Jaitapur plant safety debate rages on

Even as Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Areva negotiate Jaitapur, debate on safety of the plant has intensified.

In the latest, December 2012, edition of Current Science, a journal published by Indian Academy of Sciences, two geologists have reiterated that while no significant earthquake has been recorded instrumentally or historically within 50 km of Jaitapur, it does not imply a severe quake cannot occur there. Vinod Gaur of CSIR-Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation (Bangalore) and Roger Bilham of department of geological sciences, University of Colorado, said data were insufficient to exclude this possibility.

"Geologically, Jaitapur meets many criteria known to be conducive to intra-plate seismicity. Tectonically, the region is in the same state of seismic quiescence and historical ignorance as Latur and Koyna were before they experienced damaging earthquakes," their paper said.

In the November 2011 edition of the journal, Bilham and Gaur had claimed an earthquake measuring more than six on the Richter scale could not be ruled out in Jaitapur. They said the probability was an important consideration in the analysis of power plant safety.

The geologists claimed the setting of Jaitapur and Latur-Koyna, where earthquakes of 6.5 magnitude have occurred in the past half century, was the same. B K Rastogi of Institute of Seismological Research (Gandhinagar) hit back in the July 2012 issue of Current Science, saying the the Bilham-Roger paper had "many errors and mis-judgements".

He said his paper was "to assure the authors (Bilham and Gaur) and readers that all apprehensions raised have been considered by geologists and seismologists involved in site investigations". Rastogi also dismissed the same setting theory. He said Koyna and Latur were in a "postulated Koyna-Kurdwadi rift", more than 50 km north of Jaitapur, and hence not in the same geological setting. At the same time, NPCIL said seismic aspects of sites had been "adequately addressed" in all Indian nuclear power plants.

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