Monday, January 9, 2012

Bangladesh To Set Up Nuclear Plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has provided Bangladesh the assurance to assist in establishing nuclear power station in Rooppur. Recently, IAEA Director General Eukia Amano assured the issue in a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. It is to mention that the proposal of building nuclear power station in Rooppur was approved in the national parliament on 9 December 2010. Meanwhile during Sheikh Hasina's tour to Russia, a mutual agreement was signed between two countries regarding establishment of nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. According to the source, the proposed power station in Rooppur is expected to produce 1,000 MW of power per year at a cost of 100 billion takas (Tk). It is to be mentioned here that the preliminary estimate of establishing nuclear plants in different countries ends up in few times higher than the projected cost. However, a power station producing 250 MW power costs Tk 12 billion. That means, with Tk 100 billion, eight power stations of this sort can be developed where in aggregate 2,000 MW of power can be generated.
Expensive and Risky Venture
In addition, from the estimate that International Energy Agency (IEA) has given on establishment cost of power stations based on coal, gas, and nuclear materials, it can be assumed that the construction cost of nuclear power stations is much higher. As per the estimates provided by IEA, a 250 MW coal based power station costs Tk 17.75 billion. That means, with Tk 100 billion, six power stations of this sort can be developed where in aggregate 1,400 MW of power can be generated. In addition, as per the IEA's estimates, a 250 MW gas based power station costs Tk 10.65 billion.
So, with the said fund, nine power stations generating 250 MW of power can be established. Besides, the establishment cost for solar and wind based power stations are lesser. Moreover, it has been found in different researches that the management cost of nuclear power station is few times higher than that of the power stations based on oil, coal, gas, water, wind, or solar energy. There is no risk of health hazards. Then why is Bangladesh moving toward this expensive and risky venture?
Matter of Honor for Country
The energy adviser to the prime minister, Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury said that it was a matter of honor for the nation to build a nuclear power station. In the same week, Yafes Osman state minister for science, information and communication technology, said that although Bangladesh is in earthquake risk zone, the nuclear power station in Rooppur will be built with the capability to persist earthquake measuring up to 10 in Richter Scale. He could not inform anything on whether any research has been conducted regarding the issue or on what scientific basis he provided the information. Normally, question has arisen on the suitability of such project costing Tk 100 billion. Extensive debate on nuclear wastages, and financial and health risk was going on prior to the current debate. Debate was going on over different aspects of profit and loss, excessive operating costs, disposal of nuclear wastages, and health risks associated with this nuclear power plant costing four times higher than the other means of power generation. However, the Bangladesh Government is ignoring the opinions of the specialists and the general people; this is a serious risk not only to the current generation but also to the future generation. The critical picture we find from the history and the present phenomenon tends that one such project is sufficient to destroy Bangladesh.
Dr Mahbub Ullah, professor at Development Studies Department in Dhaka University, said that the burning issue was whether it would be appropriate to carry on the agreement with Russia regarding establishment of nuclear power plant. Bangladesh is a very densely populated country. In such a country, if any explosion happens because of human error or natural calamity, it would be impossible to save people from the radiation that will be generated. In one side, many people will die instantly; on the other hand the curse of radiation is to be carried out for generations. Because of this curse, birth of retarded children and the severity of incurable diseases like cancer will grow to such an extent that it will be impossible for Bangladesh to bear. We must have to be careful after the incidents occurred in Japan and Chernobyl.
Fear of Devastation
Another source says that, taking the issues like Uranium mining, building nuclear reactor, cooling the towers, transportation of nuclear wastages under consideration, there is no doubt among the scientists that nuclear power plant endangers the atmosphere, environment and the animals. Nuclear power plants were excluded from Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Through a research in 2004, John William and Phillip Smith have shown that a nuclear power plant emits one third Green House Gas than a modern natural gas-based power station. In addition to few thousand times harmful Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) is released from the Carbon-Dioxide of nuclear power stations. Alleged for environment pollution, CFC was proscribed internationally in "Montreal Protocol." Although every year the nuclear reactors emit around a trillion Curie (unit of radiation) radio-active isotopes in the atmosphere. Neutral gases such as Krypton, Xenon, and Argon are in the list of those isotopes. These isotopes are dissolvable in the fats and can be transferred into the fatty tissues of the body including the genital organs through inhalation of the people residing in the adjacent areas of a reactor. Moreover, Gamma ray that radiates from the radioactive atoms can create sudden impacts on ovary and the sperm that may cause genetic diseases. There is a hydrogen isotope named Tritium that creates radioactive water after reaction with oxygen. This water may go into the DNA molecules of human body through skins, lungs, and digestive system that may end into disaster.
In 2008, the German Government conducted a research on the children residing in the adjacent areas of 16 of their commercial nuclear power plants. The finding of the research was that the closer you go to the nuclear plant, the higher the risk becomes of children getting attacked in cancer, especially leukemia. The research also shows that the risk of children residing within 5-km circumference of the nuclear power station getting attacked in leukemia is almost double than that of the children living elsewhere. It is found in the research that in the localities adjacent to the nuclear reactor, death rate in breast cancer is 26-28 persons per hundred thousand; whereas the average rate of death in breast cancer is 20-22 persons per hundred thousand. This research has been conducted in the United States that produces the maximum amount of nuclear power in the current age. In the research of Energy Department in the United States, it was found that the death rate in breast cancer has grown 37 percent from 1950-54 to 1985-89 in the areas near to the oldest nuclear plants; whereas throughout America, on an average the same rate increased by only 1 percent.
On 26 April 1986, one of the four reactors exploded in a nuclear power plant in the Chernobyl of Kiev city in former Soviet Union. Radioactive molecules spread out in Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and many other regions of Eastern Europe. Chernobyl city is abandoned till now. As per the updated information, the overall loss in the Chernobyl accident crossed $100 billion. It took $4 billion only to close down the power plant.
A nuclear accident occurred in Three Mile Island of Pennsylvania in United States on 28 March of 1979. After that accident, the United States has not built any more nuclear power plants till now. Immediately after the Three Mile Island accident demand was raised to ban nuclear power plant in the Sweden Referendum in 1980. After the Chernobyl incident in 1986, everyone thought that the days of nuclear power plants are over. Germany not only stopped making new nuclear power plants but also closing down the expired plants. Belgium, Taiwan, and Japan are also gradually moving away from nuclear power production. Even the people of France that get 77 percent of their power from nuclear power are immensely pressurizing their government to close down their nuclear power stations.
In May 2000, the Aangra-1 nuclear plant of Brazil emitted thousands of gallons of radioactive saline water since their machines frequently used to get out of order and this news has not been published in Brazil. The company in charge of management of the plant did not inform the government. As a result plenty of people were exposed to health risk.
Germany closed down seven of their nuclear plants after the devastation in Japan. However, some other countries including France and the Philippines closed down few nuclear power plants prior to the incident in Japan.
Importing Nuclear Power Plant
When everyone is closing down nuclear plants one after another, the Bangladesh Government is planning to be "honored" by building nuclear power plant. Bangladesh wants to import nuclear power plant of model VVR-1000 from Russia. Russia will only sell reactor and its raw material Uranium. Even if we disregard the overall risk including health and financial aspects, question remains whether Bangladesh has the capability to install, operate, and maintain the nuclear power plant that it is going to purchase from Russia. The source of fuel for producing nuclear power production is Uranium. It is questionable that why Bangladesh is trying to generate nuclear power without having the capability to process the raw material of Uranium.
The one time investment for installing nuclear power plant is huge. Moreover the estimate in the beginning does not remain fixed. The amount of investment increases as the days go by. Bangladesh will have to avail suppliers' credit for the nuclear power plant. Until today, in all countries, including Bangladesh that initiated projects availing suppliers' credit or credits from different banks and donor agencies, the ruler class was benefited; people have become more indebted.
If we see the example of Brazil, the establishment cost of their first nuclear power plant established in Rio de Janeiro in 1970 was $320 million. In 1983, after the installation of the plant, total expenditure stood $2.10 billion. In 1983, the establishment cost of their second nuclear plant was estimated to be $1.60 billion. After 18 years of the stipulated time, its cost became $10 billion. It took $20 billion to finish only 35 percent of the third nuclear plant. Later on, the Brazilian Government adjourned the project.
Possibility of Mass Destruction
It is not possible for a third world country like Bangladesh to check the probable mass destruction arising out of any accidents in the nuclear power plant. A developed country like Japan even fails to avoid the crisis in the nuclear power stations. The bigger accidents like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island took place in the countries standing in the apex in terms of technological advancement. All these countries developed nuclear power plants based on their own skills. It cannot even be imagined that a sophisticated technology like nuclear power plant will run smoothly in a country like Bangladesh where simple power stations based on water, oil, and gas frequently get out of order and remain unfixed for years.
However, not only the nuclear power stations of Bangladesh, it is also necessary to close down the power stations of India and Pakistan. In India, 4,780 MWs of power is generated in six of their power stations utilizing 20 nuclear reactors. Five more power plants are under construction. There are three nuclear power plants in Pakistan from which 2.4 percent of the total power is produced. The concerned people in India have been protesting for long against their nuclear power plants.

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