Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My take on Jadugoda Incident

It is really shameful to note such a negligent behaviour on the part of UCIL. It's clearly because of absence of regular inspection / replacement of the pipeline / rubber-lining.

I would try to analyse this mis-hap with my understanding of such situations. First of all please allow me to explain how such a discharge actually take place in a nuclear facility.

As per AERB guidelines, before discharging a gaseous/liquid radioactive waste, it is first diluted sufficiently; so that waste concentration in the discharge becomes very less & is within such acceptable limits which does not affect harmfully to the environment (or pond as in this case). This function is carried out by the"Operation staff", "Ventillation Department" & "Liquid Effluent Segregation System" in a nuclear facility. After dilution, personnel from "Chemical lab" & "Bio-Assay lab" carry out radioactivity tests of the waste to be discharged. They report these reults to the Engineer Incharge (Operations), who authorizes the dischrge, if he finds the result to be within the limits specified by AERB.

So assuming that the person who authorizes such disposal is honest enough, the waste which was being discharged to the tailing pond must have been sufficiently diluted. And hence it will not be as harmful as it is made to appear in the media reporting.

But still I accept that although much less, the discharge is surely harmful; & general public living near to such a facility must not be made to suffer due to negligent behaviour of the O&M employees.

Regarding adherence to procedures approved by AERB, by & large I have mostly seen these procedures to be followed strictly. But yes, there are deviations sometimes,which I think can be easily corrected by sensitizing these employees (particularly senior Management, who sometimes pressurize their subordinates, due to various reasons). So I see a need to correct & sensitize the vision of nuclear employees, rather than to protest against new nuclear facilities.

Just by a small example I would try to elaborate my point of view. One of the world's worst industrial disaster - "Bhopal Gas Tragedy" - took place because of the operational negligence of a Chemical Pesticide Plant. But we never think of shutting down the Pesticide plants, or to make protest against their expansions. What we stress is to make their operations more stringent, so that civilians are not harmfully affected by the presence of such a plant.

Similiarly, regarding any problem related to nuclear industry - other than 'Handling of the Spent Fuel', I see the need of sensitizing employees, making stringent rules & demanding severe actions against smallest violations. This would properly take care of the common man, as well as benefit the national economy.

This is totally my take on this issue & I look forward to get your critical comments.

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