KUDANKULAM NUCLEAR PLANT SAFETY
AERB & BARC RESPONSIBLE.
MoEF, CPCB, SPCB MINIMAL FORMAL ROLE.
The National Environment Policy, 2006 sets human beings at the centre of sustainable development. People are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. The object of environmental governance is to be achieved by application of ‘ the principles of good governance ( transparency, nationality, accountability, reduction in time and cost, participation, and regulatory independence) to the management and regulation of use of environmental resources. The above object is based on the principles ‘depending upon their relevance feasibility in relation of the cost, and technical and administrative aspects of their application.
(1.2) ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARD SETTING:
The environmental standards must reflect the economic and social development situation in which they apply. Standard adopted in one society or context may have unacceptable economic and social costs if applied without discrimination in another society or context. Setting environmental standard would involve several considerations, i.e. risk to human health, risk to other environmental entities, technical feasibility, cost of compliance, and strategic considerations.
(1.3) PREVENTIVE ACTION:
It is preferable to preventenvironmental damage from occurring in the first place, rather than attempting to restore degraded environmental resources after the fact.
… Extracts from National Environment Policy, 2006, Government of India.
ENVIRONMENT( PROTECTION) RULES, 1986:
Rule 12 of the EP Rules, 1986 provides names of agencies which are to be intimated in case of discharge of pollutants in excess of the prescribed standard or apprehension of accident or other unforeseen event, namely
Disaster management agencies at the district or state level.
Central Pollution Control Board.
State Pollution Control Board.
Statutory Authorities and Agencies specified in column 3 in schedule v to these rules which are reproduced below:
Factories as defined under the Factories Act, 1948-
(a) Owned by the Central Government and engaged in carrying out the purposes of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962
(i) Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)
(ii) The Ministry of Environment & Forests
The Atomic Energy Act, 1962.
GENERAL STANDARDS FOR DISCHARGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANTS.
SCHEDULE –VI: ( See Rule 3(3a):
Radio Active Materials:
(a) Alpha emitters
[Micro curie/ml] Max
Inland surface water
Land for Irrigation
Marine Costal Areas.
HAZARDOUS WASTES MANAGEMENT RULES 2008
Rule 2. Application : The rules shall apply to the handling hazardous wastes as specified in the schedules and shall not apply to:
radio- active wastes as covered under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (33 of 1962), and the rules made there under;
The Atomic Energy Act, 1962
Section 2(i): Radio active substance or radio active material means any substance or material which spontaneously emits radiations in excess of the levels
prescribed by notification by the central government.
Section 3 (c) The central government shall have power to declare as ‘restricted information’ any information not so far published or otherwise made public relating to:
To provide for the production and supply of electricity from atomic energy and for taking measures conducive to such production and supply and for all matters incidental thereto; [either by itself or through any authority or corporation established by it or a government company]
Section 18(i): The Central government may by order restrict the disclosure of information:
Nothing in this section shall apply:
to the disclosure of information with respect to any plant of a type in use for purposes other than the production, development or use of atomic energy, UNLESS the information discloses that plant of the type is used or proposed to be used for the production, development or use of atomic energy or research into any matters connected therewith;
4.2. The Supreme Court in AIR 2004 SC 1442 PUCL Vs. UOI, in para 68 says, “once provisions of Section 18 of the Act, and the order framed there under are held to be intra vires, the only question which arises for consideration is as to whether exercise of such power should be held to be invalid by this court. The jurisdiction of this court in such matter is very limited. The court will not normally exercise its power of judicial review in such matters unless it is found that formation of belief by the statutory authority suffers from mala fied, dis- honesty or corrupt practice. The order can be set aside if it is held to be beyond the limits for which the power has been conferred upon the authorities by the legislature or is based on the grounds extraneous to the legislation and if there are no grounds at all for passing it or if the grounds are such that no one can reasonably arrive at the opinion or satisfaction required there under. No such case has been made out by the appellant.” (PUCL)
Section 28 : EFFECTS OF OTHER LAWS: The provisions of the Act shall have effect not withstanding any thing consistent therewith contained in any enactment other than this Act or any other instrument having effect by virtue of any enactment other than this act.
BARC AGENCY FOR MEASURING RADAITION.
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is the only agency qualified for measuring radiation and its services are available to all nuclear power plants.. The data collected by other agencies is sent to it for analysis. In the case of (1987) 3 SCC 231 M.K.Sharma Versus Bharat Electronics, the supreme court in para 4 states, “4. The Respondent Company has a system of film badges for measuring radiation absorbed during a month and the data which is sent to the BARC for evaluation on monthly basis. The result of such analysis shall be duly publicised and would also be communicated to the petitioner- union at reasonable intervals.”
Reading of the above relevant extracts leads to only one conclusion that in India the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and BARC are the two agencies responsible for matters relating to production and supply of electricity from atomic energy and to ensure safe disposal of radio active wastes. The Ministry of Environment,Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Board play a formal limited role only because they neither have the expertise nor the necessary equipment to analyse radiation from radio active material/wastes. Thus, in view of the above conclusion even though environmental clearance notification 1994/2006 (amended from time to time) may legally apply to a new atomic energy producing plant but in fact the entire regulatory responsibility is of AERB and not MoEF.
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA