Saturday, 28 May 2011

Indian Nuclear Plants Sitting Ducks

The nuclear developments in Germany over the few days on the heels of the Fukushima crisis has grave importance for India.

The German Chancellor recently did a 180 degree turn on her decision of last year to greatly extend Germany’s 17 nuclear plant’s lifespan. With overwhelming public concern for nuclear safety after Fukushima she now has proclaimed Germany will be free of nuclear power by 2022. Indeed, currently only 4 of the 17 plants are now on line. This was monumental as her policy of only late last year snuggly embraced the burning atom as the panacea of long cold German winter power shortages.

Fukushima of course was largely influential in this about turn. The world watched with dropped jaws and crossed fingers as we watched little men in white overalls look very industrious. For the better part of I was convinced they didn’t have the foggiest idea what they were doing, or worse what was happening, but it was terribly reassuring.

What wasn’t reassuring, actually quite destabalising, was that this was happening in the most technologically advanced country in the world. The world sees the Japanese as very clever and insanely organised, if not a little humourless. If it could happen there it could certainly happen in German, indeed they even share traits.

This is why the rest of the world certainly shouldn’t have nuclear power. The rest of us are dimwitted, disorganised and always up for a laugh.

But what has not been reported widely is the findings of the safety enquiry commissioned by Merkel to assess the structural integrity of the plants. This was the decider. Regardless that the tests were conducted with 30 year old safety perimeters they have concluded that none of the 17 nuclear plants would withstand a crash by a large plane and seven would not withstand the crash of even a light aircraft!

This is terrible news for India. "You don't have to take the bang to the enemy; the bang is already there when you take out his nuclear plants." India is surrounded by some strange idiot neighbours. Pakistan to her West should have been certified years ago and China to her north is madly ambitious. Giving these countries the courtesy of constructing nuclear plants for use as bombs at their convenience is being far too hospitable.

As Matin Zuberi says,"The core of a typical nuclear plant contains about 1,000 times the radioactivity released by the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A high explosive bomb used against it would acquire the attributes of a nuclear weapon without its blast effect.”

What worries me to my core is that India could suffer an incalculably catastrophic disaster not from powerful missiles from a highly militarized neighbour but from some dribbling at the mouth nutter with a Cessna or a Tata tempo laden with explosives in the car park.

With the US assassination of Osama exposing the porosity of air defense systems, with their brazen abuse of Pakistani sovereignty, India is mortally defenseless. All it would take for an Indian nuclear plant to be breached would be a Pakistani helicopter with an almost effeminate explosive. If a German plant cannot withstand the impact of a small aircraft we can assume a plant in Kalpakkam would not repel a crazed, red eyed Pakistani pilot high on patriotic tripe.

The terrorist attacks of the last few years would not have found a place in fiction. They have been too brazen and wholly implausible. Now the ridiculous notion of a terrorist attacking a nuclear plant must star highly in security agencies risk assessments not in the grubby newsprint of pulp fiction. After 26/11 any satanic scenario seems wholly real.

If India cannot protect the heart of Mumbai, as indeed the Americans could not protect her New York from a handful of murderous zombies, then what hope can we hold for a dozen nuclear plants?

How could these plants be protected from erstwhile human beings who are dedicated, increasingly sophisticated and have, as the Headley trial has evidenced, State sponsorship? It is like the Peacock desperately trying to save her white domed, delicate eggs from the village rats. The point of difference being that only one egg cracked will leave Hindustan a desolate, sterile nuclear landscape.

It is deeply ironic how delicate these plants are that harness such brutal power. But it is deeply moronic that India’s political establishment have swallowed the sales pitch of nuclear plant manufacturers with this very real risk of incineration.

1 comment:

  1. Very credible arguments, Roy.

    We are obsessed with our so called worries about safety of Pakistan's nuclear establishments and don't give a thought to ours. This whole idea of nuclear power suddenly becoming immensely important for India is a story written by big corporations, our netas, business channels and opinion makers. It's all about business and kick backs. Nothing else.