Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) again in the news

In January 2022 Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) signed a deal with Holtec International, a US-based firm for containment transportation tanks. A facility for a spent fuel repository is being constructed inside the KKNPP to store a small quantity of high-level radioactive waste. Such facility is called the Away From Reactor (AFR) Spent Fuel Storage Facility. The Holtec made tanks will transport the waste from the reactor site to the Spent Fuel Storage Facility.

Koodankulam has witnessed several anti-nuclear protests. Again, the anti-nuclear organizations and environmental activists show resentment against the construction of the AFR spent fuel storage facility. Environmentalists are corelating the expansion (including AFR facility) of the power plant to the health of the local people. They are digging the narrative of health hazards linked to radiation emitted by stored spent fuel in the facility as well as a potential nuclear hazard during natural calamity which are not even vaguely true.

After extensive studies, it was concluded that the AFR facility is safe and can withstand extreme natural calamities like earthquakes and floods. The quantity of high-level radioactive waste is quite small hence, an onsite AFR spent fuel facility is required instead of an expensive Deep Geological Repository (DGR). Also, the environmental protection laboratory of the plant will constantly be monitoring the radiation levels near the plant. The data resulting from the laboratory will be made available in the public domain through newspapers.

Such false narratives about nuclear energy must be reined in by the authorities. And this can be achieved through risk communication and awareness programs.

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