KARACHI: If all stakeholders are on board, nuclear power is the cheapest, most doable and climate-friendly option for Pakistan, claimed experts on Thursday.
A group of scientists, nuclear physicists and politicians were speaking at a seminar on the ‘Benefits, Safety and Security of Nuclear Power Plants in Karachi’ at Marriott hotel. The Centre for International Strategic Studies (Ciss) organised the seminar to create awareness about nuclear power and civil society concerns on the country’s largest nuclear power plants — K-2 and K-3 — that are under construction along the Karachi coast with the help of China.
In the opening remarks, former ambassador and Ciss executive director Ali Sarwar Naqvi said that Pakistan needs to revive its economy but the energy crises it faces is the gridlock on its path. “Hydel power has become a political controversy while nuclear power is a cheap, safe and reliable option for Pakistan,” he claimed.
The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is contributing 4.9 per cent of the country’s energy and the plan for 2030 is to get 8,000 megawatts from nuclear power, he added.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who is the chairperson of the Senate’s defence committee, said the issue of the nuclear power plants needs to be discussed because it is linked with the energy security of the country.
On the criticisms over the construction of K-2 and K-3, Sayed recalled how some groups criticised Chashma nuclear plants when they were launched and mentioned the debates on whether or not the plants will sink or explode in an earthquake. “In our country, not taking decisions has become a national habit,” he smiled. He recalled the debate on Thar coal is nearly 25 years old now and the Pak-Iran gas pipeline has yet to start.
Sayed emphasised how the nuclear power plants are the most feasible, economical and eco-friendly option with Pakistan to secure itself from the looming energy crises. All technically advanced countries are increasingly relying on nuclear power, he pointed out, adding that Japan’s new government is restarting its nuclear power plants that were closed after the Fukushima incident.
According to Sayed, Rs1 billion have been spent on generating 1000MW of electricity in thermal sector. But a specific lobby in Islamabad still says the government should focus on thermal power, he said.
Meanwhile, PAEC chairperson Dr Ansar Pervez mentioned they have been running the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (Kanupp) for the last 40 years without the assistance of a vendor and the commission produced its own fuel bundles for it. “Kanupp has never taken any subsidies from the government and is meeting its expenses,” he pointed out, adding that they are running the plant with the money it gets from K-Electric.
A few members raised concerns about the Chinese involvement in the plants, to which Pervez pointed out that China is running 21 nuclear power plants and its goals for 2050 are to achieve 400,000MW from nuclear power. “We are installing ACP-1000 reactors for K-2 and K-3 that will protect them from a missile attack or a airplane crash,” he said.
Pervez clarified that the power plants will not damage climate and the total radiation that the general public receives from it will be 0.3mSv per year, which is less than the radiation from other natural sources.
After him, nuclear physicist Dr Shaukat Hameed Khan spoke on Pakistan’s energy needs and the importance of nuclear energy. By 2030, Pakistan’s energy requirements will reach 160,000MW and the exaggerated coal reservoirs will last only 14 years, he said. Meanwhile, former senator Javed Jabbar stressed on creating awareness among the people about nuclear power.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2014.
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