Taking into confidence: PAEC intends to gather public support for nuclear plants planned for city

Atomic energy commission says nuclear power environment friendly, cost efficient

Our Correspondent January 18, 2015
Atomic energy commission says nuclear power environment friendly, cost efficient.. PHOTO: PAEC

KARACHI: Even though the word ‘nuclear’ brings to mind images of the devastation the atomic bombs caused in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, power generated using nuclear technology is environment friendly, cost effective and less harmful.

The speakers at a meeting organised by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) at the Movenpick hotel on Saturday shared these views as they tried to gain public support for the proposed nuclear plants on the outskirts of Karachi.

“The development of K-2 and K-3 nuclear plants is an important milestone in the path towards establishing 8,800MW by 2030 and 40,000MW by 2050,” claimed Azfar Minhaj, the general manager of PAEC Karachi’s coastal power project being installed near Paradise Point. “The project will add 2,200MW to the national grid in an attempt to overcome the power crisis.”

The meeting aimed at informing the public about the significance of the nuclear plants and remove any misconceptions about the consequences of setting up such an establishment so close to a metropolis. Recently, a case in the high court had cast some doubt on this project.

“During the period between 1969 and 2000, only two casualties from nuclear radiation were reported and those were accidents,” Minhaj pointed out during his presentation. These two accidents took place in the Three Mile Island in 1979 and Fukushima in 2011. “The World Health Organisation studies show that the increase in occurrence of cancer due to these accidents will be negligible.”

He claimed that the lessons learnt from these disasters have fully been integrated into the design of these nuclear plants. “The great advantage of the ACP-1000 model is that it fully meets the enhanced safety targets required for the third generation of nuclear power plants.” Chances of accidents, he claimed, in third-generation plants are one in 80 million a year. Karachi will remain safe in case of any mishap, he added.

On a question about tsunami warnings in the sea, PAEC chairperson Ansar Pervez replied that there were no such reports. “The drill recently conducted by an international organisation did not actually warn of tsunami but reported about the alarms in case of such a calamity.”

The high tides along the city’s coastline cannot go beyond three metres, while the height of the power plant is more than 12 metres, he said, adding that the design was made keeping in view all safety measures. “The site chosen for the project has been studied thoroughly,” assured Pervez. “It has the most favourable combination of characteristics in the area with respect to seismic activity, protection against tsunamis and flooding, sub-soil conditions and absence of ground water.”

Pervez said that the establishment of the nuclear power plants was much needed as the existing one, Kanupp, completed its life some 14 years back. “The power plant is, however, still being used after retrofitting,” he explained. “Currently, it is generating 80MW against the capacity of 135MW.”

According to the PAEC chief, a Chinese bank was financing the entire project on a soft loan with 3.2 per cent interest. The payback time is 20 years including a grace period of the first eight years, he said, adding that the power generated through these plants will cost around Rs8 per unit.

A study showed during presentation claimed that Pakistan was the least power generator, 755MW, against India’s 6,308MW and China’s 19,056MW. The three countries plan to generate 40,000MW, 200,000MW and 400,000MW, respectively, by the year 2050.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2015.


hyder | 6 years ago | Reply

it really surprise me that most people take call for public support and public hearing seriously. in pakistan no organization need public for their support... they just do it for formality...

Talha | 6 years ago | Reply

K-2 and K-3 are ranked amongst the safest reactor systems available anywhere in the world, as the ACP1000 model selected for the new reactors is based on the well-tested PWR concept of which hundreds of systems are operating around the world. and recently IAEA also approved this latest design.

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