The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant suffers from lack of safety measures and is plagued by several other "serious issues". It must not be commissioned till they are resolved, anti-nuclear activists told the Supreme Court on Thursday.
Appearing before a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishanan and Deepak Misra, they submitted that the safety measures recommended by the Atomic Energy Regulation Board have not been put in place and government agencies have not determined till date the site for storing spent nuclear fuel.
"It is clear that KKNPP suffers from several serious issues that need to be resolved before the plant can be commissioned. Lakhs of people living in the vicinity of the plant are bound to be apprehensive in such a situation. Instead of dealing with these issues and addressing the concerns in a meaningful way, the government has launched a wave of repression and has slapped 8,000 sedition cases against peaceful protesters," said advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners.
He said the government has not complied with the statutory guidelines framed by the National Disaster Management Authority regarding nuclear safety and pleaded with the apex court to restrain the Centre from commissioning the plant.
The bench, however, refused to pass any order and asked the petitioners to implead NDMA.
The petitioners' counsel also questioned the Centre's decision of exempting the Russian reactor manufacturer firm from liability in case of an accident due to a defect in the reactor.
The apex court earlier had refused to stay the loading of fuel in the plant but had agreed to examine the risk associated with the project.
The court was hearing pleas by social activists G Sundarrajan and others for restraining the government from commissioning the plant.
The petitioners contended that after last year's nuclear disaster in Fukushima in Japan, the AERB had recommended 17 safety measures for the plant but the plant operator adopted only six of them.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, which operates the plant, had earlier said the plant has been so designed that it can withstand natural events like earthquake, tsunami etc and even in case of terrorist attack, the structure would not release radioactive rays in public domain.
"The design includes provisions for withstanding external events like earthquake, tsunami/storm, tidal waves, cyclones, shock waves, aircraft impact on main buildings and fire," said NPCIL in its affidavit.
"As regards the vulnerability of the KKNPP to the terrorists attacks, sabotage, etc, it has elaborate physical security arrangements in place to ensure its security. The structural design of the facilities at KKNPP ensures that in the event of a physical attack, the structure would prevent the release of any radioactivity into the public domain," the corporation had said in its affidavit.