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India seeks details of working reactors from US, French firms as proof of efficacy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has asked American and French nuclear companies, which propose to build atomic plants in the country, to furnish details of functional reactors designed by them as proof of their efficacy.Sources said French company EDF and US firm Westinghouse are still not ready with fully operational “reference plants”, a pre-requisite before a final General Framework Agreement could be signed with these entities.The EDF proposes to build six nuclear European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) of 1650 MW each in Jaitapur and Westinghouse another set of six AP1000 reactors in Kovadda in Andhra Pradesh with an individual capacity of 1000 MW.A senior government official said designs presented by the two companies are new, so even the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) wants to see how the technology works.”We have told them to show a reference nuclear plant, which is functional and produces electricity. On paper, the designs of these companies look nice, but we should also know whether they work well or not. This will also help in getting clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, the nuclear watchdog in the country,” the official said.India specialises in Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors while the one which foreign companies are building are Light Water Reactors (LWRs) with some distinction from one another.Interestingly, the Russian have built Kudankulam units one and two, a VVER technology.The EDF, which is now negotiating with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), said it had given Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant 3 as the reference plant.The French government-owned company said the Flamanville plant with a capacity of 1630 MW should be operational by next year.However, sources said it might take a tad longer for the plant to become operational.EDF is also building another EPR reactor Taishan in China and that is expected to be commissioned before Flamanville.The company, which took over the reactor component of another French company Areva that was initially involved in discussion with the NPCIL, is building two more EPR plants in Hinkley Point in England.The government official added that the NPCIL is hoping that by the time the negotiations are finalised, both these companies are in a position to showcase a reference plant.Currently, discussions are being held techno-commercial at level with both these companies.

Radioactive leak from Air France cargo suspected at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport

Radioactive leak from Air France cargo suspected at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport

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A radioactive material leak was suspected in Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Sunday. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has rushed its team to the spot, PTI said.

A file picture of Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi . Reuters

A file picture of Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi . Reuters

“A call was received from the airport around 10.45 AM regarding suspected radioactive leak from medical equipment,” said Atul Garg, Chief Fire Officer. He said the equipment has come from Air France plane and was kept at the cargo terminal.

The entire area has been cordoned off as a precautionary measure, and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also been informed about the incident, Garg said.

According to ANI, the leak is suspected from a cargo at T3 terminal at Delhi airport. Teams from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are already on the spot.

There was no immediate response from Delhi airport authorities and Air France.

More details awaited.

Global cost of India-Pakistan nuclear war: 21 million dead, ozone layer destroyed and more

By Abheet Singh Sethi

If India and Pakistan fought a war detonating 100 nuclear warheads (around half of their combined arsenal), each equivalent to a 15-kiloton Hiroshima bomb, more than 21 million people will be directly killed, about half the world’s protective ozone layer would be destroyed, and a “nuclear winter” would cripple the monsoons and agriculture worldwide.

As the Indian Army considers armed options, and a member of Parliament (MP) of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) urges a nuclear attack, these projections, made by researchers from three US universities in 2007, are a reminder of the costs of nuclear war.

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Visualisation by nucleardarkness.org based on study by researchers from Rutgers University, University of Colorado-Boulder and University of California, Los Angeles

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said, on 23 September, 2016, that if 100 million Indians died in a Pakistani nuclear attack, India’s retaliation would wipe out Pakistan.

But the real costs would be higher and not just in India and Pakistan, where the first 21 million people–half the death toll of World War II–would perish within the first week from blast effects, burns and acute radiation, according to the 2007 study by researchers from Rutgers University, University of Colorado-Boulder and University of California, Los Angeles, all in the USA.

This death toll would be 2,221 times the number of civilians and security forces killed by terrorists in India over nine years to 2015, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of South Asia Terrorism Portal data.

Another two billion people worldwide would face risks of severe starvation due to the climatic effects of the nuclear-weapon use in the subcontinent, according to this 2013 assessment by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a global federation of physicians.

Pakistan has an estimated 110 to 130 nuclear warheads as of 2015–an increase from an estimated 90 to 110 warheads in 2011–according to this report from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a global disarmament advocacy. India is estimated to have 110 to 120 nuclear warheads.

Talk of war began after a terrorist attack on an army garrison in the Kashmir town of Uri claimed the lives of 18 Indian soldiers. The Indian Army said the attack was carried out by four terrorists from the Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) group, based in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja M Asif responded to threats from India by saying, “If Pakistan’s security is threatened, we will not hesitate in using tactical (nuclear) weapons.”

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability has previously deterred India from responding to previous attacks.

“At the end of the day, India has to ensure that the options it exercises–particularly the military ones–do not leave it worse off than before in terms of casualties and costs,” wrote analyst Manoj Joshi in The Wire.

It does not really matter if India has fewer nuclear weapons than Pakistan, IndiaSpend reported in April, 2015, primarily because of the doctrine of “mutually assured destruction”, or MAD, as it is commonly known (See this IndiaSpend report for more about India’s nuclear weapons program).

66 percent Pakistan’s nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles

As many as 66 percent Pakistani nuclear warheads are mounted on 86 land-based ballistic missiles, according to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists data estimates.

Pakistan’s Hatf (named after the sword of Prophet Muhammad) series of ballistic missiles has been developed–and is still under development–keeping India in mind.

A major attack by Pakistan’s nuclear-tipped medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) would likely target India’s four major metropolitan cities–New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai (depending on where the missile is fired from), according to Sameer Patil, fellow, national security, ethnic conflict and terrorism at Gateway House, a think tank in Mumbai.

The MRBMs would also target “the major commands of the Indian Army”, Patil told IndiaSpend.

Nearly half (40) of Pakistan’s ballistic missile warheads could be mated to Ghauri (named after 12th-century Afghan king Shahbuddin Ghauri, also known as Muhammad of Ghauri) MRBMs. The missile has a claimed range of 1,300 km and can target Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Bhopal and Lucknow, according to this 2006 report on Pakistan’s ballistic missile programme by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru.

Pakistan has an estimated eight warheads which could be mated to the Shaheen (Falcon) II. This MRBM has a range of 2,500 km and can target most major Indian cities, including Kolkata on the east coast.

Pakistans-Nuclear-Arsenal-Desktop 825Pakistans-Nuclear-Arsenal-Desktop 825

Source: Pakistani Nuclear Forces, 2015; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

An estimated 16 warheads could be fired atop the short-range Ghaznavi (named after the 11th-century Afghan invader Mahmud Ghazni) ballistic missile. With a range of 270 km to 350 km, it can target Ludhiana, Ahmedabad and the outer perimeter of Delhi.

Pakistan has an estimated 16 nuclear-tipped Shaheen1 (falcon), short-range ballistic missiles (IRBM), having a 750 km range which can reach Ludhiana, Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad.

Pakistan has an estimated six 60-km range Nasr missiles, which could be mated to nuclear weapons. These tactical nuclear missiles could target “advancing battle formations of the Indian Army”, according to Patil. These missiles could be what Asif referred to.

Pakistan also has eight nuclear-tipped 350-km Babur cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.

An estimated 36 nuclear warheads, accounting for 28 percent of Pakistan’s total, can be delivered using aircraft. US-made F-16 A/B aircraft can deliver 24 nuclear bombs while the French-made Mirage III/V can deliver 12.

India’s triad: Submarine, missile and aircraft

India has deployed 56 Prithvi (earth) and Agni (fire) series of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, which carry 53 percent of India’s 106 estimated warheads, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

This doesn’t take into account the estimated 12 warheads for the K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which India has possibly produced for the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant.

Once commissioned, Arihant would give India a strategic nuclear triad and second strike capability, as this July 2015 IndiaSpend report notes.

“Given the smaller geographical size of Pakistan,” said Patil, India would likely target “Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi and the Pakistani Army Armed Corps headquarters at Nowshera”.

However, he cautioned: “The fallout of the nuclear attacks on Lahore and Karachi, for instance, would not just be restricted to the Pakistani territory, and depending on the wind directions, can affect both Indian and Afghan border territories.”

Indias-Nuclear-Arsenal-Desktop 825Indias-Nuclear-Arsenal-Desktop 825

Source: Indian Nuclear Forces, 2015; Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

The 250 km-range Prithvi SRBM acts as a delivery system for 24 of India’s warheads. These are capable of hitting major Pakistani cities, such as Lahore, Sialkot, the capital Islamabad, and Rawalpindi, according to this May 2015 IndiaSpend analysis.

India has 20 nuclear-tipped Agni I SRBM and eight Agni II intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), with ranges of 700 km and 2,000 km, respectively. These are capable of covering almost all Pakistani cities, including Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta and Gwadar.

Agni III, IV and V, with their longer ranges, might be able to reach all of Pakistan, but it can be safely said that they are directed more towards China.

IndiaSpend-Logo11 (1)IndiaSpend-Logo11 (1)

India also possesses an estimated two ship-launched 350-km range Dhanush SRBM, which could be fitted with nuclear warheads.

India’s aircraft can deliver an estimated 45 percent of 106 warheads. The Indian Air Force’s Jaguar fighter bombers can deliver about 16 nuclear warheads, while the French-built Mirage-2000 fleet can deliver 32.

Indiaspend.org is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit

India’s NSG bid ‘ill-advised’, membership won’t make much difference: AEC member

Noted scientist and Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) member M R Srinivasan on Saturday said the Centre’s push to gain Nuclear Suppliers Group membership was “unnecessary, unwarranted and ill-advised”, a day after India failed in its bid to clinch membership of the 48-member club.The AEC, a body under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), would have advised the government to desist from such a move had it been consulted, he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Srinivasan, a former Chairman of the AEC, which looks after atomic energy activities in the country, argued that NSG membership does not make a difference to India’s nuclear commerce as New Delhi has signed agreements with other countries for supply of reactors and uranium. “Unnecessarily, India made a big hype about this admission into the NSG. It was completely unnecessary because the 2008 waiver was already enabling us to have nuclear commerce with nuclear advanced countries and we already have agreements with Russia, France and the United States for reactor projects…,” he said in an interview to PTI today.India also has uranium buying agreement with multiple countries, including Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia, Srinivasan noted, adding it was an “unwarranted and ill-advised initiative” to seek entry into the group of nuclear-supplier countries set up in 1974.The Padma Bhushan awardee said failure to get in NSG would not have adverse impact on India’s nuclear programme as New Delhi has its own capability “for designing and building reactors and fuel manufacturing, reprocessing and so on.” “On the ground, it won’t make any difference (on failure to get NSG membership). We already have a waiver. We are already having cooperation with important countries and countries who are able to supply uranium. There was no need for us to subject ourselves to embarrassment. Unfortunately, our (India’s) self-esteem has been dented (with this failure),” the well-known 86-year-old nuclear scientist said.”(Had) the matter been initially brought to the Atomic Energy Commission, (of) which I am still a member, and if they (the Government) had asked if we (the Government) should proceed with this issue (seeking NSG entry), I would have said the same thing — ‘don’t raise the issue’,” he said.”But it was not brought to the Atomic Energy Commission. It’s unfortunate. It was thought to be the preserve of Foreign Office…Ministry of External Affairs…I do not know. Needless drama (India’s diplomatic push on NSG membership) has gone on for a number of days,” he said.

NSG membership push by India “unnecessary, ill-advised and unwarranted”: Srinivasan

Hyderabad: Noted scientist and Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) member M R Srinivasan said on Saturday that the Centre’s push to gain Nuclear Suppliers Group membership was “unnecessary, unwarranted and ill-advised”, a day after India failed in its bid to clinch membership of the 48-member club.

The AEC, a body under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), would have advised the government to desist from such a move had it been consulted, he said.

Srinivasan, a former Chairman of the AEC, which looks after atomic energy activities in the country, argued that NSG membership does not make a difference to India’s nuclear commerce as New Delhi has signed agreements with other countries for supply of reactors and uranium.

“Unnecessarily, India made a big hype about this admission into the NSG. It was completely unnecessary because the 2008 waiver was already enabling us to have nuclear commerce with nuclear advanced countries and we already have agreements with Russia, France and the United States for reactor projects…,” he said in an interview to PTI.

India also has uranium buying agreement with multiple countries, including Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia, Srinivasan noted, adding it was an “unwarranted and ill-advised initiative” to seek entry into the group of nuclear-supplier countries set up in 1974.

The Padma Bhushan awardee said failure to get in NSG would not have adverse impact on India’s nuclear programme as New Delhi has its own capability “for designing and building reactors and fuel manufacturing, reprocessing and so on.”

Representational image. Getty imagesRepresentational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

“On the ground, it won’t make any difference (on failure to get NSG membership). We already have a waiver. We are already having cooperation with important countries and countries who are able to supply uranium. There was no need for us to subject ourselves to embarrassment. Unfortunately, our (India’s) self-esteem has been dented (with this failure),” the well-known 86-year-old nuclear scientist said.

“(Had) the matter been initially brought to the Atomic Energy Commission, (of) which I am still a member, and if they (the Government) had asked if we (the Government) should proceed with this issue (seeking NSG entry), I would have said the same thing — ‘don’t raise the issue’,” he said.

“But it was not brought to the Atomic Energy Commission. It’s unfortunate. It was thought to be the preserve of Foreign Office…Ministry of External Affairs…I do not know. Needless drama (India’s diplomatic push on NSG membership) has gone on for a number of days,” he said.

Srinivasan, who played a key role in the development of India’s nuclear power programme and Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR), said that no evaluation was made about the perceived benefits of NSG membership.

“…whether we should have put so much efforts…Prime Minister going to so many countries, canvassing (for NSG entry). Somebody from Foreign Office who has done evaluation, either they did evaluation and their assumptions were not borne out or evaluation was not properly carried out. I am unhappy that we should put so much importance to this thing (NSG membership),” he said.

Needless expectations were raised on becoming part of the group and so much political capital at the highest level
of Government of India and Prime Minister was deployed for the purpose, the noted scientist said.

“It was a quest we could have well avoided and an embarrassment we could well have avoided,” he said, pointing out that India should have sensed the mood with China and some other countries raising objections to India’s membership.

He also found fault with the media’s description of the NSG as an “elite group”.

“How can a 48-member NSG be an elite group? It got members like New Zealand, Ireland…all these people who have no nuclear programme of any kind,” he said.

MoEF panel asks Jharkhand to examine alleged violations at India’s oldest uranium mine in Jaduguda

An expert forest panel of the union environment ministry has sought a detailed report on alleged violation of forest conservation Act and mining lease at India’s oldest uranium mine in Jaduguda, East Singhbhum in Jharkhand, operating since 1967, ministry documents show. It has also deferred the Uranium Corporation of India Limited’s (UCIL) application for renewal of forest clearance that is required to operate the mine on 135 hectares of forest land, with 100 hectares of underground mining and the rest overground. The forest land, though not part of any protected wildlife area is a part of the Singhbum elephant reserve.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The UCIL is a public-sector enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy and is responsible for mining uranium ore that is processed and fed to the country’s nuclear power plants.The regional chief conservator of forest, Jamshedpur, had submitted on record that in 2014, UCIL operated the mines even after the expiry of mining lease in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and had directed UCIL to stop all work on forest land. Accordingly, the divisional forest officer, Jamshedpur directed UCIL to stop mining on forest land. The panel noted that mining lease was granted for a period of twenty years between 1997 and 2007 but later, it could not get the lease renewed. UCIL though has claimed that Deparment of Mines and Geology, Jharkhand, has granted mining lease renewal up to 2027. Senior UCIL officials could not be reached for a comment.The expert panel while deferring recommendation for forest clearance has asked the state government to submit a report on violation of lease within two weeks along with present status of forest land in the proposed area.The panel has also asked the state authorities to clarify on the discrepancy in the dates of lease renewal and specify the period of which the mine was operating without a valid lease in violation of Forest Conservation Act, 1980.In addition to this, the state government has to also examine and submit a detailed report on under what authority UCIL was allowed to carry out the mining operations without approval of the ministry, collection of penal compensatory afforestation and additional net present value.As per UCIL’s website it is currently operating six underground mines in Bagjata, Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar, Turamdih and Mohuldih and one open pit mine Banduhurang in Jharkhand. Ore from these mines is processed in two plants at Jaduguda and Turamdih. The company is constructing a new underground mine and process plant at Tummalapalle in Andhra Pradesh and as part of its expansion is setting up new mines and in Karnataka, Telanagana nd Meghalaya.Submit report in 2 weeksThe expert panel while deferring recommendation for forest clearance has asked the state government to submit a report on violation of lease within two weeks along with present status of forest land in the proposed area. The panel has also asked the state authorities to clarify on the discrepancy in the dates of lease renewal and specify the period of which the mine was operating without a valid lease in violation of Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

India, US sign MoU for setting up LIGO project

India and the US on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for setting up a new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in India that will play significant role in carrying forward frontline research on various aspects of gravitational wave astronomy.The MoU comes about a month after the Union Cabinet approved the construction of the long-awaited third LIGO interferometer.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Department of Atomic Energy Secretary Sekhar Basu and the US’ National Science Foundation (NSF) France Cordova signed the MoU in this regard in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Modi, who is currently in the US to attend the two-day Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), met scientists of LIGO who recently proved gravitational waves theory. He also interacted with the Indian scientists who are part of the LIGO project.Prime Minister described the LIGO project as a great example of India-US scientific collaboration and said the success of this project could well inspire an entire young generation of Indian scientists.He urged the Indian scientists who are part of the LIGO project to interact with Indian students and visit Indian universities, as much as possible.The Cabinet, he said, has already approved USD1200 crores for the project.”Now that India has decided to be part of the project, the possibility is that India would be central to the LIGO project, partly on account of the fact that geography favors us,” External Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters. “It would come up hopefully in the next five to seven years,” Swarup said.Cordova explained how India was extremely important for the future of the LIGO project.”Today is an exciting day because it offers the promise of deepening our understanding and opening an even wider window to our universe. This MOU is the first step toward an additional gravitational wave detector, located in India,” Cordova said.”With this new commitment to collaboration, NSF’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (better known as LIGO), and its hundreds of associated scientists worldwide, are positioned to take this nascent field of gravitational wave science to the next level,” he said.”Once in place, a third detector would be able to ‘triangulate’ the source of gravitational waves and thus make other, more detailed observations,” he added.”We look forward to working closely with our Indian colleagues in this endeavor to further our knowledge of the most energetic phenomena in the cosmos,” Cordova said.The construction of the long-awaited third LIGO interferometer, expected to be functional by 2023, will significantly improve the ability of scientists to pinpoint the sources of gravitational waves and analyse the signals.

India-US to sign MoU for building LIGO project tomorrow

India and US will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Thursday for building a state-of-the-art LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational – wave Observatory) project in the country, almost a month after the discovery of gravitational waves. The MoU will be signed between the National Science Foundation USA and India’s Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>LIVE England vs New Zealand 1st Semi-Final T20, ICC World T20 2016, March 30, 2016DAE secretary Sekhar Basu will be signing the agreement in USA tomorrow. The MoU also states of forming a Joint Oversight Group (JOG) with the scientists from NSF, DAE and DST for better coordination of the project. The government last month gave an “in-principle approval” for establishing the LIGO-India project which will establish a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory in India in collaboration with the LIGO Laboratory in the US, run by Caltech and MIT.The project will bring unprecedented opportunities for scientists and engineers to dig deeper into the realm of gravitational wave and take global leadership in this new astronomical frontier. A meeting to decide the site for setting up the laboratory in India will be take place by April 10. LIGO-India will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of an 8 km-long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain.Indian scientists too played a crucial role in the recent discovery. The machines that gave scientists their first-ever glimpse at gravitational waves are the most advanced detectors ever built for sensing tiny vibrations in the universe. The two US-based underground detectors are known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO for short.One is located in Hanford, Washington and the other in Livingston, Louisiana.

Ladakh may get world’s largest telescope

The world’s largest telescope project may come up in Ladakh after facing hurdles in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, which was the first preferred choice.Hanle in Ladakh has reportedly been shortlisted for the $1.47-billion project by Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) International observatory, reported a leading daily.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”After the February meeting, the board has decided on two prospective sites – Hanle and another in Chile. Yes, it was an unexpected turn for the project which got delayed due to the decision of the Hawaiian supreme court,” TMT India programme director B Eswar Reddy told the daily.
ALSO READ China rushes to finish world’s largest telescopeThe Hawaii Supreme Court had in December 2015 cancelled the permit issued to TMT for constructing the observatory following claims that the plot in Mauna Kea was sacred, the report said.”Meanwhile, the project is also looking for prospective sites both in northern and southern hemispheres, including Hanle,” he added.India is reportedly expected to invest $212 million in the project. Meanwhile, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bengaluru and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, along with two government departments – the department of science and technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) – have been working on the project since 2013.

India’s nuclear facilities face ‘insider threats’, says a US report

Washington: Even though Indian atomic facilities do not face terrorist threats as serious as those in Pakistan, a US report on preventing nuclear terrorism has expressed concern over “insider threats” against India’s nuclear assets.

Representational image. GettyImages

Representational image. GettyImages

“There are concerns about insider threats within Indian nuclear facilities,” said report titled ‘Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Continuous Improvement or Dangerous Decline?’ released by the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington this month.

India faces significant insider corruption though it is thought to be less severe than in Pakistan or Russia, it said.

In 2014, Vijay Singh, a CISF head constable at the Kalpakkam Atomic Power Station, shot and killed three people with his service rifle.

Although the CISF had a personnel reliability programme in place, it was not able to detect Singh’s deteriorating mental health, despite multiple red flags including him saying that he was about to “explode like a firecracker”, the report said.

“Given the limited information available about India’s nuclear security measures, it is difficult to judge whether India’s nuclear security is capable of protecting against the threats it faces,” the report said.

“Although India has taken significant measures to protect its nuclear sites, recent reports suggest that its nuclear security measures may be weaker than those of Pakistan, though likely adversary threats in India are less extreme. Overall, the risk appears to be moderate, and there is no clear trend, either upward or downward,” it said.

Noting that India has a relatively small stockpile of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear material at a limited number of sites, which are believed to be heavily guarded, the report said unlike Pakistan, India has a civilian plutonium reprocessing program.

According to the report, US officials have reportedly ranked Indian nuclear security measures as weaker than those of Pakistan and Russia, and US experts visiting the sensitive Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 2008 described the security arrangements there as “extraordinarily low key”.

The threats to India’s nuclear security systems have to confront appear to be significant — though not as great as the threats that exist in Pakistan, it said.

India faces threats both domestically and from attacks by terrorist groups based in Pakistan.

The report cited the 2 January Pathankot airbase attack by heavily-armed militants of the Jaish-e-Mohammed that killed seven security personnel.

The attackers were able to infiltrate the base by climbing over a tree that had grown along the side of a security fence in an area where floodlights were not operating, it said.

PTI

Greenpeace demands probe into all ‘aging’ heavy water reactors

Greenpeace India on demanded a probe by independent experts into all “aging” heavy water reactors in the country even and alleged the country’s nuclear regulator has failed to ascertain the reason behind the recent “serious” incident at Kakrapar Atomic Power Station in Gujarat.One of the two 220 MW units of Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) in Surat district was shut down on March 11 after leakage of heavy water and a temporary emergency situation was declared but there was no radioactive leak and all workers were safe. “The Kakrapar accident was likely caused by degrading components and we’re concerned similar aging effects could cause accidents at other aging heavy water reactors. “We need independent expert investigation into the Kakrapar accident and the immediate inspection of all other aging heavy water reactors,” said Hozefa Merchant, Greenpeace campaigner. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Greenpeace India said, “The demand for investigation comes as the Indian nuclear regulator failed to identify the leak within 72 hours of the accident.”The NGO said although the reactor was shut down, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had stated that the leak was significant enough to be considered a level 1 accident on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). It said the Kakrapar unit 1, a pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWRs) based on CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium) design, is over 20 years old and seven others, out of the current 18 in India, are of similar design and as old.”Any mishap in these reactors could endanger the lives of over four million people living around a 30 km-radius around these eight reactors,” it said. The population within the 30 km radius around Kakrapar is close to a million people, it said, adding, four of the oldest reactors are located in Rawatbhata in Rajasthan and Chennai in Tamil Nadu.The green body said the risk of accidents increase with age in CANDU reactors, with the inevitable degradation of hundreds of pipes that hold the fuel and transport heavy water. “Due to increasing accident risks, CANDU reactors typically need to be shut down and ‘completely retubed’ after about 25 years of operation in order to continue operating safely,” Greenpeace India said.

5 years later, Gujarat’s nuclear power plant leaks again; no threat of radiation exposure

As the world observes the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, closer home a minor leak was reported from one of the two units of Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) near Vyara district in South Gujarat. According to reports, the 220 megawatt (MW) power plant at KAPS automatically shut down after a heavy water leak was detected in the primary heat transport (PHT) system of the plant on Friday morning.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>KAPS officials claimed nobody was exposed to radiation and a team was working to find out what caused it. This is not the first time a leak has been reported in KAPS. In August 2011, seven workers were said to have been exposed to radiation while they working in a spent fuel transfer duct (SFTD) tunnel.Asked about a contingency plan in case of a nuclear disaster, KAPS site director LK Jain said the design of the station as well as security measures in place were such that there was no chance of a radiation leak.Interestingly, just after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, GSDMA had commissioned a study of the vicinity of KAPS and sought an emergency evacuation plan from IIMA professor Debjit Roy and his students.The IIMA team had come up with a plan that would help speedy evacuation of people around the atomic power plant in case of emergency. According to the study, people in the vicinity of the plant need to be evacuated within three hours. It stated that the emergency planning zone around KAPS had been calculated as 16 km radius around the main plant. The team had suggested formation of first safety points at each village around the site where necessary health support could be provided.The latest leakOfficials called the leak detected on Friday a minor one and added that other systems in the plant were functioning as usual.“According to the design, the power plant automatically shuts down in the event of a technical error — which was the case this time too. Nobody has been exposed to radiation and radiological conditions inside and outside the plant are stable,” said Jain.He said the cause of the leakage was still being ascertained and power would be restored in KAPS 1 only after the issue was sorted out. “It is difficult to say exactly when power will be restored in the plant,” he added.Sources said a team from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) head office in Mumbai and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) will also visit Kakrapar for investigation.“A team is expected to visit the plant within a week to find out if the error was human or technical. A departmental probe has already been initiated and statements of those on duty when the leakage took place have been recorded by plant officials,” said a top official.Meanwhile, Surat district collector Dr Rajendra Kumar urged people to ignore rumours saying the situation was completely under control and there was nothing to worry about.How and where the leak happenedIn a nuclear power reactor, the energy released is used as heat to make steam that generates electricity. Water in the pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) is kept at a temperature of over 300°C and under pressure in the primary cooling or heat transfer circuit. The secondary circuit is under less pressure and the water here boils in heat exchangers that generate steam. The steam drives a turbine to produce electricity, and is then condensed and returned to the heat exchangers in contact with the primary circuit. On Friday, the leakage took place in a system that was transferring heat from the primary to the secondary unit.KAPS 2 regularly maintainedKAPS has two PHWR power plants—KAPS 1 and KAPS 2. Currently, KAPS 2 has been shut down for maintenance work. The plantKAPS 1 started operations in May 1993 and KAPS 2 in September 1995. Both plants have a capacity of 220 MW.Two new units— KAPS 3 and KAPS 4 — are being developed with a capacity of 700 MW each

GM Mustard yields compared with older varieties, claims NDDB consultant and activists

The Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11) or Genetically Modified Mustard’s yield does not give better yields than currently available non-GM varieties and hybrids and during trials, it was compared with weaker and older hybrids, claimed the Coalition for GM-Free India and an ex-scientist from Bhabha Atomic Research centre on Thursday. The GM Mustard crop, developed by former Delhi Universitry vice-chancellor Deepak Pental, has been developed with National Dairy Development Board funding. Pental has refuted the allegations made on Thursday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The GM Mustard crop has also reached the Centre to seek permission for comemrcial cultivation, but clearance has been deferred as the environment ministry has asked for more bio-safety data on the crop. It has been claimed that the DMH-11 or GM Mustard increases yield by nearly 25 to 30 per cent. But according to Sharad Pawar, a former consultant working with the NDDB and an ex-scientist working with eh Bhabha Atomic Research Centre said on Thursday that non-GM varieties such as NRCHB-506, Coral-437 and DMH-1 are equally good, have been commercialized and are cost effective too.Pawar has even written a letter to union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on this issue. In the letter, Pawar says that the comparisons of GM Mustard yield was not done with crops approved by the Indian Council For Agricultural Research and other concerned authorities. “I learnt that comparison has been shown with weaker varieties which provide the impression that transgenic hybrid is a better performer.”According to data provided by Coalition for GM Free India and Sharad Pawar that they claimed to be official, the comparison of GM Mustard yield between 2009 and 2014 in the zonal checks was done with varieties that were discontinued as per protocol.Responding to these allegations, Deepak Pental told dna, “These allegations are baseless and are plain mischief. Has ICAR said that the tests and checks were incorrect? All these checks on yields were done under ICAR approval.”

India makes push for CERN associate membership

India on Monday made a fresh push towards seeking associate membership of the prestigious European Organisation for Nuclear Research, popularly known as CERN.A high-level delegation of the Geneva-based scientific body met Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardha and Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh. “We have reiterated our commitments towards the CERN and take it forward,” Vardhan said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian scientists from the Departments of Atomic Energy and Science & Technology have been actively participating and collaborating with CERN. The application to become associated member of the body was mooted by the government in August 2015.The delegation also discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest including the status of India’s application for the associate membership of CERN. The major advantage of associate membership of CERN is that it will entitle India to become a part of a huge scientific and technological endeavour.This will also offer an opportunity to Indian industry to bid for CERN contracts for industrial collaboration in advanced technologies. The delegation was led by Charlotte Warakaulle, Director for International Relations and Task Force Convenor, Olivier Martin, Eckhard Elsen, Rudiger Voss, Maurizio Vretenar and Sue Foffano. Pakistan is also an associate member of CERN.Established in 1954, it is the world’s largest body of experts in nuclear and particle physics, where scientists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe by using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced systems.CERN is the birthplace of “www” (World Wide Web). The touch screen technology widely used in smartphones was also first developed by CERN.

Union cabinet gives ‘in principle approval’ to establish LIGO, India’s gravitational wave observatory

New Delhi: In a major boost to Indian science research, the Union cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to establish a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory in India in collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US.

The “in principle” approval for the LIGO-India project for research on gravitational waves — a discovery that is regarded as the breakthrough of the century — is piloted by the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology (DST), a press release said.

The project will bring unprecedented opportunities for scientists and engineers to dig deeper into the realm of gravitational wave and take global leadership in this new astronomical frontier.

The LIGO-India project will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting-edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of the eight-km long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain.

Concrete and stainless steel tubes house and protect the four-kilometer long laser apparatuses at the LIGO Hanford Observatory in Hanford, Washington. File photo ReutersConcrete and stainless steel tubes house and protect the four-kilometer long laser apparatuses at the LIGO Hanford Observatory in Hanford, Washington. File photo Reuters

Concrete and stainless steel tubes house and protect the four-kilometer long laser apparatuses at the LIGO Hanford Observatory in Hanford, Washington. File photo Reuters

Confirming a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity, scientists including several of Indian-origin this month observed gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of space time, arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his happiness over the historic detection of gravitational waves and lauded the role of Indian scientists in the project.

“Historic detection of gravitational waves opens up new frontier for understanding of universe. Immensely proud that Indian scientists played an important role in this challenging quest,” he tweeted.

Dubbed as the breakthrough of the century, the international team of scientists believes that the detection of gravitational waves will open an unprecedented new window to the cosmos.

Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot be obtained from elsewhere.

Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole.

This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.

The twin LIGO detectors are located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington.

The LIGO observatories are funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), and were conceived, built and are operated by Caltech and MIT.

IANS

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