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PM orders upgradation of N-plants' safety measures

June 01, 2011 20:40 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday directed upgradation of safety measures at the country's nuclear facilities to match the global standards as he reviewed the disaster preparedness in the wake of recent radiation scare in Japan.

At a special meeting in New Delhi, he asked the authorities concerned to look 'beyond design basis accident' while putting in place the safety measures at the nuclear installations.

Singh took stock of the safety measures being undertaken by the Department of Atomic Energy, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.

He directed DAE and AERB to "upgrade the safety measures in the light of the Fukushima experience (of Japan) and look at beyond design basis accident", the home ministry said in a statement.

The meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority was informed about the various procedures put in place in terms of prevention, detection and response to the atomic disasters.

The meeting is understood to have discussed installation of hi-tech gadgets to detect radiation and fast-tracking of creation of additional battalions of disaster response force.

"Our nuclear plants are safe. There are many in-built mechanisms in the nuclear sites to avoid any disaster. The prime minister is fully satisfied about the safety facilities.

However, we have to take more steps to strengthen our preparedness to deal with any emergency," NDMA Vice Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy said at a press conference later.

The prime minister also directed the authorities to put on fast track mode implementation of measures for prevention, detection and response to radiation emergencies.

Though there was no accident in any of the nuclear facilities in the country in the past, there have been incidents of radiation emergency, including the one at Mayapuri in New Delhi two years back in which one person died.

Reddy said it has been reported that only 50 people from different parts of the country (outside DAE facility) suffered in these incidents due to exposure to radiation mostly from orphan sources which were of "greater concern".

Elaborating on measures taken to deal with the situation, he said the NDMA recommendations were accepted by the committee of secretaries in October last the ministry of

health and family welfare was identified as the nodal ministry for this purpose.

The MHA was asked to constitute a task force which came out with a roadmap covering assessment of the capacities and action plan for enhanced medical preparedness in the country to deal with nuclear and radiological emergencies, he said.

The measures include human resource development to handle radiation injuries, pre-positioning, quick response medical team in areas likely to be exposed, exposure of existing health facilities in districts, strengthening of central government and state government hospitals in six metros and vicinities of other vulnerable districts, upgrade and equip one hospital in each district and establish a centre of excellence at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi by 2013.

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