just like every other resource can either be put to good use or for destructive
purpose which recalls words from the science classes, 'Energy cannot be created
or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to
another'. So, to dispel radiation fears and restore trust in productive use of
radiation a panel of experts gave presentations and offered detailed
explanations at The Journalist Workshop-cum-Press Meet in Chennai,
Tamil Nadu on January 11, 2012 on 'Occupational Health Safety' initiated by
Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, Madras Atomic Power Station at
Panic among Public
from Japan, India has also borne the brunt of an industrial disaster, hence the
alarm at the word 'nuclear' prevalent among people due to misconceptions though
radiation has been effectively used in medical treatments. Ideally the first
presentation on the theme of the event, 'Occupational
Health and Safety' presented by Mr. K. Ramamurthy, Station Director, MAPS,
Kalpakkam, began on Nuclear Power Plants are put into operation after a thoroughscientific
method of evaluation based on a clear understanding of the safety significanceCurrently
demand for energy and the source for the generation of energy is in the form of
electrical energy. But the ongoing debate is which source of energy is good to
meet the demand, the abundance of the source and also the reliability of the
source. He suggested that a mixture of energy is better than going towards one source.
Hence nuclear energy is a better choice which gets implemented after detailed
research, where security of the process is put in place, safe handling of tools
employed and advantages of energy maximised.
'Background Radiation - An Introduction' by Mr.
S.A. Bharadwaj, Director (Technical), NCPIL, explained the omnipresence of
radiation. Radiation from natural sources called natural background radiation,
cosmic rays affecting the rays from outside earth such as sun, stars and
galaxies, radioactive substances in the earth's crust in the form of
radioactive isotopes, Radon through decay of uranium emitted from the ground
breathed in through lungs are listed as sources of radiation. Highest level of
natural radiation is observed in Karunagapally in Kerala and Ramsar, a northern
coastal city in Iran. In support of his argument of how being constantly
exposed to radiation has not endangered human beings, he also put forth the
imperative universal rule of manmade radiation must be 'As Low as Reasonably
Achievable' (ALARA) principle.
Cancer Independent of Radiation
'Radiation and Cancer- A Perspective' by
Dr. V. Rangarajan, M.D. Head, Dept. Of Bio-Imaging TATA Memorial Centre (TMC),
Mumbai reinforced on how radiation is used in treating patients especially of
cancer. Almost all imaging tests including CT and PET Scans that people are
familiar with, because of its use during emergency also useradiation.
Radio-isotopes such as Bone Scan PET Scan and perfusion scans fall under the
category. In fact radiation in his opinion has only cured cancer and hardly
vice-versa. Among examples of radiotherapy cited by him are on Ewing's sarcoma
and Hodgkin's lymphoma that melt away with radiotherapy and other on how
radiotherapy improves cure rates by 30% when added to Surgery and Chemotherapy.
"Radiation does not cause disease but is needed to treat cancer" he insisted.
He also presented the safety side of his argument drawing examples from
Eldorado (Canada) Uranium workers close to 17660 labourers monitored for
decades exhibited lower mortality rates, who exhibited lower incidence of
cancer as opposed to general public. He cited similar examples from French
nuclear power plants and Finnish nuclear plants.
addressing Fukushima Daiichi in Japan that was hit by a tsunami recently, his
presentation marked that no deaths were reported and long term damage to human
health though yet unknown, is expected to be low. But currently measures are
taken to safeguard from ill effects through containment and adequate coolants. Chernobyl
was an accident caused thyroid cancer in 6000 people.However the damaged
reactor is now encased in a concrete shell. A new containment structure is due
to be completed by 2014. As opposed to popular belief that land becomes barren
after nuclear disaster, life has been restored in Chernobyl and Nagasaki
covered by greenery.
on 'Retrospective Analysis of Health
Profile of Employees of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited - Operating
Sites' was presented by Dr. S.K. Jain, Chief Medical Superintendent, NPCIL.
He spoke on the importance of the health of employees to any organisation. Especially
in nuclear power plant sites, the health of the worker is all the more
important because they are skilled labourers. He later mentioned how there is a
need for 600 workers at Kalpakkam, but only 100 workers are available since
additional manpower with specialised skills is required. Premier medical
services are offered at Departmental hospitals and dispensaries at each site.
While discussing AME which takes into account the history, physical
examination, systematic examination and investigations he offered statistics of
NCPIL employees in comparison to general public to show low incidence of ill
regarding fish production were addressed by Dr. V. Rangarajan, M.D. stated with
facts verified by meeting with the fishermen in the locality. On how the
nuclear waste material will be disposed, Dr. P. Chellapandi, Director NSEG,
IGCAS, explained short term solution where nuclear waste will be converted to
glass since glass is stable and stored in a stainless steel container and kept
underground called Plutonium mines which will be used in the next stage for
Fast breeder programme. The mines will be used to re-cycle energy; hence the
plutonium mines were referred as treasures. The maintenance for the
preservation is definitely much cheaper than buying coal. When asked if India
is prepared to handle in case of a disaster the response was in affirmative.
of the event was to fill the gap on awareness on nuclear energy and do away
with any fear lingering in the minds of the people. The focus was specifically
on the health and safety of people with ample examples. Campaigns are currently
carried out more assertively among locales living close to nuclear power
plants. Inhabitants have also been educated on how to handle in case of an
accident. The first level test is completed at Koodankulam and is in need of
APP clearance in order to load fuel process it will take about 3 to 4 months to
generate energy. The panel reiterated that the plant belongs to the country and
the country will benefit from nuclear energy.