India’s negligent nuclear safety record
India questions its own nuclear industry, SMH, October 15, 2012 “…….India’s comptroller and auditor-general, Vinod Rai, has found the body that oversees nuclear safety in India, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, is ineffective, mired in bureaucracy and negligent in monitoring safety.
Sixty per cent of regulatory inspection reports for operating nuclear power plants in India were either delayed – up to 153 days late – or not undertaken at all. For power plants under construction, the number of regulatory inspections delayed or not done was 66 per cent.
Smaller radiation facilities operate throughout the country with no licences and no oversight at all. In many cases there are no rules for nuclear operators to follow. Despite an order from the government in 1983, the board has still not developed an overarching nuclear and radiation safety policy for India.
And even when laws do exist and are broken, the existing legislation gives the board almost no punitive power. In some cases, the fines for nuclear safety transgressions are as low as 500 rupees – less than $10.
India has had nuclear scares already. In 2010, a gamma irradiation machine containing Cobalt-60 was sold off by Delhi University for scrap. Pulled apart, it unleashed a massive dose of radiation, killing one person and putting another six in hospital.
The Indian government has legislation before parliament to replace the board with a new body, the proposed Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority.
But Prabir Purkayastha from the Delhi Science Forum said: ”It is a very weak piece of legislation, that makes the regulator subservient to a group of ministers. It is a weakening of the current regulation.” http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/india-questions-its-own-nuclear-industry-20121014-27l0a.html#ixzz29Zt1gRpm
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