Secrecy raises accident risk

30 November 1999

India could face a major accident in the near future, according to a former head of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. The Press Trust of India quoted A Gopalakrishnan saying safety standards at India’s reactor are minimal. He also said that the AERB compiled a report in 1995 listing 130 defects at nuclear installations.

“I am not permitted to discuss the specifics openly, but suffice to say that the degree of automation and cross-checks on safety in our older plants are very minimal and one cannot assert at all that an accident like the one in Japan will not happen in India,” he said.

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has not made the report public. Gopalakrishnan said excessive secrecy within the SAE prevents the AERB operating properly.

“The DAE can withhold information as they wish. Coupled with the shelter it enjoys through invoking the national security bogey and the Official Secrets Act, we are likely to face a nuclear accident.” The AERB has set up a Safety Research Institute, which will investigate some of the issues Gopalakrishnan has raised

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