport as I have criminal cases against me. [He wonder if all the politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, military leaders and businessmen with criminal record have received such a request and is approaching the court to verify this.] The Tamil Nadu Government has sent the local police officers and constables from Koodankulam and Idinthakarai etc. to their respective villages on official duty to divide the local communities by instigating caste and religious hatred and group clashes. These police men spend all their time talking to their relatives and friends in their villages spreading rumors and causing fear and concerns among the people.

The Tamil Nadu Government is also using the Rs. 500 crore package to woe the corrupt and unscrupulous elements from the local villages, divide the communities and mobilize false support for the Koodankulam nuclear power project. We would also like to highlight the fact that the KKNPP has been restarted without any kind of consent and cooperation of the local people and it grossly violates Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. The fears and concerns of the people have not been addressed in any meaningful manner by both the Expert Teams nominated by the Central and State Governments. These governments are blatantly violating the rights and entitlements of the local people in an arrogant and authoritarian manner.

The PMANE has concluded its 9-day indefinite hunger strike and has resumed its relay hunger strike on daily basis from March 28, 2012. It is not true that our struggle has been withdrawn just because we have decided to resume fishing, open the local shops and send the Idinthakarai children back to school.

On April 4 a police constable from Avaraikulam village beat up one Mr. Pathira Pandi from Koodankulam claiming the latter had asked the local shopkeepers to close their shops in support of our protest. Mr. Pandi suffered severe injuries on his face and chest. Since it is futile to complain to the local police about a local policeman, his family preferred not to file any complaint. They were also afraid of more police harassment including false cases. PMANE hears that the local police at Koodankulam are filing FIRs on every shopkeeper who does not open his shop. This is quite a new record on the Indian State's upholding of our civil rights. (a FIR is a First Information Record, a very important document as it sets the process of criminal justice in motion).

It is expected by the Tamil Nadu authorities the Koodankulam nuclear reactor will start producing in May. This will automatically lead to an increase of the protest and (most likely) more repression by the state and the need for (international) solidarity. Stay informed!

Sources: Solidarity statement for anti-Koodankulam nuclear power plant project activists - signed by 30 eminent citizens, 32 March 2012 / PMANE press release 1 April 2012 / Idinthakarai Update, 5 April 2012
Contact: People's Movement Against Nuclear Power, Idinthakarai 627 104, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India.
Email: koodankulam[at]

Or WISE India

Koodankulam: crackdown on anti-nuclear activists & ngo's

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE India

On February 29, within days of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blaming foreign-funded NGOs for instigating anti-nuclear protests against the nuclear reactors in Koodankulam, the government booked four NGOs for alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA) and froze their bank accounts. Early March, 77 NGO's were put on a 'watch list'. The State deported a 49-year old German national for 'reportedly helping the protestors' and cancelled visa from Fukushima residents.

The movement against at Koodankulam began in the late 1980's after the first rumors about possible construction of nuclear reactor in the most southern part of India.

Later the opposition united under the banner of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), an umbrella organization in which various organizations of the people have joined together to fight the nuclear plant, and have organized dozens of demonstrations, meetings in practically every village in the area, cycle yatras, seminars against the project.

After having sought action against 12 NGOs in Tamil Nadu - apart from the four facing cases for alleged diversion of funds - another escalation of the Indian government's actions took place. On March 2, the Indian government has put 77 foreign NGOs on its global watch list, making it difficult for their officials to get visas to India. The home ministry put together the list based on information from intelligence agencies and the suspicious conduct of representatives of these NGOs in the past. Top government sources said the watch list had been circulated to all Indian missions and posts with an advice to "monitor" visa requests from the NGOs - a euphemism for putting the applications through greater scrutiny that would lead to delays or rejection. Officials refused to name the NGOs, insisting this would have serious diplomatic repercussions. But it was confirmed that most were from the US and European Union.

Rather than respond to substantive issues of science and safety, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA, the ruling coalition) deployed its spin doctors to change the frame. It begins with the PM announcing to the media that India's nuclear program is being derailed by NGOs funded by the Americans. Next, an innocent and unsuspecting German tourist, Rainer Hermann Sonntag, is picked up from his budget hotel at midnight, and deported on suspicion that he was illegally diverting funds to the Koodankulam campaign. "If the behavior of our politicians was shameful, the total capitulation of our media to the police version was downright frightening", according to the independent journalist Nityanand Jayaraman. "If Hermann was guilty of illegally diverting funds to any campaign, why was the government in a hurry to deport him? The press-articles are based on anonymous sources, and unproven allegations and replete with defamatory statements." In March an already issued visa for a Japanese women from Fukushima, invited by Greenpeace for a speakers tour, was cancelled.

Meanwhile, the home ministry has blacklisted four NGOs, two of which are church-based non-profits, for violating Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA) rules. They are Tuticorin Multipurpose Social Service Society (TMSSS), Tuticorin Diocese Association (TDA), People’s Education for Action and Community Empowerment and Good Vision Charitable Trust.

TMSSS and TDA received some money from US and Germany as aid. “But we have not funded the Koodankulam protests with this foreign aid. The government has frozen our bank accounts and is trying to terrorize us with motivated campaign against the church,” says Father William Santhanam, spokesperson of the Tuticorin diocese.

From 2008-2010, Good Vision, the fourth NGO facing government action, received foreign funds through CARE India, UNDP and Oxfam for implementing post-tsunami relief work. But, according to the organisation’s foreign contribution account the last monetary activity was two years ago. The director of Good Vision, Mano Thangaraj, is an active politician and like many people active in the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE). “This is nothing but a way of terrorising leaders of the anti-KKNPP movement,” he said.

On March 5, a large group of 'eminent citizens' issued a statement on the harassment of anti-nuclear activists and the government's campaign of vilification of the  sustained popular movement against the Koodankulam nuclear plant Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has trivialized the movement, and the five months-long relay fast by thousands of people, by attributing it to 'the foreign hand', or Western non-governmental organizations, without citing even remotely credible evidence. "This is part of a growing, dangerous, tendency to de-legitimize dissent. If we reduce genuine differences and disagreements with official positions to mere plots of 'subversion' by 'the foreign hand', there can be no real engagement with ideas, and no democratic debate through which divergences can be reconciled. Absence of debate on nuclear safety, itself a life-and-death matter, can only impoverish the public discourse and our democracy. The 'foreign hand' charge sounds especially bizarre because the government has staked all on installing foreign-origin reactors and tried to dilute the nuclear liability Act under foreign pressure."

Open letter PMANE
On February 28, the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy published an open letter, saying that fisherfolks, farmers, shopkeepers, Dalit workers, beedi-rolling women and others near the southernmost tip of India, have been fighting against the Koodankulam nuclear power project since the late 1980s.

This Russian project was shelved right after the Soviet Union's collapse and taken up again in 1997. The Indian government and Russians have constructed two huge reactors of 1000 MW each without any consent of or consultation with the local people. We have just obtained the outdated Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report after 23 years of long and hard struggle. The Indian nuclear authorities have not shared any basic information about the project with the public. They do not give complete and truthful answers for our questions on the 'daily routine emissions' from these reactors, the amount and management of nuclear waste, fresh water needs, impact of the coolant water on our sea and seafood, decommissioning costs and effects, Russian liability and so forth. We are deeply disturbed by all this.

Our people watched the Fukushima accident of March 11, 2011 on TV at their homes and understood the magnitude and repercussions of a nuclear accident. Right after that on July 1, 2011, the KKNPP announced the 'hot run' of the first reactor that made so much noise and smoke. Furthermore, the authorities asked the people, in a mock drill notice, to cover their nose and mouth and run for their life in case of an emergency. As a result of all these, our people in Koodankulam and Idinthakarai villages made up their minds and took to the streets on their own on August 11, 2011. Then we all together decided to host a day-long hunger strike on August 16 at Idinthakarai and a three-day fast on August 17-19 at Koodankulam. On the 17th itself authorities invited us for talks and asked us to postpone our struggle to the first week of September because of the upcoming Hindu and Muslim festivals. In a few days' time, the chief of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) announced that the first reactor would go critical in September 2011.

So we embarked upon an indefinite hunger strike on September 11, 2011 and our women blocked a state road on September 13 for a few hours when the state and central governments continued to ignore us. The state Chief Minister invited us for talks on September 21 and passed a cabinet resolution the next day asking the central government to halt all the work until the fears and concerns of the local people were allayed. We ended our hunger strike on the 22nd but went on another round of indefinite hunger strike from October 9 to 16 when the talks with the Indian Prime Minister failed. We laid siege in front of the KKNPP on October 13-16, 2011 when the KKNPP authorities did not halt work at the site as per the Tamil Nadu state cabinet resolution. We ended both the indefinite hunger strike and the siege on October 16 in order for our people to participate in the local body elections on the 17th. From October 18, 2011, we have been on a relay hunger strike continuously. We have been carrying out massive rallies, village campaigns, public meetings, seminars, conferences, and other demonstrations such as shaving our heads, cooking on the street, burning the models of the nuclear plants etc. The morale of the people is still very very high.

There is no foreign country or agency or money involved in this classic people's struggle to defend our right to life and livelihood. Our fishermen, farmers, workers and women make small voluntary donations in cash and kind to sustain our simple Gandhian struggle. Our needs are very few and expenses much less. We only provide safe drinking water to the hunger strikers and visitors. People from all over Tamil Nadu (and sometimes from other parts of India) come on their own arranging their own transportation. For our own occasional travel, we hire local taxis.

Instead of understanding the people's genuine feelings and fulfilling our demands, the government has foisted serious cases of 'sedition' and 'waging war on the Indian state' on the leaders of our movement. There are as many as 180-200 cases on us. There have been police harassment, intelligence officers' stalking, concocted news reports in the pro-government media, abuse of our family members, hate mail, death threats and even physical attack.

Although India is a democracy, our Delhi government has been keen on safeguarding the interests of the multinational corporations and pleasing some powerful countries such as the United States, Russia, France etc. The welfare of the 'ordinary citizens' of India does not figure on their list of priorities. The central government and the ruling Congress party stand by the secretive nuclear agreements they have made with all different countries and consider us as stumbling blocks on their road to development. The main opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (Hindu nationalist party) is interested in the nuclear weapons program and making India a superpower and hence loves everything nuclear. It is ironic that these two corrupt and communal forces join hands with each other against their own people. They bend backwards to please their American and other bosses but question our integrity and nationalist credentials.

Our leaders and the group of 15 women were physically attacked on January 31, 2012 at Tirunelveli by the Congress thugs and Hindutva Fascists when we had gone for talks with the central government expert team. Now the government cuts electricity supply so often and so indiscriminately in order to drive home the message that nuclear power plant is needed for additional power. They try to create resentment and opposition among the public against our anti-nuclear struggle.

To put it all in a nutshell, this is a classic David-Goliath fight between the 'ordinary citizens' of India and the powerful Indian government supported by the rich Indian capitalists, MNCs, imperial powers and the global nuclear mafia. They promise FDI, nuclear power, development, atom bombs, security and superpower status. We demand risk-free electricity, disease-free life, unpolluted natural resources, sustainable development and harmless future. They say the Russian nuclear power plants are safe and can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis. But we worry about their side-effects and after-effects. They speak for their scientist friends and business partners and have their eyes on commissions and kickbacks. But we fight for our children and grandchildren, our progeny, our animals and birds, our land, water, sea, air and the skies.

Sources: Open Letter PMANE, 28 February 2012 / Nityanand Jayaraman at, 29 February 2012 / Hindustan Times, 2 March 2012 / Indian Express, 29 February & 2 March 2012 / "The Anti-Koodankulam Struggle and the Money Issue", by S. P. Udayakumar, Ph.D. Coordinator,  Struggle Committee People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE). March 7, 2012
Contact: Peoples’ Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), Idinthakarai 627 104, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India.
Email: koodankulam[at]

Or WISE India


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Little support for nuclear power worldwide.
There is little public appetite across the world for building new nuclear reactors, a poll for the BBC indicates. In countries with nuclear programmes, people are significantly more opposed than they were in 2005, with only the UK and US bucking the trend. Most believe that boosting efficiency and renewables can meet their needs. Just 22% agreed that "nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build more nuclear power plants". In contrast, 71% thought their country "could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years by becoming highly energy-efficient and focusing on generating energy from the Sun and wind".  Globally, 39% want to continue using existing reactors without building new ones, while 30% would like to shut everything down now.

The global research agency GlobeScan, commissioned by BBC News, polled 23,231 people in 23 countries from July to September this year, several months after Fukushima. GlobeScan had previously polled eight countries with nuclear programmes, in 2005. In most of them, opposition to building new reactors has risen markedly since. In Germany it is up from 73% in 2005 to 90% now - which is reflected in the government's recent decision to close its nuclear programme. More intriguingly, it also rose in pro-nuclear France (66% to 83%) and Russia (61% to 83%). Fukushima-stricken Japan, however, registered the much more modest rise of 76% to 84%. In the UK, support for building new reactors has risen from 33% to 37%. It is unchanged in the US, and also high in China and Pakistan, which all poll around the 40% mark. Support for continuing to use existing plants while not building new ones was strongest in France and Japan (58% and 57%), while Spaniards and Germans (55% and 52%) were the keenest to shut existing plants down immediately.

In countries without operating reactors, support for building them was strongest in Nigeria (41%), Ghana (33%) and Egypt (31%).
BBC News, 25 November 2011

Short list  for Poland's first n-power plant.
Poland's largest utility PGE on 25 November announced a short list of three sites for Poland's first nuclear plant. The utility intends to conduct more studies at Choczewo, Gaski and Zarnowiec over the next two years, with a final decision expected in 2013. Poland has signalled its intention to potentially build two nuclear plants with a combined capacity of up to 3GW. PGE plans to commission the first plant, at a projected cost of 18 billion euro ($23.7bn), in 2020-22.

Meanwhile PGE has withdrawn from nuclear developments in Lithuania and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to focus on domestic opportunities. PGE has suspended its involvement in building the Visaginas nuclear plant, near Ignalina, in Lithuania. The move ends hopes that the project will be jointly developed by Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. PGE said it suspended its involvement after analysing the offer from Lithuanian firm VAE, which is lead investor in the project. VAE plans to build the €5bn ($6.6bn) plant by 2020 next to the site of the Ignalina nuclear station, which was shut in 2009.
Argus Media, 12 December 2011

TEPCO: Radioactive substances belong to landowners, not us.
During court proceedings concerning a radioactive golf course, Tokyo Electric Power Co. stunned lawyers by saying the utility was not responsible for decontamination because it no longer "owned" the radioactive substances. “Radioactive materials (such as cesium) that scattered and fell from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant belong to individual landowners there, not TEPCO,” the utility said.

That argument did not sit well with the companies that own and operate the Sunfield Nihonmatsu Golf Club, just 45 kilometers west of the stricken TEPCO plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The Tokyo District Court also rejected that idea. But in a ruling described as inconsistent by lawyers, the court essentially freed TEPCO from responsibility for decontamination work, saying the cleanup efforts should be done by the central and local governments. TEPCO's argument over ownership of the radioactive substances drew a sharp response from lawyers representing the Sunfield Nihonmatsu Golf Club and owner Sunfield. “It is common sense that worthless substances such as radioactive fallout would not belong to landowners,” one of the lawyers said. “We are flabbergasted at TEPCO’s argument.” The golf course has been out of operation since March 12, the day after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami set off the nuclear crisis. Although the legal battle has moved to a higher court, observers said that if the district court’s decision stands and becomes a precedent, local governments' coffers could be drained.

The two golf companies in August filed for a provisional disposition with the Tokyo District Court, demanding TEPCO decontaminate the golf course and pay about 87 million yen ($1.13 million) for the upkeep costs over six months.
Asahi Shimbun Weekly, 24 November 2011

The powers that be.
U.K.: at least 50 employees of companies including EDF Energy, npower and Centrica have been placed within government to work on energy issues in the past four years. The staff are provided free of charge and work within the departments for secondments of up to two years. None of the staff on secondment in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) work for renewable energy companies or non-governmental organizations, though a small number come from organizations such as the Carbon Trust, the Environment Agency and Cambridge University.

There have also been 195 meetings between ministers from the Decc and the energy industry (and 17 with green campaign groups) between the 2010 general election and March 2011, according to a Guardian analysis of declared meetings with Decc. Centrica met ministers seven times, EDF and npower fives times each, E.ON four times and Scottish and Southern just three times. "Companies such as the big six energy firms do not lend their staff to government for nothing - they expect a certain degree of influence, insider knowledge and preferential treatment in return," said Caroline Lucas. The Green party MP asked under the Freedom of Information Act, several key government departments to tell more about staff secondments - private companies and other organisations sending staff to advise and work with the government.

Secondments also work in reverse, with civil servants going to work in the energy industry, such as a two-year secondment to Shell and another to Horizon Nuclear Power, a joint venture of E.ON and RWE npower that aims to build nuclear power stations in the UK.
Guardian (UK), 5 December 2011

Anti-nuclear protestors take out rally against Koodankulam. 
India: about 10,000 anti-nuclear protestors today took out a procession from a temple at nearby Koodankulam to this town and staged a peaceful demonstration, condemning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that the nuclear power project would be operationalised in a couple of weeks and resolved to picket the plant if work resumed. Pushparayan, Convenor of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which is spearheading the stir, said the organisation would intensify its agitation from January 1 if their demand for removing the fuel rods loaded into the reactor were not removed by that date. Earlier in the day, PMANE condemned Singh’s ‘anti-people’ and ‘autocratic’ statement on KNPP (Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project), saying it betrayed the fact that the state government’s resolution to halt work was never honoured earnestly or implemented effectively.

One of the 'leaders' of the anti-Koodankulam fight, long-time anti-nuclear activist, Mr Udayakumar is awaiting the consequences of the sedition charges that have been filed against him for his anti-Koodankulam activities. Given the number of charges he is facing ("55 to 60 cases"), Mr Udayakumar said he did not know why he has not yet been arrested. Charges have reportedly been filed against Mr Udayakumar under sections 121 and 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which carry possible sentences of life in prison or even death. But he said he was not particularly concerned. "I haven't done anything wrong or bad or harmful to the country. I am fighting for something just. So no, I am not worried."
Statesman (India), 16 December 2011 /, 18 December 2011

Saudi Arabia not excluding nuclear weapons program.
Saudi Arabia may consider acquiring nuclear weapons to match regional rivals Israel and Iran, its former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said on December 5. Israel is widely held to possess hundreds of nuclear weapons, which it neither confirms nor denies, while the West accuses Iran of seeking an atomic bomb, a charge the Islamic republic rejects. Riyadh, which has repeatedly voiced fears about the nuclear threat posed by Shiite-dominated Iran and denounced Israel's atomic capacity, has stepped up efforts to develop its own nuclear power for 'peaceful use.'

"Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran... therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons," Faisal told a security forum in Riyadh.

Abdul Ghani Malibari, coordinator at the Saudi civil nuclear agency, said in June that Riyadh plans to build 16 civilian nuclear reactors in the next two decades at a cost of 300 billion riyals ($80 billion). He said the Sunni kingdom would launch an international invitation to tender for the reactors to be used in power generation and desalination in the desert kingdom.
AFP, 5 December 2011

India: people's power vs. nuke power

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Praful Bidway

If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted to insult the people agitating against the Koodankulam nuclear reactors at India’s southern tip, he could have found no better way than agreeing to meet their delegation on October 7— only to have Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Secretary Srikumar Banerjee lecture them on the virtues of nuclear power.

The meeting was held to respond to the grassroots demand for scrapping the project. The demand’s moral force, expressed in a 12-day hunger strike by over 100 people, impelled the Tamil Nadu cabinet to ask that project construction be halted.

The delegates had to suffer Mr. Banerjee, who recently disgraced India’s scientific community. Just as the Fukushima disaster turned nasty with the March 12-14 hydrogen explosions, he dismissed its gravity. He said the explosions — which indicated severe core damage and aggravated it — were "a purely chemical reaction, not a nuclear emergency!" Nothing could have been more delusional.

Dr. Singh promised to halt work on two Russian-made reactors at Koodankulam, but immediately went back on his word. The protestors started another fast and 10,000 people besieged the plant site.

The protestors shouldn’t be treated like ignorant and misguided children to be coached and disciplined by a nanny state. Their leaders are well-informed professionals, including S.P. Udayakumar, who has taught at a US university, M. Pushparayan, a lawyer, and Tuticorin’s Bishop.

Their case is compelling. The two 1,000 MW reactors under construction were never subjected to an Environment Impact Assessment. They were cleared by the environment ministry five years before the EIA process started — without considering the intrinsic hazards of nuclear reactors

The reactors will daily draw in millions of liters of freshwater, and release it at a high temperature into the sea, affecting the fish catch on which lakhs of livelihoods depend. They are being built within a one-kilometer radius of major population-centres, violating the 1.6-km "nil-population" zone stipulation.

The reactors will routinely release effluents and emissions containing radioactivity, a poison you can’t see, touch or smell. Scientific studies covering 136 nuclear sites in seven countries show abnormally high leukemia rates among children, and higher incidence of cancers, congenital deformities, and immunity and organ damage.

All nuclear activities produce wastes, which remain hazardous for thousands of years. Science hasn’t yet found a safe way of storing wastes. Catastrophic accidents are possible in every nuclear reactor in the world, including a Chernobyl or Fukushima-style core meltdown. Twenty-five years on, 300,000 people cannot go back home because of radioactive contamination around Chernobyl. The Fukushima disaster still hasn’t ended, but the station operator is already paying out US$50 billion in damages.

A reactor is a barely controlled nuclear bomb, where a runaway chain reaction is prevented by circulating water and some safety devices. But these can fail. Lack of cooling can produce a catastrophe as the fuel gets relentlessly heated. That’s what happened at Fukushima. The reactors couldn’t withstand the Magnitude 9 earthquake, belying the operator’s claim. The tsunami knocked out the backup, precipitating a station blackout, causing a loss-of-coolant accident and meltdown.

A station blackout can occur because of any number of factors in any reactor, with unpredictable but uncontrollable consequences, including a meltdown.

PMANE activists understand this hazard. They probably know a lot more about the problems of Russian reactors than DAE bureaucrats who have failed to master nuclear technology.

Bellona, a Norwegian group has revealed a special report by Russian nuclear safety experts in June, which says  Russian reactors are grievously under-prepared for disasters. (see Checks of Russian nuclear reactors fail safety hopes - and worse, leaked report reveals:

These disclosures are damning. Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko hasn’t denied them, but merely claimed that more money would fix the flaws. The report contradicts the official Russian statement that a Fukushima-type meltdown could never happen in Russia. The DAE makes identical claims about India — as baselessly. Confronted with an informed opposition, it has stooped to maligning the broad-based multi-religious PMANE as a Church-dominated group.

The DAE also sees "the foreign hand" behind the movement. This is a bit rich coming from a department whose very survival now depends on the "foreign hand": importing reactors from Russia, France and the US — without scrutiny.

Similarly, in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, the DAE is slinging mud at the opposition, while telling people "radiation is your friend." The French-designed European Pressurised Reactors to be installed there are as problem-ridden as and even more expensive than Koodankulam’s VVERs.

It would be suicidal for India to build such nuclear projects. They will bankrupt the electricity sector and impose terrible health risks. There are perfectly sound, safe, cost-competitive renewable energy alternatives to nuclear power. That’s where the future lies.

Source: Praful Bidway is an eminent Indian columnist. Published on the South Asian Citizens Web on October 18, 2011:
Contact: S.P. Udayakumar at WISE India.

Initial succes for Koodankulam protests

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dr. Peter Custers

The struggle did not gain the same national prominence as the hunger strike waged by Anna Hazare, against rampant corruption of India’s top-politicians. Yet a landmark it surely was, - a landmark in the history of India’s nuclear program. As reported in the Nuclear Monitor 732 (September 9) a group of activists started a hunger strike near Koodankulam, in the southern tip of Tamil Nadu state on August 17. The action was directed against plans of the Indian government to commission a 1000 MW Russian-built nuclear plant soon.

From the very start it was apparent that this was not a struggle waged by a small disgruntled minority. For the hunger strike was both preceded and accompanied by mass demonstrations in which literally thousands of fisher folk from surrounding villages took part. Moreover, whereas the Gandhian-style protests were temporarily suspended in late August, they were resumed after the Department of Energy (DAE) indicated it would ignore the protestors’ demand. Then, in the second phase starting September 11, the movement peaked once more. This time, over a hundred people, including priests and nuns, went on an indefinite hunger strike in the village of Idinthakarai. Every day 10 thousand people or more would gather from the surrounding area to demonstrate their support. And every day support kept expanding, as students boycotted schools, merchants closed their shops, and gruel kitchens were set up in adjacent villages where fisher-folk refused to go out to catch fish. This time Tamil Nadu’s politicians just had to respond. On September 19, Jayalalitha, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister wrote an open letter to India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, insisting the protestors should be heard.

Jayalalitha’s move capped an initial success for the protests, which arguably are the most widespread and sustained local protest ever to have occurred against nuclear energy in India. They closely follow on the open discontent which earlier this year was registered against nuclear construction plans in Jaitapur, along the coast of Maharashtra. Both Jaitapur and Koodankulam are crucial links in India’s plans to expand its reliance on nuclear energy. But whereas the technology for the new nuclear plants in Jaitapur are to be supplied by the French company Areva, - the reactors being installed at the plants in Koodankulam are Russian in origin. They are known as the ‘VVER-1000/392’-design. Though based on a design for light- water reactors that has been in use for long, the design is a new variant. Indian scientists have for long questioned whether Russia’s VVER-1000 technology is safe. Doubts have further been fuelled by last March’s Fukushima disaster in Japan, and by the new assessments on nuclear safety made since then. In a report leaked to environmental organizations in June, an amalgam of Russian state agencies admitted that Russia´s nuclear industry is extremely vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. Some 31 security flaws were listed. The document amongst others questions the capacity of Russian reactorsto  continue functioning safely, if cooling systems fail. It also pinpoints the risksof hydrogen explosions. Sergei Kiriyenko, the chief of Russia´s nuclear coordinating body Rosatom, reacted saying the deficiencies can be overcome if only enough money is forthcoming (!). But Indian critics don´t feel re-assured. Fisherfolk in the south of Tami Nadu are also concerned that the dependence of the light-water reactors on sea water for cooling, and the flushing of effluents into the sea, will seriously disrupt the ecology along their coast.

Furthermore, Koodankulam protesters have pointed their finger at experiences gathered at Kalpakkam, the nuclear complex located close to Tamil Nadu´s capital Chennai, along the state‘s eastern coast. In fact, here the wider significance of their movement becomes quickly evident. For the Kalpakkam complex does not just harbor a nuclear power plant, but also a reprocessing facility. The nuclear fuel rods from the reactors at Koodankulam, once depreciated, will most likely be reprocessed at Kalpakkam. Yet Kalpakkam has already proven to be a dangerous hotspot. Here, in January 2003, a valve connecting a high-level radioactive liquid waste tank and a low level waste tank leaked, leading to radiation exposure for at least six employees, an unknown number of deaths, and temporary closure of Kalpakkam´s main plant. The Kalpakkam nuclear complex also holds the dubious distinction of having been flooded when the devastating tsunami of 2004 struck.

Kalpakkam hence is an additional reason for worries. Not least because of the fact that the nuclear complex harbors a test reactor constructed towards enabling India build a plutonium economy. Indian peace activists have expressed suspicions that the plutonium separated at Indian civilian reprocessing facilities will be diverted and used to increase the country’s stock of atomic weapons. These suspicions have not been allayed by recent developments. Since the beginning of this year, India boasts three reprocessing plants. Further, the US government has in principle granted the Indian government permission to domestically reprocess fuel elements from reactors to be supplied under the 2008 US-India deal. Hence, diversion of plutonium towards India’s weapons’ program is quite well possible. Again, the use of plutonium separated at Kalpakkam for civilian purposes is no less questionable.

In short, the significance of the struggle waged by villagers in the south of Tamil Nadu stretches well beyond the Koodankulam nuclear project itself. Resistance was called off after the Union Government in Delhi sent a Minister of State, Narayanasamy, to Tamil Nadu, to talk to the Koodankulam protestors. Still, it would be wrong to believe that the demand of the protestors – that no nuclear production in Koodankulam be started – will easily be accepted. For the stakes are very large, since India’s nuclear lobby has set its mind on turning India into a plutonium power. Yet because the Koodankulam project is closely intertwined with plans for expansion of the Kalpakkam complex, the struggle is bound to reverberate throughout the state of Tamil Nadu and beyond.

Late September, 10 days after the protests against the construction of the nuclear plant at Koodankulam was withdrawn, the anti-nuclear activists have said to revive the protest if the ongoing work in the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), was not suspended. The activists would embark on a mass fast from October 9, if the Central government failed to suspend the ongoing commissioning work in the nuclear plant by October 7.
Times of India, 3 October 2011

Source: Dr. Peter Custers (theoretician on nuclear production/ author of ‘Questioning Globalized Militarism’ (Tulika/Merlin, 2007), 30 September 2011