by Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP)
The French nuclear safety regulator ASN has reported extremely serious defects in the European Pressurized Reactor being built at Flamanville (France) by the French nuclear company Areva.
The detected defects have to do with substandard material used in crucial components, the bottom and the lid of the EPR pressure vessel, the very heart of the reactor. These components cannot be repaired once the reactor goes critical.
The revelation vindicates long-standing safety concerns of independent nuclear experts and citizens’ groups especially in Finland and India where Areva is constructing or planning to build EPRs.
This revelation coincides with Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France, during which he is expected to finalize a nuclear agreement with Areva. It should force the Indian government to rethink its nuclear expansion plans.
The EPR’s design and construction have run into unending problems both in France and Finland, where the first such reactor has been under construction since 2005. Its completion has been delayed from 2009 at least till 2018, and its costs have nearly tripled.
France, once the nuclear industry’s poster-boy, has itself decided to scale down nuclear power generation by 25% and make an “energy transition” to renewable sources.
Next week (18th April) marks the fourth anniversary of the killing in a police firing of Tabrez Sayekar, from Sakhri Nate near Jaitapur in Maharashtra. Jaitapur is where Areva is planning to construct the world’s largest nuclear plant, in the teeth of strong public protests. Over the last four years, Areva has gone almost bankrupt.
Vulnerabilities of the EPR design have been repeatedly revealed; and an earthquake fault-line discovered running through the proposed Jaitapur site.
After Fukushima (2011), which revealed the inherent problems of nuclear safety, a number of countries have abandoned nuclear power.
We urge the Indian government to give up its nuclear obsession and immediately declare a moratorium on all nuclear negotiations and under-construction projects. It must respect the views of citizens and local communities, including farmers and fisherfolk, who oppose nuclear power because it threatens their lives and livelihoods.
We also ask the French government to respect human life in India and terminate the nuclear negotiations in the wake of the new revelations about the EPR.
Praful Bidwai, Achin Vanaik, Lalita Ramdas, Abey George, Kumar Sundaram.