Apparently there has been a proposal that our country’s plans for future energy requirements, has, among its options, included nuclear generation also as an alternative to fossil fuels (coal and petroleum).
In an open letter to the President, Emeritus Prof. Dharmadasa (Sheffield), has extensively cautioned against any precipitate action in pursuing the nuclear option for Sri Lanka. His is a voice to be heeded. He has, comprehensively supported his viewpoint. The basic points are:
1. It is a fallacy to regard nuclear as a “Green or Renewable Energy”
2. The installation costs are beyond our means.
3. Technically qualified and expert operators are required and we do not have them. Competence and discipline are imperative.
4. Nuclear accidents are difficult to handle. Corrective measure are urgent and costly. Large areas have to be abandoned and remain so for decades (or even centuries or millennia) before they can be safe again. Major accidents have already occurred, Three Mile Island (USA), Sellafield (formerly Windscale) (UK), Chernobyl (USSR/Ukraine) and Fukushima (Japan). Damage to plants can be triggered by Cyclones, Typhoons, Hurricanes, Tidal Waves, Earthquakes and Tsunamis.
In a telling remark, Professor Dharmadasa makes reference to the fact that German Chancellor Angela Merkel (herself a Ph.D in Physics,) decided to close down all seventeen operational nuclear Power Plants in the country, following the Fukushima accident.
5. Nuclear fuels are expensive and demand special safety protocols.
6. Nuclear waste is difficult to dispose of. If buried, they require heavy, concrete “Sarcophagi”. Even then, the land cannot be farmed or inhabited for a very long time.
7. Symptoms or illnesses (like cancer), show features suggestive of exposure to Nuclear Radiation.
These are very valid reasons for older installations in rich countries, to be abandoned as reliance on nuclear energy is no longer seen as an option or even for long established facilities to be retained. No new installations would be considered by them.
India meanwhile, have operating nuclear power plants in the South (Kalpakkam and Kundalkulam). Hopefully, this would not cause problems for us. On the other hand, would they have surplus power which we could buy?.
In regard to the difficulty in handling a nuclear accident,we have an experience which may be indicative. In Seeduwa on the Negombo/Colombo Road was the Milko Powdered Milk Factory. This caught fire sometime in the late seventies. The destruction was horrendous and lasted for days. Needing to pass this site, virtually daily, I could see it smoldering for weeks. There were many Fire Trucks standing by, apparently inactive. I was prompted to ask why they remained inactive, and was given the shocking answer “There is no water available for the Fire Hoses”.
Tells us something about the suitability of Nuclear Plants for us, Does it not?