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Jaitapur nuke plant hazard study flawed, says expert

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on August 12, 2012

The project site of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant (file photo).

Eminent geophysicist Vinod K. Gaur has described as “flawed” the earthquake hazard assessment study carried out for the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant.

Gaur was reiterating his known position on the controversial project while delivering the 11th C. Karunakaran endowment lecture here.

The lecture was organised by the Centre for Earth Science Studies.

Stiff resistance

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India is planning a 10,000-MW nuclear power plant at Jaitapur. The plant has met with stiff resistance from the locals over fears of nuclear fallout in the event of a massive earthquake

A professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics at Bangalore, Gaur had co-authored a paper with Roger Bilham of University of Colorado, a renowned geologist.

He said here that the site investigation work had several weaknesses, including geotechnical findings with ambiguous implications.

The study had neglected crucial observations relating to seismicity, he added.

SIESMICITY POTENTIAL

An earthquake of magnitude of 6-plus (M6+) on the Richter scale could occur in Jaitapur, his co-authored paper with Biham had said.

“The absence of seismicity in Jaitapur in the past century is erroneously interpreted to infer that no seismicity will occur in the future,” Gaur said.

The same claim could have been made for both the Koyna and Latur regions before they experienced massive earthquakes of M6+.

The Jaitapur plant was claimed to have no active faults within five km. The Vijaydurg fault, a 35-km fault at the base of the Jaitapur terrace, is classified as inactive.

But no seismic evidence is presented to indicate when this fault last slipped. No trenching of the fault was considered necessary and no estimate of a possible quake on this fault has been attempted.

DISCUSSION AVOIDED

Gaur also questioned the claim of immunity of the site to a tsunami. The nuclear establishment had avoided a discussion on seismic safety.

“The Nuclear Power Corporation of India has invoked the expert opinion of three notable seismologists to endorse the safety of the Jaitapur site.”

Seismologists who might have other views on the issue are intimidated and silenced. Even Roger Bilham was banned from entering the country, he added.

> vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

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Published on August 12, 2012
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