Chennai, June 9 (IANS) The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) Saturday moved a step towards the commissioning of its first 1,000 megawatt reactor with the conduct of an off-site emergency exercise at Nakkanery village, around seven km from the plant.
However, anti-KNPP protestors termed the safety drill as a sham and a deceptive exercise.
According to a statement issued by Tirunelveli district collector R. Selvaraj, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), which is building the KNPP, and the district administration carried out the off-site emergency exercise as per regulatory requirement and biennial programme.
KNPP shift in-charge engineer declared a plant emergency in the morning, following which the site director reached the plant and declared start of the emergency exercise, the statement said.
Alert messages flashed to officials of the NPCIL, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the district collector and other district officials.
Based on the inputs given by the Environmental Survey Lab team, the district collector declared off-site emergency and carried out measures detailed in the emergency plan.
Nakkanery village, located about seven km from the plant, was selected as locally affected area for the purpose of the exercise.
However, S.P. Udayakumar, coordinator of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), said: "The off-site emergency drill is nothing but sham and deceptive."
The district administration should explain why they did not clearly announce to the people about the disaster management exercise and why the media was not invited, he told IANS over phone from Idinthakarai village near the project.
Reacting to this, R.S. Sundar, site director of the KNPP, said: "The district administration was in communication with the people of Nakkanery village."
He said there was no particular requirement on the selection of area for holding the off-site emergency mock exercise. "Based on the wind direction, we select the location, and here in this mock drill it was decided Nakkanery village was apt one."
He said a media statement had been issued by the district administration post event.
Sundar said the drill consisted of three parts -- urging people to stay indoors, distribution of iodine tablets, and evacuation.
"All these three activities were done successfully today (Saturday). Though it was a mock drill, all the emergency requirements were there," he said.
India's atomic power plant operator NPCIL is building two 1,000 MW reactors - supplied by Russia - in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli, around 650 km from here.