Nuclear plants’ safety ‘vitally important’ after Japan crisis


New Delhi : India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said that safety of nuclear plants is ‘vitally important’ in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear crisis and asserted that future reactors in India will have to be certified by the Indian regulatory authority.

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‘The tragedy at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant in Japan has raised world-wide concerns about the safety of nuclear energy as a source of power. It is vitally important to address these concerns,’ he said.

Speaking at a function after conferring Department of Atomic Energy’s Lifetime Achievement Awards 2009, he said people have to be convinced about the safety and security of India’s nuclear power plants.

‘We should bring greater openness and transparency in the decision making processes relating to our nuclear energy programme and improve our capacity to respond to the public desire to be kept informed about decisions and issues that are of concern to them,’ he said.

Singh said he would like to see ‘accountability and transparency’ in the functioning of country’s nuclear power plants.

Asserting that government would take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of plants, the Prime Minister said he has already directed a technical review of all safety systems of nuclear power plants using the best expertise available in the country.

‘The future reactors that will be built in India will have to be certified by the Indian regulatory authority and meet its safety standards. This will apply equally to reactors and technologies that are imported from abroad,’ he said.

Singh said the government would strengthen the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and make it a truly autonomous and independent regulatory authority.

‘We will ensure that it is of the highest and the best international standards,’ he said.

Noting that India’s safety track record of its nuclear power plants has been ‘impeccable’, the Prime Minister said, ‘We cannot be complacent’.

In a reference to the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, he said the decades of nuclear isolation under which country’s nuclear programme evolved has fortunately ended.

India is now an active participant in international civil nuclear cooperation, he said adding this has brought with it new opportunities as well as new responsibilities.

‘I have no doubt that the opening of the doors of international cooperation will help us in our efforts to enhance our energy security,’ he said.

For a large and fast growing economy like India, it was imperative that it tap all sources of energy and diversify its energy mix, he said, adding nuclear energy has the potential of playing an increasingly important role in giving the country energy independence from traditional and often polluting sources of energy.

Singh said today India has fully demonstrated its capabilities in all the scientific and technological aspects associated with the design, development, construction, operation and maintenance of nuclear reactors and associated fuel cycle facilities.

Later-on the Prime Minister honoured distinguished scientists.