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Cybersecurity breach at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) undetected for over 6 months

Breach at Kudankulam nuclear plant may have gone undetected for over six months: By Nirmal John, , ET  Nov 25, 2020

The cybersecurity breach at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) may have remained undetected for more than six months, reveals a report from Singapore-based cybersecurity firm Group-IB.

Experts from Group-IB, who discovered and analysed an archive containing dtrack, a remote-administration tool attributed to North Korean group Lazarus, says that analysis “revealed that the logs contained data from a compromised machine running Windows that belonged to an employee of the Nuclear P ..

The report, Hi-Tech Crime Trends 2020/2021, further reveals that “all the files in the archive were compiled at different times, but the main file with the compromised data is dated January 30, 2019, i.e. more than six months before they were detected. This suggests that the hackers remained unnoticed in the victim’s network for a long time.”……..
Besides the attack on KKNPP, there may have been two other cyberattacks on nuclear installations last year globally, according to the report. One being an attack on Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, which provides as much as 30% of that country’s power supply. The attack was believed to have been perpetrated by the same North Korean group, Lazarus.
The second attack was one which, it is believed, was mounted by Israel on Iran’s largest uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz and caused a fire  ………..https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/breach-at-kudankulam-nuclear-plant-may-have-gone-undetected-for-over-six-months-group-ib/articleshow/79412969.cms

November 26, 2020 Posted by | India, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby gets its tentacles into education in India

Shiv Nadar School Hosts Virtual Boot Camp on Nuclear Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability, India Education Diary
By India Education Diary Bureau Admin -November 11, 2020,
Noida: Shiv Nadar School, Noida, (a not-for-profit initiative of the Shiv Nadar Foundation in K12 education) organized the first-of-its-kind Energy Boot Camp as part of its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program to bring awareness about clean energy, climate change and sustainability.The Boot Camp was organized virtually in association with the Indian Youth Nuclear Society (IYNS), from November 6 to 8, 2020 and witnessed participation from around 2000 students (Grade 6 to 12)…….. https://indiaeducationdiary.in/shiv-nadar-school-hosts-virtual-boot-camp-on-nuclear-energy-climate-change-and-sustainability/

November 12, 2020 Posted by | Education, India | Leave a comment

China-India competition is not likely to lead to a nuclear weapons exchange

October 30, 2020 Posted by | China, India, politics international | Leave a comment

Cybersecurity concerns about India’s nuclear reactors

SCALING UP THE CYBERSECURITY OF NUCLEAR SYSTEMS IN INDIA, CYBERSECURITY LATEST NEWS Analytics Insight,by Astha Oriel October 18, 2020  India is amongst the top five countries facing cyber threats and targeted attacks.

The world is divided to possess nuclear power. Countries like the USA and Iran, are already waging war against each other for nuclear power. Moreover, having an advanced nuclear system is important for the national security. Hence, countries are spending billions of dollars for gaining momentum in their nuclear plans.

But as nuclear power is proving to be authoritative, the nuclear system is becoming prone for cyber attacks. Over the past twenty years, five deadly cyberattacks compromised the national security in five countries. Not only affecting the internal security of any country, but cyberattacks has proven perilous for the privacy of the citizens. As new technological innovations are permeating the industry, the incidence of security breaches, and possibility of cyberattacks has heightened. That’s why scaling up cybersecurity in nuclear institutes and models, become important.

cybersecurity breach has several implications. Due to a cyber malware, the confidential documents associated with cyber security can be leaked. It can increase the vulnerabilities of nuclear systems. With a disrupted nuclear system, the adversaries can take advantage in corrupting the communication, and preventing the flow of information. Moreover, cyber attacks are a direct threat to the integrity of any nation.

Policies associated with Cybersecurity

In India, many measures are taken to improve cyber security in the nuclear system. For example, in 2013, the department of Electronics and Information Technology created National cyber security policy, to mitigate the incidences of cyber attack. The government has announced setting up of Defence Cyber Agency, for battling cyber warfare and cyber infiltration in India’s defense Network. The Country also has a National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) in collaboration with Cyber Intelligence and Cyber Counter Intelligence to prevent cyber attacks.

Cyber Attacks in India

Many incidences of cyber breaches have challenged the national security of India. According to a report by Symantec, India is amongst the top five countries facing cyber threats and targeted attacks.

In September 2019, the cyber attack at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant only exposed the dearth of cyber-security management in India. The attack was caused by DTRACK Virus, which was developed by a group of hackers from North Korea. It was a direct attack to the administrative framework of India, and was confirmed by ISRO. The confidentiality of large amount of data was threatened due to this attack. Moreover, it also highlighted the lack of coordination in the administrative framework of the country.

Snowden Leaks was another cyberattack, after which the need to scale up cybersecurity was recognized in the country. It is reported that in Snowden Leaks, the US National Security agency (NSA), was spying the Indian citizens. Though no concrete proof was presented, but it made the government to take the cognizance of this incident and drafted the 2013 policy, which became the pillar for public and private infrastructure…….  https://www.analyticsinsight.net/scaling-cybersecurity-nuclear-systems-india/

 

October 19, 2020 Posted by | India, safety | Leave a comment

India’s young anti-nuclear protestors still in trouble, police cases pending, 10 years after teir demonstration

October 13, 2020 Posted by | India, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

India test-fires new version of nuclear capable Shaurya missile

India test-fires new version of nuclear capable Shaurya missile, DECCAN CHRONICLE. | AKSHAY KUMAR SAHOO
Oct 4, 2020,   Bhubaneswar: India on Saturday successfully test-fired indigenously developed hypersonic nuclear-capable Shaurya missile, an advanced version of Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) K-15 (B-05).

The test was carried out by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from a defence facility off Odisha coast, said reports…..

The test-flight of Shaurya missile comes just a couple of days after the country successfully test-fired an extended range version of surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile BrahMos off Odisha coast.  ….. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/041020/india-test-fires-new-version-of-nuclear-capable-shaurya-missile.html

October 6, 2020 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Near to flaspoint – disputes between India, Pakistan,China

October 1, 2020 Posted by | China, India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tsunami risk for nuclear reactors on coastlines of India and Pakistan

Nuclear plants in Arabian Sea face tsunami risk  https://phys.org/news/2020-09-nuclear-arabian-sea-tsunami.html, by SciDev.Net, 21 Sep 20,  A major tsunami in the northern Arabian Sea could severely impact the coastlines of India and Pakistan, which are studded with sensitive installations including several nuclear plants, says the author of a new study.

“A magnitude 9 earthquake is a possibility in the Makran subduction zone and consequent high tsunami waves,” says C.P. Rajendran, lead author of the study, which was published this September in Pure and Applied Geophysics.

“Our study is a step towards understanding the tsunami hazards of the northern Arabian Sea,” says Rajendran. “The entire northern Arabian Sea region, with its critical facilities, including nuclear power stations, needs to take this danger into consideration in hazard perceptions.”

Atomic power stations functioning along the Arabian Sea include Tarapur (1,400 megawatts) in India’s Maharashtra state, Kaiga (being expanded to 2,200 megawatts) in Karnataka state and Karachi in Pakistan (also being expanded to 2,200 megawatts). A mega nuclear power plant coming up at Jaitapur, Maharashtra will generate 9,900 megawatts, while another project at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat may be shelved because of public opposition.

Nuclear power plants are located along coasts because their enormous cooling needs can be taken care of easily and cheaply by making using abundant seawater.

“Siting nuclear reactors in areas prone to natural disasters is not very wise,” says M.V. Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and Director, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, tells SciDev.Net. “In principle, one could add safety systems to lower the risk of accidents—a very high sea wall, for instance. Such safety systems, however, add to the cost of nuclear plants and make them even more uncompetitive when compared with other ways of generating electricity.”

“All nuclear plants can be subject to severe accidents due to purely internal causes, but natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and storm surges make accidents more likely because they cause stresses on the reactor that could lead to some failures while simultaneously disabling one or more safety systems,” says Ramana, who has worked extensively on nuclear energy.

Rajendran and his team embarked on the study after noticing that, compared to peninsular India’s eastern coast, tsunami hazards on the west coast were under-recognized. This despite the 8.1 magnitude earthquake that occurred in the Makran subduction zone in 1945.

The study relies on historical reports of a major disturbance that struck the coast of western India in 1524 that was recorded by a Portuguese fleet off Dabhol and the Gulf of Cambay, and corroborated by geological evidence and radiocarbon dating of seashells transported inland which are preserved in a dune complex at Kelshi village near Dabhol.

Modeling carried out by the team produced results suggesting that the high impact in Kelshi could have been generated by a magnitude 9 earthquake sourced in the Makran subduction zone during the 1508 —1681 period, says Rajendran. Subduction zones occur where one tectonic plate slides over another, releasing seismic energy.

As per radiocarbon dating of the shells, the inundation may have occurred during 1432—1681 and overlaps the historical reports of major sea disturbances in 1524 that were recorded by a Portuguese fleet of 14 ships led by Vasco da Gama, the man who discovered the sea-route between India and Europe.

A future mega-tsunami originating in the Makran subduction zone could not only devastate the coasts of Iran, Pakistan and Oman but also the west coast of India, says Rajendran, adding that alternate offshore quake sources are yet to be identified in the Arabian Sea.

The larger Indian Ocean features another tectonically active tsunamigenic source—in the Andaman-Sumatra region where the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami occurred. “The next tsunami, after our experience in 2004, will likely be on the west coast,” says Rajendran.

The 2004 tsunami claimed more than 250,000 lives and devastated the beaches of Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, and claimed lives as far away as Yemen, Somalia and South Africa. Significantly, an atomic power plant at Kalpakkam, on the coast of India’s south-eastern, Tamil Nadu state, was flooded.

Earlier studies, such as the one published in 2013 in Geophysical Research Letters, have indicated that tsunamis, similar in magnitude to the one caused by the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, could occur at the Makran subduction zone where the Arabian plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian plate by about 1.5 inches per year.

According to the 2013 study, the Makran is a wide-potential seismogenic zone that may be capable of generating a very significant (greater than 8.5 in magnitude) tsunamigenic earthquake that poses risks to the coastlines of Pakistan, Iran, Oman, and India.

Vinod Menon, a founder member of India’s National Disaster Management Authority tells SciDev.Net that the new study “raises pertinent questions on the seismic and tsunamigenic risks from a potential rupture of the Makran subduction zone.”

“The tsunami risk and vulnerability of the west coast has not received adequate attention in spite of a history of occurrence in the past as curated by the authors as well as previous studies,” says Menon, who adds that it is worth noting that there are far more sensitive installations around the northern Arabian Sea than in the Andaman-Sumatra region.

Ramana says that such studies serve as a warning against the risks and costs of setting up nuclear power plants in seismically vulnerable areas. “A decade after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima, the prefecture retains radioactive hotspots and the cost of clean-up has been variously estimated to range between US$20 billion and US$600 billion.”


 

September 22, 2020 Posted by | India, Pakistan, safety | Leave a comment

The impediments to India’s nuclear power dream

India’s Ambitious Nuclear Power Plan – And What’s Getting in Its Way, The country has an ambitious three-stage nuclear power production plan. The Diplomat,  By Niharika Tagotra, September 09, 2020  As India embarked on its commercial nuclear power production in 1969, its nuclear power program was conceived to be a closed fuel cycle, to be achieved in three sequential stages. These stages feed into each other in such a way that the spent fuel generated from one stage of the cycle is reprocessed and used in the next stage of the cycle to produce power. This kind of a closed fuel cycle was designed to breed fuel and to minimize generation of nuclear waste. The stage at which India is currently at in its nuclear power production cycle will be a major determinant of the future of nuclear power in India. 

The three-stage nuclear power production program in India had been conceived with the ultimate objective of utilizing the country’s vast reserves of thorium-232. It is important to note that India has the world’s third largest reserves of thorium. Thorium, however, cannot be used as a fuel in its natural state. It needs to be converted into its usable “fissile” form after a series of reactions. To aid this and to eventually produce nuclear power from its thorium reserves, Indian scientist Dr. Homi J. Bhabha drew the road map of the three-stage nuclear program.
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In the first stage, Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) will be used to produce energy from natural uranium. PHWRs do not just produce energy; they also produce fissile plutonium (Pu)-239. The second stage involves using the indigenous Fast Breeder Reactor technology fueled by Pu-239 to produce energy and more of Pu-239. By the end of the second stage of the cycle the reactor would have produced more fissile material than it would have consumed, thus earning the name “Breeder.” The final stage of the cycle would involve the use of Pu-239 recovered from the second stage, in combination with thorium-232, to produce energy and U-233 — another fissile material — using Thermal Breeders. This production of U-233 from thorium-232 would complete the cycle. U-233 would then be used as fuel for the remaining part of the fuel cycle………
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While India has successfully completed the first stage of its nuclear fuel program, the second stage is still in the works and has taken much longer than expected. The first 500 MW Pressurized Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) BHAVINI, being set up in Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu, is still in the process of being commissioned and has suffered from significant time and cost overruns. It is expected to be ready by 2022-23, with an estimated total cost of a whopping 96 billion Indian rupees………….
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the future of nuclear energy in India looks less promising than it did about a decade ago. With the signing of the India-U.S. nuclear deal in 2008 and other important agreements with France and Japan, India’s nuclear energy sector looked set for a promising overhaul. However, post- 2011, there has been an evident slowdown in the country’s nuclear energy sector.
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The observed slowdown and the below par level of contribution of nuclear energy to India’s total energy mix can be attributed to a slew of factors. A primary reason has been the delays in rolling out the second stage of the nuclear fuel program. Technological problems arising in the process of commissioning the PFBR and the associated time and cost overruns have contributed significantly to the delay. Other factors involve the critical disruptions that renewable energy technologies have caused in the global energy systems. With the commercialization and enhanced use of renewable energy technologies, the per unit cost of electricity produced from renewables has gone down significantly. The cost of solar power in India right now is Rs 2.62 per unit, almost half of the per unit cost of electricity being produced by the recently operational Kudankulam nuclear power plant (Rs 4.10 per unit).
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Additionally, the nuclear power sector in India has witnessed its share of controversies and protests over issues of land ownership, location, as well as the safety and security of power plants in the event of natural or man-made disasters. These have also contributed to the time and cost overruns of India’s nuclear power projects. Another very important contributing factor to the state of nuclear energy in India has been the global retrenchment in the sector following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011. That event led to a situation where countries rolled back significantly on their nuclear power programs and global nuclear majors like Areva and Westinghouse declared bankruptcy………… https://thediplomat.com/2020/09/indias-ambitious-nuclear-power-plan-and-whats-getting-in-its-way/

September 10, 2020 Posted by | India, politics | Leave a comment

India and China both have a nuclear no-first-use policy- nuclear war between them is less likely

India–China border dispute: the curious incident of a nuclear dog that didn’t bark,  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Ramesh ThakurManpreet Sethi, September 7, 2020  On June 15, nuclear-armed China and India fought with fists, rocks, and clubs along the world’s longest un-demarcated and contested boundary. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed; Indian estimates put the Chinese dead at around 40. The two countries remain in a state of military standoff.

Like the case of the dog that didn’t bark, which interested the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, the nuclear dimension of the recent border clashes was conspicuous by its invisibility. This may be in part because of the nuclear no-first-use policy expressed in the official nuclear doctrines of both countries. At a time when geopolitical tensions are high in several potential nuclear theaters, the nuclear arms control architecture is crumbling, and a new nuclear arms race is revving, there is a critical need to look for ideas that can prevent potential crises from escalating. Other nuclear powers can learn from China’s and India’s nuclear policies.

The normalization of nuclear threats. Over the last few years, leaders of many of the nuclear weapons states have taken to nuclear bluster. After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis and annexation of Crimea in 2014, facing hostile Western criticism, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointedly remarked, “Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations”—a subtle but clear nuclear warning to the West. In July 2016, asked in Parliament if she would be prepared to authorize a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 people, British Prime Minister Theresa May unwaveringly answered, “Yes.” And who can forget the tit-for-tat exchange of belligerent rhetoric by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2017 before the blossoming of their bromance in 2018?

In February 2019, after an attack on Indian paramilitary forces at Pulwama led to a clash between the air forces of India and Pakistan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan warned of the possibility of a nuclear war. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, caught in the heat of an election campaign, responded that India’s nukes were not reserved for celebrating the fireworks festival of Diwali.   After India revoked Kashmir’s autonomous status that August, Khan reiterated that nuclear war was a real risk. His foreign minister repeated the warning in Geneva later that same year.

This rhetoric, besides being dangerous, has given rise to another problem. The more the leaders of the nuclear armed states revalidate the role of nuclear weapons in their national security, the more they embolden calls of nuclear weapons acquisition in other countries like GermanyJapanSouth Korea and Australia.

China and India’s nuclear reticence. This is where China and India, in the midst of a military crisis, provide a striking contrast. Neither side has drawn attention to its nuclear weapons in the 2020 border clashes. Nor have many analysts across the globe expressed alarm that the prolonged state of disquiet between the two could spiral out of control into a nuclear exchange……….

China, India, and no first use. An important dimension, however, that has been underestimated in explaining the two countries’ apparent nuclear sobriety is the similarity in their approach to nuclear weapons and deterrence.

They are the only two of the nine nuclear armed states with the stated commitment to a no-first-use policy, and the force postures to match. …….

In 2014, China and India called for negotiations on a no-first-use convention among the world’s nuclear powers. It might be time for the United States and other countries to give it a serious look. Indeed, the China–India border standoff demonstrates the practical utility of a nuclear policy centered on no-first-use and merits wider international attention.  https://thebulletin.org/2020/09/india-china-border-dispute-the-curious-incident-of-a-nuclear-dog-that-didnt-bark/

September 8, 2020 Posted by | China, India, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The dangerous and deadly toll of uranium mining, on Indian communities

Child with cerebral palsy, in uraniummining region Dungridih village. Jaduguda, photo by Subhrajit Sen.
[Photos] Suffering in the town powering India’s nuclear dreams. Mongabay, BY SUBHRAJIT SEN ON 4 SEPTEMBER 2020

  • Uranium is a vital mineral for India’s ambitious nuclear power programme. Out of the seven states with uranium reserves, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh have currently operating mines.
  • In Jharkhand’s Jaduguda region, which has India’s oldest uranium mines, local communities narrate stories of suffering due to degrading health and the environment. The government, however, denies any ill-impact of uranium mining on people.
  • The Indian government is aiming to increase uranium exploration and mining.
  • This photo essay features images taken between 2016-2019 of residents of villages around uranium mines in Jharkhand. Some of these photos contain sensitive content.

Anamika Oraom, 16, of village Dungridih, around a kilometre away from Narwa Pahar uranium mine in Jharkhand, wants to study. But she cannot, owing to severe headaches that come up periodically, triggered by a malignant tumour on her face. Sanjay Gope, 18, cannot walk and is confined to his wheelchair. Haradhan Gope, 20, can study, walk, talk, but owing to a physical deformity, his head is much smaller in proportion to his body.

There are many more, young and old, in the village Bango, adjacent to Jaduguda uranium mine in Jharkhand, whose lives and death highlight the ill-effects of uranium mining, say the villagers.

Uranium is a naturally occurring radioactive mineral and is vital to India’s nuclear power programme. At present (till August 31, 2020), India’s installed nuclear power capacity is 6780 megawatts (MW). The country aims to produce 40,000 MW of nuclear power by 2030.

The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) is involved in the mining and processing uranium ore in the country. According to the UCIL, mining operations at Jaduguda began in 1967, and it is India’s first uranium mine.

In the 25-kilometre radius of Jaduguda, there are other uranium deposits at Bhatin, Narwa Pahar, Turamdih, Banduhurang, Mohuldih, and Bagjata. While UCIL claims that Jaduguda mine has created a large skill base for uranium mining and the mining industry, local communities point out that their lives and land have changed irreversibly.

The villagers complain that the hills surrounding Jaduguda, dug up to create ‘tailing ponds,’ have proven to be a severe health hazard. A tailing pond is an area where leftover material is stored after the excavated ore is treated to extract uranium. Communities argue that these ponds have led to groundwater and river contamination.

Namita Soren of village Dungridih said, “This radioactive element has become a part of our daily life.”

“Children are born with physical disabilities or people with cancer. But our sorrow doesn’t end there,” said Soren who had three miscarriages before giving birth to a child born with physical deformities.

Ghanshyam Birulee, the co-founder of the Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation (JOAR), said that villagers earlier marked certain forest areas as ‘cursed’ – a woman passing through the area was believed be affected by an evil gaze and suffer a miscarriage or people would feel dizzy. These areas coincided with the forest spaces around tailing ponds. In cultural translation, the regions surrounding tailing ponds became infested with ‘evil spirits.’ But as the people became more aware, they connected their misery to the mining operations.

A 2003 study by Tata Institute of Social Sciences emphasised that 18 percent of women in the region suffered miscarriages/stillbirth between 1998 and 2003, 30 percent reported some sort of problem in conception, and most women complained of fatigue and weakness.

When asked the reason for opposing the UCIL’s mining project, Birulee said, “Before mining started, people never used to have diseases like these – children were not handicapped, women were not suffering from miscarriages, people didn’t have tuberculosis or cancer. People had ordinary illnesses, cold and cough, that got cured by traditional medicines. But today, even the doctors are not able to diagnose diseases. It all emerged after uranium mining started.”

India has uranium reserves in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. It is currently operating mines in Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The country has a detailed plan to become self-sufficient in uranium production by achieving a nearly ten-fold rise by 2031-32, including expansion from existing mines and opening new mines. However, to augment supply until then, it has signed a long-term contract with Uzbekistan (in 2019) to supply 1,100 metric tons of natural uranium ore concentrates during 2022 -2026. Similar agreements have been signed with overseas suppliers from various other countries like Canada, Kazakhstan, and France to supply uranium ore.

No help from the government or politicians

Birulee feels that the political class is aware of the problem but that has not translated into safeguarding villagers’ lives. “Whoever is elected from here – legislator or parliamentarian – has never raised our issue about radiation either in the state legislature or parliament. If they raise our issue, I am sure the government will take some action to resolve people’s issues,” said Birulee.

In March 2020, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha about public health hazards due to India’s uranium mines.

Rudy asked whether the central government has reports of hazardous activities like radioactive slurry being stored in the open, causing health hazards to people residing in adjacent areas of uranium mines in the country, and, if so, the action taken on it.

While replying to the question, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, refuted any such impact. ………..

Birulee reflects on the opposing conditions that he has witnessed. For him, it is impossible to leave behind his land, livelihood, and traditions. But for people close to the mines and tailing ponds, “the only solution is that from this region – from this radiation zone – people should be rehabilitated to a safer place. Else they’ll be surrounded by the same problems.”

Local livelihood options impacted

The people note that displacement and then deforestation for uranium mining robbed them of their land and livelihood, and later cursed them with health impacts.

Though the company and those in power deny any ill-impact on local ecology and livelihood, locals alleged that small-scale production of bidis is also hampered due to the low quality of tendu leaves. They suspect that the trees have been exposed to contaminated groundwater.

Villagers said that with expansion of mining large tracts of sal, sarjom, and teak trees are being wiped out. The trees are essential for the communities’ sacred rituals and traditional activities.

Ashish Birulee, photojournalist and member of JOAR, said that the route for transporting uranium ore is the same used by the public. He says the resulting pollution from the dust has a long-term impact on health and ecology.

Ashish adds that the mining company cannot ignore the most significant factor – the experience of people living in this area. “The experience of people is nothing less than any study or research. It can’t be denied. UCIL is not ready to admit that there are problems. It is because if it admits it would have to compensate people. Peoples’ experience shows that before 1967 there were no such issues, but it started after mining took off. If you look at the population of Jaduguda, there are a lot of people with disabilities. But if you go about 15 kilometres away, there are no such problems.”

“As far as a solution is concerned, once you start mining at any place, there is no solution. The company will mine here till the uranium ore exists. It has a lease for 45-50 years and after mining is over here, it will move to a new mine and extract resources. But the mining waste will be left here,” said Ashish. …… https://india.mongabay.com/2020/09/photos-suffering-in-the-town-powering-indias-nuclear-dreams/

 

September 5, 2020 Posted by | health, India, Uranium | Leave a comment

Scientists conduct first in situ radiation measurements 21 km in the air over Tibetan Plateau

Scientists conduct first in situ radiation measurements 21 km in the air over Tibetan Plateau  https://phys.org/news/2020-08-scientists-situ-km-air-tibetan.html  by Li Yuan, Chinese Academy of Sciences,  24 Aug, 20, Radiation variations over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) are crucial for global climate and regional ecological environment. Previous radiation studies over the TP were widely based on ground and satellite measurements of the radiation budget at the surface and at the top of the atmosphere.

In situ vertical radiation measurements from the surface up to the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS), about 10 to 22 km in altitude, are rare over the TP or even over a large territory of China.

Dr. Zhang Jinqiang from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), in collaboration with scientists from the Aerospace Information Research Institute of CAS, developed a balloon-based measurement system to measure stratospheric radiation

This original system, for the first time, provides in situ measurements of multiwavelength radiation profiles from the surface up to the UTLS over the TP. Using this system, scientists can study how and why radiation profiles vary over the TP during the Asian summer monsoon period.

The observation campaigns were conducted three times in the summer of 2018 and 2019, of which the longest flight observation lasted more than 30 hours and achieved a breakthrough of diurnal radiation variation in the UTLS.

According to the team, the stratospheric balloon-based radiation profiles, combined with simultaneous operational radiosondes, ground measurements, satellite retrievals and radiative transfer model simulations, are valuable because the data can be used to study radiation variations and the radiative forcings of clouds and aerosols over the TP during the Asian summer monsoon period. The radiation retrievals from the radiative transfer model simulations and satellite observations are also validated.

“The results of these campaigns can improve our understanding of radiation properties in the UTLS and help us better comprehend the thermal conditions associated with clouds and aerosols over the TP during the Asian summer monsoon period,” said Zhang.

Their findings were published in Environmental Research LettersJournal of Environmental Sciences and Atmospheric Pollution Research.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | climate change, India | Leave a comment

A Pakistan threat of nuclear war with India

August 22, 2020 Posted by | India, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China feels India’s nuclear weapons programme driven by prestige: US report

China feels India’s nuclear weapons programme driven by prestige: US reportThe Carnegie report stressed China’s views on the issue are largely unknown

Web Desk August 19, 2020  The continuing tension over the Line of Actual Control near Ladakh between India and China has shown few signs of abating. Both China and India maintain large numbers of troops and equipment in the region.

The Chinese state-run media continues to play up deployment of new artillery and other weapon systems near the border with India. However, despite the tension, references to nuclear weapons have been subdued in both nations.

A US think tank, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on August 19 published a report on the Chinese perspective on nuclear weapons in the context of ties with India.

The Carnegies report noted while India’s perspectives on nuclear weapons are “relatively well documented,” China’s views on the issue are largely unknown.

The Carnegie report is based on interviews with “dozen Chinese academics, researchers, and military officers who work either on South Asia or on nuclear policy” and review of Chinese literature published in the last decade……..

Nukes for prestige?

On the issue of India’s nuclear weapons, the Chinese experts interviewed in the Carnegie report felt the systems are “for general deterrence and not for actual employment”……….

The experts interviewed in the Carnegie study felt a border conflict between India and China was unlikely to escalate into a nuclear exchange. Both India and China have declared ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons.

……….   The US factor

A point of concern expressed by the Chinese analysts was the possibility of India and the US strengthening strategic ties.

“While Chinese analysts largely dismiss India’s homegrown development of new military capabilities, they express concern about the prospect of US-India collaboration on defence projects. Chinese experts are particularly wary of US-India missile defence cooperation and the possibility that it could create a networked system. If such a system was to emerge, they would see India as a de facto security ally of the United States,” the Carnegie report noted.  https://www.theweek.in/news/world/2020/08/19/china-feels-indias-nuclear-weapons-programme-driven-by-prestige-us-report.html

August 20, 2020 Posted by | China, India, politics international | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear power industry – unsafe and shrouded in secrecy

The alarming safety record of India’s nuclear power plants    https://tribune.com.pk/article/97109/the-alarming-safety-record-of-indias-nuclear-power-plants  In 2016, an emergency was declared when the nuclear plant at Kakrapar was shut down after a major water leak, Syed Zain Jaffery, July 28, 2020

The Indian nuclear power industry is still veiled in confidentiality and opacity while refusing to reveal its safety details. Prominent environmental watchdogs have already voiced apprehensions about safety standards adopted by the nuclear establishment, where technical negligence or poor maintenance is commonplace, and regulatory bodies in India habitually sweep major nuclear accidents under the carpet. The production of nuclear energy is regulated in secrecy by a government body known as the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).

It is no mystery as to why India is reluctant to establish a completely autonomous and politically neutral nuclear oversight authority to discretely operate from the industry it oversees. The nuclear disaster in Fukushima demonstrated the significance of independent nuclear oversight. India’s persistent refusal to create an independent regulatory body shows a lack of confidence in maintaining standards which are internationally recognised.

New Delhi constituted the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to adopt international benchmarks and procedures. In reality, however, the AERB is not functioning independently of the Department of Atomic Energy. According to the Indian constitution, the AERB is an authority subservient to the central government via DAE. AERB, being a subordinate body to DAE, has frequently found it challenging to enforce global safety standards on DAE and NPCIL operations. There is a shortage of technical staff and relevant equipment at the AERB, which partially explains why it never implemented a benchmark nuclear safety policy.
The projects related to nuclear energy in India appear to be controversial, with nuclear scientists strangely dying and thousands of Indians chanting slogans against the unabated growth of the nuclear industry without proper safety checks. Locals are not, in most cases, satisfied with the Indian nuclear establishment’s policies and safeguard measures. In pursuit of ambitious nuclear power generation, the government did not even hesitate to open fire on demonstrators protesting against unsafeguarded nuclear power projects. Several radiation fatalities in hospitals near major nuclear power plants have been reported in the last decade.
Additionally, the Indian auditor general has frequently reported that the country’s nuclear programme is unpredictable and unregulated. A parliamentary report has pointed out “serious organisational flaws and numerous failings relative to international norms.” The most important question underlined in the report was the AERB’s insufficient legal status and authority.
The Fukushima catastrophe was a major eye-opener for the countries operating nuclear technologies to generate electricity, but India downplayed the whole incident. Poignantly, India was the first country to declare that the reactors of Fukushima were secure. After the Fukushima accident when global nuclear industry initiated inclusive studies to find out the circumstances that led to the nuclear plant’s failure, the DAE said that the Indian nuclear expansion will continue.

The former chairman and managing director of Nuclear Power Corporation, S.K. Jain, was of the view that,

“There is no nuclear accident or incident in Japan’s Fukushima plants. It is a well-planned emergency preparedness programme which the nuclear operators of the Tokyo Electric Power company are carrying out to contain the residual heat after the plants had an automatic shutdown following a major earthquake.”

This entire episode shows the lack of awareness in India regarding upholding proper safety procedures through a timely tackling of any evolving threats.

After the Bhopal gas tragedy, India has suffered dozens of mishaps in its nuclear power plants which are installed by foreign companies under a very slack liability framework. Indian citizens have been exhibiting their apprehension on the nuclear industry’s poor reactor safety record, and these anxieties have grown since nuclear power plants installed by foreign franchises often contain substandard parts due to faulty manufacturing. In 2016, an emergency was declared when the nuclear plant at Kakrapar in Gujarat was shut down after a major water leak. The nuclear leak in Kakrapar was far more severe than the Indian government had initially claimed.

Alarmingly, Indian nuclear engineers failed to investigate the exact reason for the leakage. The central government unpublicised the incident and did not even allow ordinary citizens to use geiger-counters to measure radiation. Shockingly, New Delhi has prohibited the use of geiger-counters, which is a global norm, under the vague excuse of national security. An on-site emergency at Kakrapar nuclear power plant and the circumstance that led to the major leakage raises many questions regarding Indian nuclear expertise.

When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in the opposition, it was the major opponent to civil nuclear expansion in India by citing credible objections on limiting nuclear liability. It also backed the agitators against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant and demanded a comprehensive study for the safety of nuclear plants in Jaitapur. Now in government, the BJP has changed its stance and taken a complete U-turn on the issue.
The BJP government has pursued nuclear power irrationally, without taking into account its destructive potential and has failed to respond to criticism. Alarmingly, international suppliers of nuclear technology are finalising nuclear deals with India without analysing security issues related to nuclear safety in the Indian nuclear industry. These business-oriented nuclear deals will create disastrous consequences for not only Indian citizens but also for the entire region.

Syed Zain Jaffery The author holds a Masters degree from NUST, Islamabad and writes about current affairs and politics.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment