Since last night, July 13th, 2013, the world has become more unsecure. In South India, the first block of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant began its nuclear fission process at 23:05 local time.
Specially Dangerous Nuclear Plant
Kudankulam NPP is a special nuclear power plant, a specially dangerous one. Not only for the fact that it was built in a tsunami area. Survivors of the great tsunami of 2004 are living in a newly erected settlement only a couple of hundred meters away from the nuclear plant. Even according to Indian laws nobody ought to live that close to a nuclear installation. Kudankulam NPP is really dangerous because of faults already known. Reactors are of type VVER 1000 made by Russian company Rosatom, but also components manufactured by German companies were used. Siemens is one manufacturer to be named. The reactor pressure vessel was delivered containing welding seams, contrary to agreements. Incidentally, beltline weld is the number one safety concern for pressurized water reactor. This must not lead to immediate problems. Components of inferior quality made by the corrupt company Zio Podolsk, however could fail any time.
The greatest risk to security seems to be the wiring system. Even before it was put into operation, people were already killed. Six workers were electrocuted during cable installations by a current impulse. The IT wiring system is faulty as well. Interferences appeared during a testing period, as wires are not properly shielded. By that, steering and safety systems get faulty signals, which could start a catastrophe.
Risks Played Down
Kudankulam NPP was scheduled to go into operation by 2007. At least twenty times quality flaws forced the inauguration to be postponed. Since last December, dates were postponed month by month, usually without any reasons given. Black smoke rising from the nuclear plant accompanied by noises similar to that produced by jet-planes had alarmed the already worried population.
Union minister of state in Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanaswamy claims that the nuclear plant has been ready to go into operation since March 2011, and delays only occurred due to resistance of local population after the Fukushima incident. He is calculating the costs, caused by these delays, and blames them on the popular anti-nuclear movement. Don’t we know this pattern of arguments somehow? (Politicians here used the same arguments to quell opposition against the S21 project in Stuttgart.) Anti-nuclear activists are naming this person to be the “cruel Goebbels of nuclear industry”. (Goebbels was German Minister of Propaganda during the fascist time.)
India’s Supreme Court is playing down the risks of nuclear industry as well. In early March, it dismissed a court action against Kudankulam NPP, arguing that nuclear energy was necessary for India’s development. For public wellbeing people living close to nuclear installations had to accept “minor unpleasantness”. People living in the Fukushima area know what is meant by this. The environmental agency responsible for examining environmental risks only stated that more parks or green space were needed within the perimeters of the NPP. No joke! The rise of sea water temperatures caused by cooling water is only an issue for the fishermen’s families who fear for their existence.
Repression and Resistance
Last Friday, fishermen of Idinthakarai, a village directly adjacent to the nuclear plant, laid down their work. Police presence was already huge but increased again for the commencement of operations of the nuclear power plant. Check-points were erected on the main roads.
On July 1st, a camera team of German public television ARD, trying to report about the acts of resistance, was banned from the region. They were not allowed to travel to Idinthakarai, the centre of resistance movement. Back in March 2012, when construction works commenced after a half-year interruption, Idinthakarai was already sealed off from the outside world for several days.
The movement against Kudankulam NPP is one of the strongest anti-nuclear movements in the world. Resistance is clearly and deliberately non-violent. The state only reacts with violence and repression, as propaganda campaigns, a half-year moratorium, bribery, and commissions of experts could not break resistance. State violence already claimed two human lives: Sayaham Francis was fatally injured by a low-flying airplane during a gathering on the beach. During a demonstration Anthony John was shot dead by police.
Anti-nuclear activists are portrayed as dangerous instigators, traitors, and enemies of the state, they are criminalized as terrorists and covered with legal cases. But weapons used are limited and unlimited hunger-strikes, blockades of railroad, road, and sea traffic, walkouts, strikes, election boycotts and peaceful demonstrations on land, on the beach, as well as in and on the water. Possibly, information and education work are their strongest weapons.
Today, representatives of three southern districts of Tamil Nadu are gathering in order to discuss further activities. National and international solidarity can help them.
Shut down nuclear facilities and nuclear profiteers – worldwide!