KARACHI: Reactors of the Karachi nuclear power project – K-2 and K-3 – are more safe and sophisticated than those of Fukushima, said its project director Azfar Minhaj.
Minhaj and his colleagues from Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), including Scientific Information and Public Relations director Shahid Riaz Khan, were briefing the media at the PAEC Office on Thursday.
They were answering the queries of writers, civil society members and NGOs on the safety of the 2200-megawatt plants, which the government is building along the Karachi coast near the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant.
In his presentation, Minhaj said that they have conducted many studies of the site to ensure that the plants could survive the largest earthquake and tsunami that can be expected in the region. “The highest tsunami height expected in Karachi is about 2.8 metres above sea level, while the K-2 and K-3 ground level is 12 metre above the mean sea level,” he said, adding that they have collected all the instrumental, historical data of earthquakes in the history of Karachi.
They have also examined the ground but there is no history of major earthquakes in Karachi. He said that all seismic fault lines near the plants are inactive. “We have hypothetically assumed a 602-kilometre fault line near the city. If it gets ruptured, it will not affect the plant,” he said.
“Our plant is at 12-metre height and our electricity generation sources are at elevated levels. We have the mobile diesel electric generator ready and the plants have the passive emergency power supply and cooling water systems for 72 hours. In case of water storages, we can use fire water tanks for cooling.”
According to Minhaj, the ‘ACP1000’ system proposed for the K-2 and K-3 plants, which is a third generation reactor with enhanced security measures and capabilities, is safer and more sophisticated than the Fukushima. The ACP1000 is a ‘Pressurised Water Reactor’ and has been used in the nuclear industry for the past five decades. He said that China is constructing 29 nuclear power plants in its country and the plant at Chashma is imported from China and has been working efficiently for the past 14 years.
China has also provided loans for Chashma plants. For the K-2 and K-3, it is providing $6.5 billion loan on soft terms.
Minhaj refuted the claim that the whole city would have to be evacuated in case of an accident or a complete meltdown of the plants. According to him, in the case of an accident, the population within the five-kilometre radius will be evacuated and they have prepared plans for it.
“We will extend the evacuation plan till 15-kilometre radius which covers the area till Gulbai and population up to 100,000.” He also said that they have sufficient stalk potassium iodide tablets for the population in case of an emergency. “Pakistan Army, provincial and national disasters management authorities and local administration and traffic police are in loop in case of emergency evacuation. We have made our plans according to our own census and survey in the area.” He added that locality near the plant is thinly populated and the PAEC has acquired a land within 1.5 kilometre radius to halt any construction there.
The plants are resistant to terrorist attacks and designed to take a commercial plane crash without letting it to penetrate through. “The plant has double-shell containment. Its outer shell is strong enough to stop attacks like 9/11,” he said, adding that they have strong physical security system more secure than that of the General Headquarters and guarded by 920 officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2014.