Hello, fellow ISC members,
Yes, I am in favor of the motion that nuclear energy is a safe bet and India should steadily expand its nuclear potential. I present the following facts and analysis to justify my stand and I would also try to revert the apprehensions of my fellow ISC members in favor of Nuclear energy and would help them shed their doubts over nuclear reactors.
First of all, let me tell that why shouldn't we panic after the Fukushima incident. After the devastation at the Fukushima nuclear power station, due to the massive Tsunami that hit Japan, the Thirty-one countries operating nuclear power stations ordered safety review of their power plants, and so did India. In fact, Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission addressed all the safety concerns as far as the 20 Indian reactors are concerned, and he assured the Indian people that our nuclear reactors are cent percent safe. Anything that occurred at Fukushima does not even have a faint possibility of recurrence at any of our nuclear reactors, because of the basic difference between Fukushima reactors and our 20 reactors. The Fukushima reactor was situated close to the ocean to ease its access to water, the material used as coolant in the Fukushima power plant. But all our reactors use Hard water ( Di Deuterium oxide) as the primary coolant. So none of our reactors are situated that close to the sea.
Now I would statistically examine the safety of nuclear power plants. Till date there only have been three major nuclear accidents, the Three Mile Island accident, The Chernobyl disaster and the recent happenings at Fukushima nuclear station. In the Three Mile Island accident only one person was contaminated and no one was harmed. The Chernobyl disaster was a result of the operation in unstable operating regimes, which has now been banned and there have been strict safety regulations after that disaster and today's nuclear reactors are designed specifically to avoid that unstable condition. . The explosion that took place in Fukushima nuclear station wasn't in fact a nuclear explosion rather it was a series of Hydrogen explosions that took place there. Also the event can not be compared to Chernobyl disaster because the energy release wasn't from any nuclear fissure. Now the facts speak for themselves. These are the only major accidents to have occurred in over 14,400 cumulative reactor years. We have seen many accidents at thermal power stations, oil refineries, hydel-power stations etc., their frequencies and enormities have been very large as compared to nuclear accidents. Today's nuclear power plants are really very robust and the strict guidelines have only made them safer.
Now I come to the third and the most important point- our energy needs. At the rate with which we are burning fossil fuels, the reserves of fossil fuels are expected to be diminished soon. Consider this, at the current consumption rates, the depletion times for oil, coal and gas are approximately 35, 107 and 37 years, respectively. This means that coal reserves are available up to 2112, and will be the only fossil fuel remaining after 2042. So we need to find out newer fuel alternatives, but the million dollar question is that, what could be our alternatives? Solar energy is currently expensive to harness and the amount of energy generated is too less. Hydel energy has its problems too, it depends on the geographic factors and dams have their own ecological drawbacks. And all other alternate energy ideas are only in their preliminary stages like bio fuel and fuel cells. Nuclear power is the only cost effective and feasible option. Also the nuclear energy generation is an environmentally clean process, there no emission of any kind of greenhouse gases or any dangerous gases. Also nuclear fuel on burning produces no exhaust. Nuclear fuel is cheap and unlike the global oil prices trends nuclear fuel is absolutely stable and India would not have to depend on any country to satisfy its fuel needs. Imagine how much of India's resources can be saved if India is self sufficient in energy sector. The common man is already burdened by the rising oil prices; nuclear fuel will relive people of the high fuel prices. Also, India has large thorium reserves, India can be a potential fuel exporter and Indian economy will advance in leaps and bounds once this happens. Imagine, the status enjoyed today by Arab countries due to their oil might one day be enjoyed by India. Which patriotic Indian wouldn't wish this for India?
So we ultimately need to accept nuclear energy as the replacement to fossil fuels and if India acts smartly it can be the world's next powerhouse. Though safety is as important, but technological advancements will make nuclear energy generation safe. Mankind has had doubts in every invention and discovery in its initial stages, be it aviation, electricity, motor-vehicles etc. but our scientists and inventors have always thought new and safer innovations, similar will be the case with nuclear energy generation.
"With silence comes peace. With peace comes freedom. With freedom...comes silence."