DAE to hold emergency exercises in Tamil Nadu villages


Chennai : The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) will next month conduct “an emergency preparedness exercise” in 11 Tamil Nadu villages that fall within 16 km of its Kalpakkam nuclear facility.

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The exercise will be conducted in the villages of Kadambadi, Perumaleri, Karanai, Manamathy, Rayamangalam, Amayampattu, Poondi, Amoor, Agaram, Acharavakkam and Porunthavakkam on Aug 24, a DAE circular said Tuesday.

The Kalpakkam campus is about 80 km from Chennai city and nearly 20,000 people work and live in and around its immediate neighbourhood.

“The exercise will simulate a postulated accident scenario and the police and district officials will perform ‘Warning and Advisory’ functions in the ‘Affected Villages’. They would symbolically evacuate a small number of villagers as a part of this public awareness and emergency preparedness programme,” the statement said.

The high-security facility houses two power reactors, a prototype test reactor and Kamini, a mini reactor for research, an enrichment and reprocessing plant and storage facilities.

This campus will soon also house four indigenously designed fast breeder reactors (FBR), being built by the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (Bhavini), the public sector arm of the DAE. They are being developed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR).

For the purpose of security, the area around Kalpakkam is divided into 9 Sectors, labelled A to I.

The Kancheepuram district administration will conduct the emergency drill, the DAE said. Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) director and Kalpakkam emergency committee chairman S. Krishnamurthy will spearhead the exercise.

On the eve of the exercise, district officials from the state government’s departments of revenue, medical, paramedical, fire service, police, state transport, animal husbandry, fisheries, forest and civil supplies will get training at MAPS from DAE.

This massive civilian training programme on how to handle nuclear accident begins on Aug 3.

“The objective of this exercise is to ensure the preparedness of the district administration and the plant management in meeting any such remote and most unlikely emergency occurrence in a nuclear power plant,” the DAE statement said.

With so many DAE units at Kalpakkam, the DAE campus authorities conduct what is known as “an Off-Site Emergency Exercise” once in two years as a part of its “Emergency Preparedness Plans”.

The last such exercise took place July 2005.