Risk and Nuclear Power in India
Chapter 10 investigates the Department of Atomic Energy’s (DAE’s) claim that ‘Safety is accorded overriding priority in all activities’. Is this diagnosis correct? How does India’s track record measure up against international safety criteria? Evaluating numerous small accidents in India’s various reactors and processing plants, this chapter shows that that this confidence is misplaced and absurd, a theme that echoes throughout the volume. Some of the reasons for this poor safety record include: the nuclear establishment’s ‘techno-optimistic’ risk assessment approach, which underplays uncertainties and denies the possibility of many risks associated with nuclear energy; the DAE’s unaccountable and technocratic risk framework; and finally the lack of financial, technical, and organizational independence of India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board from the nuclear establishment it is tasked with surveying.
Keywords: nuclear power, Department of Atomic Energy, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, techno-optimistic risk assessment, accountability, independence, absurd confidence, uncertainty, safety, technocratic risk framework
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