S.O.S e - Clarion Of Dalit - Weekly Newspaper On Web
Working For The Rights & Survival Of The Oppressed
Editor: NAGARAJA.M.R… VOL.9 issue.11…… .18/03/2015
An Underground Radioactive Waste Laboratory Coming Up In Gogi Village In Yadgir District Of Karnataka
By VT Padmanabhan & Joseph Makkolil
The spent fuel from a nuclear reactor contains highly radioactive elements with half lives upto millions of years. In India, the waste removed from the reactor every year is cooled in the spent fuel pool for about five years. After this, plutonium and the un-burnt uranium are extracted in a reprocessing plant. Plutonium can be used to make bombs as well reactor fuel. The waste from this process, known as high level waste (HLW), will contain almost 95% of the radioactivity generated in the reactor. HLW has to be isolated from the water bodies and the biosphere for millions of years. Scientists working in this field say that it can be safely kept in a deep geological repository (DGR), carved out below 500 meters from the surface. DGR is considered as a reference solution by all because there is no other solution. Before going in for a full fledged DGR, an underground research laboratory (URL) is built for undertaking studies and experiments. If no adverse event is seen during this phase, the laboratory can be expanded to a full-fledged repository. A URL can be seen as a stepping stone for DGR.
India's Radioactive Waste Repository
India would need a repository by 2030, the latest. Since it takes some 30 years for site selection, evaluation, construction and licensing, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is already late. In India, hundreds of scientists have been working on locating a suitable repository site and experimenting on ways to place the waste in the holes. They wroked in an abandoned mine at 1000 meters below in Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka from1964 and terminated the experiment in 1990, when they realized that the place was not suitable for a DGR. They claim to have selected half a dozen sites, but the details have not been released. In all the major nations with high level nuclear wastes, open discussions, consultations and negotiations between the waste generators and the communities living near the potential sites are happening.
An Underground Research Laboratory (URL) at Gogi in Karnataka
In March last year, we reported a secret move by the DAE to set up a repository (DGR) for storing high level radioactive waste (HLW) under the hills of Idukki-Theni districts in Kerala-Tamil Nadu.[i]  TIFR published a blanket denial saying that INO has nothing to do with radioactive waste. Our contention was that radioactive waste repository was a separate project, co-located at the same site. Now we report a similar effort to build an underground research laboratory (URL) in Gogi village of Yadgir district in Karnataka.
The URL at Gogi was announced by Dr AK Rai, the director of atomic mineral division's southern region in an Indo-French theme meeting on geological repositories in October 2009. A team led by Prof. G.J. Chakrapani, Department of Earth Sciences in Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee has been studying ‘Geochemical evolution of ground water in a limestone - Granite Terrain Underground Research Laboratory Site, Gulbarga' since 2011.(Gulbarga district was bifurcated in 2012 to form Yadgir district.) Beyond these, nothing else is known about this novel project.
Uranium Mines at Gogi
Gogi has some uranium deposits, estimated at 4000 tons of U3O8. DAE's atomic mineral division started drilling in 1995 and exploratory mining commenced in 2007. Soon after, the villagers started experiencing several health problems and they attributed this to the contamination of water by drilling and mining. This received extensive coverage in the Hindu, Decccan Herald and the New Indian Express. The problem became so severe by 2011 that the minister in charge of Yadgir district, Rajugowda, said that“residents of Gogi village have already started experiencing radiation- related ailments such as cancer and congenital malformation”. He appealed to the chief minister of Karnataka to cancel the mining permit. Ananth Hegde Ashisara, chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force and vice-chairman of the Bio-Diversity Board also supported the cause of the villagers. Justice Shailendrakumar, Judge in the Karnataka High Court and the chairperson of the Jan Adaalat ruled on 15 September 2012 that norms were not followed when the public hearing was conducted on uranium mining earlier at Gogi village. Responding to this judgement, in December 2012, the Central ministry of environment and forests cancelled the environmental clearance given in March 2012. The ministry said that the Gogi mining chapter is closed.
However, the district revenue administration reopened this chapter and started working on land aquisition in September 2013. This means that the project has not been shelved. Incidentally, the total estimated uranium reserve at Gogi is less than 3% of the total uranium estimated in India by the atomic minerals division. About 6 to 8 million tons of ore will have to be excavated to extract 4000 tons of uranium. This ecologically disastrous project, located on the banks of River Bhima, a tributary of River Krishna, is also economically unviable. Uranium mining we feel is only a 'cover' story for carving the URL which will be upgraded to a repository.
BARC-Mangalore University study of groundwater in Gogi
Scientists from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Mangalore University (MU) discussed the results of a study on the concentrations of uranium and radium in water samples from around the Gogi mining region in an internal meeting at Mamallapuram in December 2012[ii]  . A total of 22 samples - 18 from tube wells, 3 from open wells and 1 from the river Bhima – from within 30 km radius of the mining centre were analysed. There were three samples from within a radius of 5 km of the mining centre.
Results in a nutshell
- Concentrations of both radionuclides are the lowest in river water.
- Gogi village and Hoskeri canal samples are significantly higher than the median of all tube wells.
- Uranium and radium in the tube well of Gogi village are 375 and 178 times higher than the median.
- U and Ra in Hoskeri canal sample are 4 times higher than the median.
- The estimated total dose from U and Ra for the Gogi villagers is 1619 µSv or 1.6 mSv.
Gogi Water is Unfit for human consumption
The authors of the study estimated an internal (radiation) dose of 1619 micro-Sv (or 1.62 milliSv) from the water alone. For estimating the internal dose, one must know the total intake. Scientists say that “since site-specific data on daily intake of water by the population of the region was not available (sic), the dose calculation was performed for an intake of 1 litre a day”. Since average water intake in this arid tropic region will be about 3 litres pd, the annual dose will be (1.619x3) 5.67 mSv, which is more than the reported average occupational exposure of radiation workers in India's nuclear power stations.
Let us believe that the people in Gogi drink only one liter of water a day and that the annual dose they receive from water is 1.62 mSv. WHO's current Guidelines for drinking water are based on a “reference dose level (RDL) of the committed effective dose, equal to 0.1 mSv from 1 year's consumption of drinking-water (from the possible total radioactive contamination of the annual drinking-water consumption). WHO says that “if the RDL of 0.1 mSv/year is being exceeded on aggregate, then the options available to the competent authority to reduce the dose should be examined.”[iii] 
The internal dose to the Gogi people, as estimated by the authors, are 16 times the WHO's RDL. At this contamination level, the government is supposed to act and ensure that the communities do not receive unnecessary and avoidable exposures. The source of contamination, whether natural or human-made is not an issue. The competent authority in India is the Department of Atomic Energy and BARC is its research wing. In the paper presented at the Mamallapuram meeting, the authors say that mining has not started in Gogi and hence the high concerntration of uranium and radium in drinking may be due to the uranium ore in the underground. Licensed mining did not start, but a total of 500 holes (sum 55,000 meters) were drilled in a small area and exploratory mining had commenced in 2007.
Peoples' Health or Profit?
This study was conducted by scientists paid by the governments, using facilities owned by the government. Not by scientists employed by a multinational giant.
Apart from the presentation at Mamallapuram internal meeting of DAE, this paper was not presented in any open conference or published in any journal. We could not find the details of this study in any DAE-affiliated website either. A copy of the paper has been uploaded in Research Gate, a network of scientists by one of the authors based in Mangalore University.
Why did BARC refuse to share the findings with the communities, the media and the government? In this case, the resources required for decontaminating the water source and for providing safe drinking water is too small for DAE which is one of the richest government outfits in India. Do they expect mass desertion by people, so that they have all the land they need for mining the uranium and setting up the waste repository?
BARC-Mangalore University study of groundwater in Gogi raises this age old question of ethics in science. Are scientists supposed to sit idle over such discoveries, which will have serious consequences for the health and well being of thousands of people over several generations? Let us not forget that in the aftermath of nuclear disaster, these very same people will be in charge of monitoring the environment? Will they tell us the truth?
We also feel that URLs and DGRs must be set up in time, before the wastes accumulating in the reactor sites and reprocessing plants ‘overflow' and turn into a nightmare in heavily populated, high value areas like Kalpakam. During a year-long research, we could collect only a handful of documents on the Indian DGRs. In the issue of site characterization, all of them are vague. There should be open flow of information, discussions and debates at all levels, starting from the Panchayat to the Parliament. DAE's way of doing these things without transparency is unlikely to work in modern times. The senior scientists who lead DAE and BARC must learn their basic lessons from their counterparts in Europe and America.
A detailed 16 page paper on this topic can be read at:
INO Will Cause Major Environmental Damages In Theni: Medha Patkar
Noted social activist Medha Patkar joined hands with MDMK leader Vaiko to oppose the proposed neutrino observatory project in Theni district, saying that it would cause large-scale environmental damages.
"Nature will suffer major damages if India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is set up. Radiation from it will affect people in the area. The central government does not seem to care about the people's livelihood. The INO project will not benefit India either," Patkar said.
She said the Centre was showing keen interest in implementing the project, which has not received approval from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. No guidelines or rules had been framed for implementing it either.
"The main water resources, including Mullaiperiyar and Idukki dams, will be affected by the project," she said.
She was addressing a press meet along with Vaiko before launching a campaign against INO.
Patkar alleged that BJP government was following the same 'anti-environmental' schemes as the Congress regime, which had started the Narmada dam and Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.
She said Kerala had opposed INO and various state governments had not agreed to locate the project in their states, nor were they willing to cooperate with the Centre on it. It was against this background that the project was being started in Theni district.
Patkar alleged that the tunnel to be created for the INO, using explosives, would harm the environment in and around the district. Water springs and other water resources would get plugged, rendering the area dry.
Claiming that INO would require five lakh litres of water per day, she said it would touch 3.5 crore litres as the project advanced. The hill and forest wealth would be affected and that's why Vaiko was also fighting against it, she said.
Patkar alleged that the BJP government was implementing the same projects it opposed when Congress was in power. There were reports that a site near Madurai Kamaraj University had been selected to dump waste from INO, which would affect the Madurai district also, she said.
Vaiko said that the BJP government was implementing a scheme that would affect livelihood of people of the district and natural wealth of Tamil Nadu.
"The Anti-INO Movement is not a political movement. It is not a caste movement. It is a movement for the welfare of the people and in the interest of the people," Vaiko said.
He said a similar project in Italy had destroyed a river and people were fighting against it.
Editorial : LAW FIXING - INDIANS & INDIA SOLD OUT TO MNCs DIRT CHEAP
Are the lives of Indians Cheaper than Electricity produced by nuclear power -- Government Backing for Criminal Corporations
Recently , both houses of parliament has passed the bill “Nuclear Accident Liability Bill” , where by our learned MPs have sold the lives of Indians Dirt Cheap. The Cap of 1500 crore rupees spread over crores of Indians living near the nuclear facilities considering the population density works out to just few thousands. Even the government pays money above 1500 crore cap , it is the tax payer’s money , our own money. The Profit is made , enjoyed , siphoned off by MNC to it’s overseas office , while for their wrong doing , we have to suffer & pay money from our own pocket for ourselves. It is ridiculous.
HEREBY , WE DO REQUEST H.E.PRESIDENT OF INDIA , TO REJECT THE SAID BILL & SEND IT BACK TO PARLIAMENT FOR AMENDMENTS.
Before enacting the law on “Nuclear Accident Liability Bill” , Government of India should consider the following issues
1. The term Nuclear Accident must include the damages caused due to radiation leak affecting the employees in the nuclear facility , the people living near the facility & people affected by the effluents , scraps generated by the nuclear facility.
2. The government of India does not have any right to fix a price tag for the lives of Indians , that too cheaper than US public.
3. The Nuclear power generating companies must incorporate safety infrastructure & procedures as they do in US market , not any obsolete technology.
4. In USA & other developing countries , they have very huge , efficient social security network , vast pool of resources put in by nuclear power generating companies themselves , to take care of the affected in case of a nuclear accident . In India we don’t have that type of social security network nor matching resources , therefore ideally India must fix a nuclear liability cap much higher than US market in dollar terms.
5. Also the company must be made liable for the complete clean up of the facility & surrounding towns , villages , health care to all the affected victims on par with US market , in case a nuclear accident happens.
6. The Nuclear Equipment Suppliers , Nuclear Plant Operators together with their respective governments like USA , UK must stand as guarantors .
7. The Life Insurance Companies in India Must pay insured amount to nominees of insured in case of nuclear accidents / radiation affects in addition to compensation by the nuclear power companies . as of now many life insurance companies are not covering nuclear accidents / radiation affects.
Neither our MPs , Cabinet ministers nor IAS babus have the right to decide the fate of common people & fix a rate for lives of Indians. They are not experts in this field , they should not conclude any deals , decisions in a hush hush manner . Many scams have come out of hush hush deals . Nobody , no MP , no minister , no IAS officer has paid from his personal pocket to the victims of industrial disasters , etc. After all MPs , Ministers , IAS babus are public servants , they must just represent the voices of people , we people don’t want their personal expertise & opinions. Our Policy makers must heed to the public advice of senior scientists , experts in the field of nuclear power generation .
Ofcourse , as a result unit price of electricity will get front loaded , we may not get cheap electricity . but the lives of Indians are much valuable than Electricty. The person who benefits from cheap electricity – Industrialists does not pay from his pocket to the victims of disasters . Development not at the cost of safety & lives. This must dawn on our ill informed policy makers at the earliest . Jai Hind . Vande Mataram .
Your’s Sincerely ,
Letter To NHRC On Nuclear Liability For IAEA's Treaty
By Gopal Krishna
Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi
Sub: Human rights violations from nuclear damage - its impact on human life and enviro-occupational health
This Hon’ble Commission has been seriously pursuing the problem of “enviro-occupational health”, and has been taking “preventive” as well as “remedial” measures. It is humbly brought to your notice that there is another equally serious enviro-occupational hazard which is exposure from radioactive radiations and wastes. The issue of liability for nuclear damage is directly linked to it. The grave problem of diseases caused to present and future generations by radiation exposures is required to be addressed as it affects environment and human health and violates Article 21 of the Constitution, Directive Principles as well as “human rights” as defined under the UDHR, ICCPR and ICESCR.
2. That at the outset, the Applicant wishes to refer to the problem of exposure from radioactive radiations. The Supreme Court has looked at the entire issue, keeping in view the Directive Principles as well as Article 21 of the Constitution, and held that “life” includes right to health and medical care etc. There is no database on the records of the Government to show, to the best of Applicant’s knowledge, as to what actions the Government has taken, namely, how many persons have been reported to be suffering from exposure to radioactive radiation? How many have died? Did they receive any compensation? How many persons suffering from it are receiving treatment?
3. That the Applicant is an environmental health researcher who was invited to make submissions before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests following a written submission on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010 which is meant to pave the way for India to sign International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage, 1997.
4. That in its 25 page report on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on 18th August, 2010.observes, “When the Committee inquired from the Secretaries of Ministries/Departments of Government of India who appeared before the Committee as to whether the draft nuclear liability Bill was referred to them for their views/comments, some of them viz. Ministries of Health & Family Welfare, Agriculture, Labour & Employment, Food & Public Distribution, etc. replied in the negative. The Committee is of the opinion that Government must have sought the opinion of Ministries which are even distantly related to any provision of the legislation. The Committee, therefore, recommends that in future Government should consult all such Ministries/ Departments which are even remotely concerned with the provisions of a proposed legislation.” This Hon’ble Commission may take cognizance of the submissions of these Secretaries and direct the concerned authorities to internalize their suggestions in the text of the Bill to protect the human rights of Indian citizens and safeguard intergenerational equity.
5. That, in view of the facts mentioned above, the applicant humbly submits that the Hon’ble Commission may kindly initiate appropriate proceedings and issue directions to all the concerned Secretaries of the Central Government and relevant States/UTs with regard to the following :
How would they respond in the event of a nuclear disaster?
Do they know as to how many industries/factories exist in the States/UTs where radioactive material is used? Is there an inventory of products wherein the said material is used?
What is the total number of workers employed in the nuclear power industries and other nuclear installations?
Whether there is regular medical check-up and whether medical facilities exist for workers and communities in the vicinity of nuclear installations?
Whether there is any record of persons who died because of radioactive radiation?
How many persons suffer from radioactive radiation and whether they are receiving regular treatment for the said disease?
What steps States/UTs have taken to check/prevent occurrence of radioactive radiations and how many hospitals dealing with the enviro-occupational diseases exist in the States/UTs.
How many institutions in the country have the competence to decontaminate and how many medical, occupational health and scientific institutions can diagnose radiation exposure?
What action has been taken by the central government and the State Governments/UTs have taken to protect exposure from radiation in the future?
6. That it is submitted that this Hon’ble Commission for the purpose of collecting the above information, may also take the benefit of its experience in the case of enviro- occupational diseases which are preventable but incurable. By giving medicines, impact of radioactive radiation can be reduced and life span can be prolonged but ultimately fate of the affected person is painful death. A brief note on the issue of liability from nuclear damage and the submissions of the concerned Secretaries of the central government is enclosed as Annexure A
7. That the applicant wishes to bring to this Hon’ble Commission’s notice that India has ratified Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) but its provisions have not been complied with. India is yet to ratify ILO’s Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974 which is concerning Prevention and Control of Occupational Hazards caused by Carcinogenic Substances and Agents took cognizance of the Radiation Protection Convention and Radiation Protection Recommendation. It refers to the work done by International Agency for Research on Cancer and The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) that provides guidance on all aspects of protection against ionising radiation. Article 6 of the ILO's Radiation Protection Convention with regard to “Maximum permissible doses of ionising radiations which may be received from sources external to or internal to the body and maximum permissible amounts of radioactive substances which can be taken into the body” has been ignored. Article 7 of the Convention calls for “Appropriate levels” be fixed in accordance with Article 6 for workers who are directly engaged in radiation work and are (a) aged 18 and over; (b) under the age of 18, No worker under the age of 16 to be engaged in work involving ionising radiations and Article 8 that seeks “Appropriate levels (to be) fixed in accordance with Article 6 for workers who are not directly engaged in radiation work, but who remain or pass where they may be exposed to ionising radiations or radioactive substances.” Drafters of the Nuclear Liability Bill appear to have ignored their recommendations.
8. It is humbly prayed that this Hon’ble Commission may enquire /investigate into the problem of radioactive radiation and issue necessary directions/recommendation for its prevention and appropriate remedial steps to the Central Government/State Governments and UTs.
What if a nuclear accident happens
- BILL LIMITS LIABILITY OF OPERATOR TO RS 5OO CRORE, ANYTHING ABOVE WILL BE GOVT RESPONSIBILITY
Answers to questions on the nuclear damage bill the Centre withdrew from the Lok Sabha on Monday
What is the bill’s purpose?
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill seeks to set down mechanisms and rules for liability claims and payments that might arise because of a nuclear incident and to pave the way for India to join an international liability regime.
What kind of nuclear liability regime does India have at present?
All of India’s nuclear power reactors and nuclear facilities are owned by the central government, or by the Nuclear Power Corporation and Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (Bhavini) — both public sector enterprises. Any liability issues that emerge from incidents become the responsibility of the central government. The inter-government agreements between India and Russia under which Russia has supplied two nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu do not clarify liability issues. This has meant uncertainty over trans-boundary liability issues.
Why has the bill become necessary now?
The Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement allows US suppliers to sell nuclear power reactors to India. But the companies have been concerned about the absence of a well-defined nuclear liability regime in India. Environmental groups believe foreign companies will be reluctant to invest without a liability regime in place because they do not want to run the risk of having to compensate without a cap for a nuclear incident. Without the bill, under the existing legal regime, a company may have to encounter absolute, unlimited and non-delegable liability.
What does the bill propose?
A leaked version of the proposed bill circulated by environmental groups indicates that the government plans to cap the maximum liability for each nuclear incident to 300 million Special Drawing Rights ($460 million or Rs 2,100 crore). This is lower than the $470 million settlement in the Bhopal gas disaster.
If the claims for compensation for nuclear damage exceed SDR 300 million, an additional 300 million SDR may be available through an international convention.
The liability of a nuclear power operator (so far only the NPC and Bhavini) for each nuclear incident will be Rs 500 crore. The limit will also apply to private companies if they are allowed entry into the sector.
The central government will be liable for nuclear damage if the liability exceeds the operator’s limit.
Why has this generated controversy?
The bill has generated the widespread perception that it will allow US companies to go scot-free in the event of a nuclear accident and saddle the Indian government with the liability — in other words, Indian taxpayers will have to pay for damages. Some environmental activists are contrasting the proposed Indian cap of $460 million with the much larger $10 billion pool of funds available in the US to cover liability and provide compensation to the public in the event of a nuclear accident. Some legal experts are arguing that there is no place for a cap on liability under Indian law. Any such legislation would be vulnerable and open to challenge and could be easily struck down as a violation of the environmental jurisprudence established by India’s Supreme Court.
Will the bill really allow foreign companies to go scot-free?
A clause in the bill appears to allow the nuclear operator to have “a right to recourse” —which would mean the operator could seek assistance — when the nuclear incident has resulted from negligence on the part of a foreign supplier of a material, equipment or service. However, this would have to be reflected in written contracts between the Indian operator (the NPC, for now) and the foreign suppliers. Environmental groups are sceptical, and fear that this will not emerge in actual contracts.
How is the bill linked to the international nuclear liability regime?
The Convention on Supplementary Compensation under the International Atomic Energy Agency provides for an international fund to compensate for nuclear damage in the event of an accident. The convention envisages a two-tier system — the state will ensure availability of at least 300 million SDR, and an international fund for which all participating nations are obliged to contribute. Any country that plans to join will have to ensure its national legislation is consistent with the convention’s provisions. By enacting domestic legislation, India could join the convention and — should the event arise — also seek money from the much larger international fund, which could help India access an additional 300 million SDR.
How is nuclear liability covered in the US?
The Price-Anderson Act enacted in 1957 ensures the availability of a large pool of funds — about $10 billion — to provide compensation to people who incur damages from a nuclear accident — no matter who is liable.
Have nuclear liability claims been paid in the US?
The American Nuclear Society estimates that the nuclear insurance pools have paid a total of $151 million in the past 43 years. The US energy department has paid $65 million.
What kind of liability regimes do other countries have?
They vary from country to country. Belgium has set a liability amount of 300 million Euros, and the France 91.5 million Euros, and the UK £40 million. Germany has set unlimited liability though a financial security limit is set at about 2,500 million Euros. Japan also has unlimited liability, but a maximum financial security limit of 60 billion yen.
edited , printed , published & owned by NAGARAJA.M.R. @ : LIG-2 / 761 , HUDCO FIRST STAGE , OPP WATER WORKS OFFICE , LAKSHMIKANTANAGAR ,HEBBAL , MYSURU - 570017 KARNATAKA INDIA
cell : 91 9341820313 , 91 8970318202
A Member of Amnesty International