[Marxism] Indo-US Nuclear Deal: Ill-Effects of Nuclear Technology

Sukla Sen suklasenp at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Oct 15 04:50:51 MDT 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ramana highlights ill-effects of nuclear technology
NT Staff Reporter
Panaji, Oct 14 Dr M V Ramana, fellow of the Centre for
Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and
Development, Bangalore, going into the bad effects of
nuclear technology, said that nuclear power is
costlier than other sources of power and added that
generation of nuclear power is susceptible to
catastrophic accidents like in the Chernobyl fiasco.
He further said that nuclear power generation produces
radioactive waste which is hazardous to human health
and that nuclear power is closely linked to weapons of
mass destruction.
Dr M V Ramana who was in Goa to attend a conference on
nuclear energy was addressing a joint press conference
with Mr Christopher Fonseca of the All India Trade
Union Congress. Both are also members of the national
co-ordination committee of the Coalition for Nuclear
Disarmament and Peace (CNDP).
Dr Ramana said that nuclear reactors have proven to be
more costly to build than coal or gas-based power
plants of the same capacity. Heavy water used in
reactors, is very expensive to produce and each
reactor requires several hundred tons of that
substance. Because of these capital costs, even though
fuelling expenses are lower in nuclear reactors, on
the whole nuclear electricity is more expensive than
thermal power.
Dr Ramana said imported reactors will be even more
expensive. The current costs of light water reactors
that might be imported from the US or France if the
present nuclear deal goes through is about $ 2000 to $
3000 per kilowatt of capacity. That is the “overnight
construction cost” or the cost without including
interest charges, he said.
Thus, a 1000-megawatt reactor would cost $ 2 or $ 3
billion or Rs 8,000-12,000 crores as per the current
dollar exchange rates. Since the reactor construction
could take five or six years at the very minimum,
there would be substantial interest charges that would
accrue, he said.
Just the capital cost of the reactor would cause the
tariff to be above Rs 4 or Rs 5 per unit of
electricity. Like the Enron power plant, this will
also be unaffordable to the consumer, Dr Ramana said.
He said nuclear reactors are also susceptible to
catastrophic accidents like the one in Chernobyl due
to which around 34,000 cancer deaths have occurred and
will occur over the next few decades. He also said
that nuclear power is closely linked to nuclear
Though countries initially vow to use nuclear energy
for peaceful purposes, they change their stand and
later produce nuclear weapons, Dr Ramana said. He said
other countries having nuclear energy and weapons, is
not a justification for India going in for nuclear
energy and weapons. He however said the CNDP is for
the global disarmament of nuclear weapons.
When asked what is the alternative to nuclear energy,
Dr Ramana said energy should be based on a broad range
of renewable and non-renewable sources and may vary as
local conditions permit. He said while coal is the
cheapest source of energy, other sources include gas
and hydropower. He debunked the theory that nuclear
energy is the answer to climate change.
Talking about the Indo-US nuclear deal, Dr Ramana said
it is not really a deal but a quid pro quo. The US
wants India as a strategic ally as the Bush
administration is interested in the old fashioned
balance of power to check the growing influence of
China in the region. “It’s not really a deal about
nuclear energy but about strategic interests of the
US,” Dr Ramana said.

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