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HAZMAT and Kismet

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  • S. P. Udayakumar
    HAZMAT and Kismet: Dangerous Cargo and Dispassionate People   S. P. Udayakumar Nagercoil, January 2009 [The Indian Supreme Court is trying to find out the
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 4, 2012
      HAZMAT and Kismet:
      Dangerous Cargo and Dispassionate People
      S. P. Udayakumar
      Nagercoil, January 2009

      [The Indian Supreme Court is trying to find out the Indian government's and the DAE's plans to store the Koodankulam spent-fuel, transport this dangerous cargo to reprocessing plants, and to safe-keep the radioactive wastes. The government and the DAE clearly have no plans or preparations for any of these important steps. They lied to the SC about Kolar Gold Fields plans recently and swiftly retracted in the wake of stiff opposition in Karnataka. The attitude and approach of the government and the DAE is this: "We will cross the bridge when we come to it." This careless, callous and casual approach is dangerous, more dangerous than deadly radiation itself. Manmohan Singh company wants to open nuclear power plants all over the country but have no plans to deal with the nuclear wastes. Please see below a four-year-old report on the KKNPP fuel transportation from Thiruvananthapuram to Koodankulam. Good luck to you all, my dear fellow countrymen and women!]

      Back in August 2008, I witnessed a rather unique convoy to fly by me when I was at Parakkai Road Junction in Nagercoil. There were a couple of police jeeps in the front followed by a few heavy trucks with gigantic and heavy-duty cylindrical pipes that were tied together by thin steel wires, and a JCB at the end. The executors obviously had two clear goals: one, don’t attract any undue attention and two, get out of the place as fast as you possibly could. Hence the casual air and unusual haste!
      The executors made sure nobody knew that the cargo was coming, and that their convoy carried no unusual signs or symbols or warnings. So when the developmental motorcade was marching past, nobody knew what was really going on. Clearly, it was not a VIP escort, nor was it an emergency response squad. What was it? People were dumbstruck, media was silent, and civil society groups were clueless.
      I knew it; a handful of others seemed to know it too. It was the highly radioactive and extremely dangerous nuclear fuel rods for the Koodankulam nuclear power plants. It was HAZMAT, hazardous material, that was being transported on busy public roads through densely-populated towns and townships with little care or caution. What disturbed me most was the lack of transparency (viz. not letting the people know what was being carried through their neighborhoods), the complete absence of any accountability (viz. not preparing the people for any untoward incidents, or accidents, or potential disasters) and most importantly, the reckless speed with which the deadly HAZMAT cargo was driven from Thiruvanathapuram airport to Koodankulam.
      I wondered if the Chief Minister of Kerala, his ministerial colleagues and the Mayor of Thiruvananthapuram city were informed about this patriotic parade. Was the municipal chairman of Nagercoil town alerted at all? Then again, it did not actually matter because in this country most elected representatives, politicians, bureaucrats and all those “leaders” identify themselves with the views and values of the establishment and not with the people they claim to be serving. None of the “ordinary citizens” of Kerala and Tamil Nadu were informed, educated or alerted about the dangerous cargo that was crisscrossing their localities.
      As the dangerous cargo was flying by with such haste and grandeur, people on the roadside were muttering: “what is it?” I loitered around asking people what was going on just to assess the public mood and the level of awareness that the people had about the nuclear happenings in the neighborhood. The majority had no idea whatsoever. Some thought it was none of their business, others felt it was a routine matter of trucks plying on the national highway, and yet others opined that it was all a sign of India growing (did they mean glowing?).
      A few said matter-of-factly, “Oh that should be the fuel for the Koodankulam plants.” Even those “informed” citizens did not mention the terms “plutonium” or “fuel rods” or “criticality” or anything like that. Nobody seemed to know anything about the radiation risks and dangers.
      I stood there depressed and dejected about the future of our land, our air, our water, our sea, our food, our people, and most importantly, our children and grand children. . The central government, state government, local bodies, the Department of Atomic Energy, nobody bothered to tell us anything about the cargo that was going to go through our domiciles. The media did not report a single line about this deadly procession. The “ordinary citizens” had no clue.
      I have seen such radioactive HAZMAT transportations in Europe and the United States and have even blocked such trucks in France , the nuclear wonderland, along with French anti-nuclear activists. Those trucks had warning signs and symbols all around them and they inched forward like a pregnant woman with utmost care and caution. The local public was always forewarned and their right not to allow these disastrous demons through their neighborhoods was often respected even if it was not always honored.
      Here in India , the authorities’ approach and the civil society’s attitude seem to be the same: “don’t ask, don’t tell.” When nobody asks and nobody tells, what we have is perfect ignorance. And ignorance is bliss! What HAZMAT, it is kismet that decides our future here in India. Isn’t that so?
    • S. P. Udayakumar
      People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy(PMANE)                    December 12, 2012 Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104 Tirunelveli District,
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 12, 2012
        People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)                    December 12, 2012
        Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
        Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu
        Phone: 98656 83735; 98421 54073
        Let’s Have a National Debate on the Ambitious Nuclear Program
        The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) calls for a national debate on the Indian government’s ambitious and aggressive nuclear power program and for making it a poll issue in the upcoming Parliamentary elections. If the Congress Party or the BJP or any other party for that matter manages to convince the Indian voters about this full-scale nuclearization of the country and obtains absolute majority in the next Parliament, we will call off the ongoing struggle against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) immediately.
        Since the incumbent Congress-led UPA government is accused of obscene and rampant corruption and scandals, and have lost all moral authority and legitimacy to rule the country, the people of India cannot and will not let them take this important nuclearization decision about the future and wellbeing of the second most populous country in the world. The whole of India knows how the present Manmohan Singh government manipulates the Parliament and gets through its devious policies and deceitful schemes. They played all kinds of dirty games and dubious politics to get the Indo-US Nuclear Deal passed in the Parliament. The Indian citizens have witnessed a much worse drama on the recent vote on the FDI issue. The Congress-led government threatened and/or seduced political parties and unscrupulous politicians such as M. Karunanidhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav and others with serious cases or selective incentives to win their support for FDI. Now we hear that Walmart has spent an exorbitant amount of money in India to manipulate the entire Parliamentary processes.
        Indian citizens simply do not and cannot trust these unprincipled, immoral, corrupt and self-seeking “leaders” and their family-run parties to decide all our fate, our progenies’ destiny, and our precious natural resources.  Most of the present-day “leaders” are all sell-outs and they work for foreign governments, their agencies and MNCs. These cancerous elements’ only motive in public life is self-aggrandizement, self-perpetuation, and self-indulgence. Even if these old manipulative Machiavellis lose power (and die), we will still be stuck with their equally bad and corrupt sons and daughters. Nonetheless, let the people of India have a say in the important decision of nuclearizing India.
        After all, the nuclear energy program is not just about generating electricity. When the government starts nuclear power plants all along the Indian coast at Koodankulam, Kalpakkam, Kovvada, Pati Sonapur, Haripur, Jaitapur, Tarapur, Mithi Virdi and so on, all these huge and foreign power plants would be dumping hot and contaminated water and radioactive wastes into the sea with disastrous impact on our sea, seafood, ground water, crops and so forth. Our food security and nutrition security will be drastically affected. As it is, some 42 percent of our children are born malnourished and with severe deficiencies. If we lose the cheap and best fish food also, only the politicians’ and bureaucrats’ children will have the physical health and mental faculties to lead normal healthy life. The present-day slavery will be perpetuated.
        When the Indian elites build even more nuclear power plants at Kaiga, Chutka, Banswada and Fatehabad and so on, most of the Indian citizens will be exposed to dangerous radiation all over the country and we all will be paying a heavy price for diseases and ill health. The government of India does not take these hidden costs into account as our “leaders” are constantly working for their money and their children’s power.
        So, we make the following proposition. Ask the government of India and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to share the following documents on all the existing and upcoming nuclear projects:
        Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA),
        Site Evaluation Report (SER),
        Safety Analysis Report (SAR),
        Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP),
        Concerned Reactor’s Performance Report,
        Liability Regimes and all other relevant information, documents and details in English, Hindi and the local languages.
        Let the whole country discuss these reports and information and engage in a nation-wide debate about the exorbitant cost of nuclear energy, the hidden costs such as food insecurity and diseases, nuclear safety, nuclear waste management, decommissioning technology and costs, and the whole array of related issues.
        And then in the upcoming Parliament elections, let us ask the Indian voters to decide on the full-fledged ambitious and aggressive nuclearization of our country. If majority of them endorse the policy and vote overwhelmingly for any party that supports this nuclear policy and projects, we, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) will immediately withdraw our struggle against the KKNPP project.
        If the corrupt “leaders” of India have not sold the country to the United States, Russia and France, let them take up this democratic offer and work with us instead of sending discredited scientists, macho model boys and subservient bureaucrats amidst us to convince the clear-headed citizens of India.
        The Struggle Committee
        The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
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