Power starving world took shelter under the umbrella of nuclear plants. The idea sprang from the energy released by atom bombs. It is very difficult to have a nuclear war. Prof. Warner revealed in Madurai Kamraj University that even a limited nuclear war would instantly kill 1000 million people. 3000 million would die of starvation. The smoke would cover sun bringing temperature to 15 to 20 degrees. Ozone layer would be depleted. The radioactive clouds would travel all over the world & the world would be full of disabled persons. A little bigger warfare would finish the world. All problems would be over.
The people became wiser. They channeled the atomic power into energy through atomic plants little knowing that the radiation from these plants would be as hazardous—even more—as that from ultraviolet rays of the sun. Man cannot gain immunity from it. The plants are good only till they do not let radioactive fumes come out. It may come at intervals affecting animal world including man, and poison food too.
The developed countries started the plants, as they wanted more energy for their luxurious and wanton life. As soon as they realized the hazards of these plants they propagated the usefulness of the plants in developing countries. Being misled by the West many third world countries purchased the plants from the former. The West started dismantling their own—but only after the serious leakage at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986. 1, 35,000 persons had to be moved to safer places within two and a half hours. Soviet academicians laid responsibility on incompetence and irresponsibility. But Arthur Purcell reminded the world that it was “another example of technology’s limit in serving humanity.”
Besides the death of a large number of people the radioactive particles spread to Germany and polluted the atmosphere in Poland, Austria and France. Thousands of tonnes of milk and vegetables had to be destroyed. Radio activated cattle too were killed and their meat destroyed. The seriousness of the nuclear plant pollution can be estimated from the fact that since 1957 more than 4000 accidents have taken place.
To recapitulate a few-Ural Mountains in Russia in 1957-58, UK in 1957, USA in 1961, Luceans Vad in Switzerland in 1969, Russia in 1974, USA again in 1975 and 1979, Tsuruga in Japan in 1981, Buenos Aires in Argentina in 1983, Oklahowa in USA in 1986, Three mile Island in USA in 1979 continuing up to 1987. Another study reported other 151 accidents in 14 countries between 1971 and 1984. A private body in USA reported 3000 accidents in Nuclear Power Projects in the USA in 1985 and 2,300 in 1984 besides 750 emergency shut downs in 1984.
It looks rather strange that even after so many accidents polluting the world atmosphere there are still near about 450 nuclear plants supplying electricity to 26 countries. France tops the list with 70% dependence on nuclear power. USA comes next from the bottom with 18%. The former USSR had 41 plants for its 11% nuclear power generation.
Dr. David Lilienthal who initiated the first Atomic Power Station in the world is again the first to question “the moral right to promote and sell such a complicated immature and fundamentally unsafe nuclear system”. One of the problems of the NPPs is that there is radioactive waste that remains pollutant.
According to Dr. Dhirendra Plutonium 239 remains active for 24,300 years and PU 242 for 3,79,000 years. Who can manage this waste for such a long period covering so many millenniums? 3000 tonnes of radioactive waste of Indian Rare Earths in Kerala was dumped into the Arabian Sea in the 60s it has also contaminated Periyar river. It has resulted in the death of 20,000 people with cancer in Kerala—twice the national average.
In India there have been accidents and leakage at Tarapur exposing 3,000 workers. Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam and CANDV the NPP of Rajasthan also faced the same problem. There were lapses of safety at Narora, Kakrapar, Kaiga and Nagarjunsagar plants too. Sugatha Kumari the well-known Malayalam poetess and many other luminaries formed a group that came to the conclusion that “The radiation hazard was intrinsic to and inseparable from atomic power generation, as irrespective of their design and construction all reactors were liable to routinely release radioactivity and harmful radio-nuclides.” Even after this warning the clout of Indian nuclear scientists has been making efforts to have more nuclear plants.
It is good that the movement against this most hazardous pollutant is gaining grounds in the USA and some European countries. About 600 orders for atomic reactors were cancelled. Some of the states in the USA have banned commissioning of existing plants too. In India there is no organization to investigate. The affected workers are dismissed and new ones are appointed.
Let us hope that some non-government organization in India too would force the government to put an end to these most hazardous pollutant projects, and to have energy give importance to the plants based on sea waves, wind and sun rays that are non-pollutant.