(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 02, 2012
JAITAPUR POWER PROJECT
Contract with Areva must be Cancelled
On August 17, 2012, the National Committee in
Solidarity with Jaitapur Struggle sent a letter to the prime
minister, asking him that the contract with Areva for
nuclear reactors to be set up at Jaitapur,
WE are deeply concerned that both the central government and the government of Maharashtra do not seem to have paid due attention to the serious objections regarding the safety of the proposed Areva reactors and its costs raised by experts, parliamentarians, public figures and the local people.
We write to bring to your notice the following:
1) The project has not been subjected to an independent rigorous scientific techno-economic scrutiny and safety audit in the public domain. It is being pushed against the will of the local people. The 'conditional' environmental clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in November 2010 is also based on an unscientific and deeply flawed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. The NEERI, the agency engaged to prepare the EIA, is admittedly not competent on matters concerning nuclear hazards. The environmental clearance is subject to clearance by the AERB on matters concerning nuclear energy. We understand that the AERB is yet to consider and approve the design of the Areva reactor. The environmental clearance thus granted has not considered seriously the main environmental issues and hazards arising out of this project.
2) The 1650 MWe European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) of Areva is an untested design and has caused serious concerns among the nuclear safety agencies of different countries. There are reliable reports that an internal audit of the French nuclear industry has criticised Areva and Electricity de France (EDF) for the undue complexity of EPR, and that EDF itself may be planning to discontinue the EPR design.
3) There has been significant cost and time
over-runs for the Areva EPR reactors. The first two EPRs under
4) Areva is in deep trouble on the financial front, as is clear from recent statutory disclosures. The Areva group debt stood at 2.77 billion euros (3.75 billion dollars) in June 2011. Areva's operating loss for the year 2011 is more than two billion euros.
The Areva has announced major job cuts. It has
shelved the uranium enrichment plant in the American state of
Siemens, the major technology partner of Areva, has
announced its exit from the nuclear power business and its new
focus is on the alternative power sources, in line with the
decision taken by the German parliament to phase out their
nuclear power stations by 2022 in the wake of the
There are also reports that the EDF and the Areva have joined hands with a Chinese firm to develop a new reactor of 1000 MWe to replace the EPR in the long run.
In view of the above developments, it is unlikely that the Areva EPR would today pass even an elementary test of techno-economic due diligence.
5) The NPCIL has pointedly refused to disclose the
costs and resultant tariff for the JNPP. There is no
justification for hiding the costs and tariff for a civilian
nuclear power project. Our own calculations based on available
information show that the investment cost for JNPP would be in
excess of Rs 20 crore per MW, which is unacceptable. This would
result in electricity tariff of not less than Rs nine per unit
at current prices. This is not viable, and would impose very
high rates of tariff for
8) Once the plant commences operations, the vast store of spent fuel produced will be a long-term hazard. It does not appear that NPCIL has made any plans to address this issue.
In the light of the facts stated above, we are of the firm opinion that the contract with AREVA in respect of the Jaitapur nuclear power project should be cancelled.