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Nuclear Karachi

Published Dec 16, 2013 07:18am


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WORK has started on preparing the site for two large nuclear power plants in Karachi. Each of these reactors will be larger than the combined power of all the nuclear reactors currently operating in Pakistan.

This will be by far the largest nuclear construction project ever in Pakistan. It is not too late to ask a few basic questions so that people, especially those living in Karachi, know what they may be letting themselves in for.

Everyone knows the new reactors are being purchased from China. They will be designed and built by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

What people may not know is that the reactors will be based on a design known as the ACP-1000 that is still under development by this Chinese nuclear power company. In effect, Pakistanis are buying reactors for the Karachi site that so far exist only on paper and in computer programmes — there is no operating reactor in China based on this design.

It was reported in April 2013 that the CNNC, the developer of the ACP-1000, had completed a “preliminary safety analysis report”, and was “working on construction design”.

This means so far there is not even a complete design. Since the new Karachi reactors will be the first of a kind, no one knows how safe they will be or how well they will work. The 20 million people of Karachi are being used as subjects in a giant nuclear safety experiment.

The Fukushima nuclear accident has shown that safety systems can fail catastrophically. The accident in 2011 struck Japanese reactors of a well-established design that had been operating for decades. Still, all kinds of things happened that were not expected by the reactor operators or managers or by nuclear safety authorities.

An important lesson of Fukushima is that nuclear establishments underestimate the likelihood and severity of possible accidents. Another important lesson is that these same establishments overestimate their ability to cope with a real nuclear disaster.

At Fukushima, the nuclear authorities failed dismally despite Japan’s legendary organisational capability, technological sophistication and social discipline.

Nearly 200,000 people living close to the Fukushima reactors were evacuated and some may never be allowed to return. Radiation was blown by the wind and contaminated the land to distances of over 30 km.

The US suggested its citizens living in that area of Japan move at least 80km away from the reactor. The government of Japan considered forced evacuation of everyone living within 170km of the reactor site and organising voluntary evacuation for people living as far as 250km from the plant.

Contaminated food and water was found at distances of 250km.

The financial cost of the clean-up so far is estimated to be about $100 billion and could eventually be much higher.

So how big, how dangerous and how costly is the nuclear experiment about to be carried out in Karachi?

An analysis undertaken two years ago, in 2011, by the science magazine Nature and Columbia University in New York showed that the nuclear reactor site in Karachi has more people living within 30km than any other reactor site in the world.

It found that, in 2011, there were eight million Karachi citizens living within this distance of the reactor. All of Karachi falls within 40km of the reactor site.

So far, there have been no public hearings or discussions of the suitability of the site for the new Karachi reactors. There is no report of an Environment Impact Assessment for the proposed new Karachi reactors. Neither the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission nor the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority has explained what will happen in case of an accident at the proposed reactor.

A preliminary study by one of the authors found that the plume of radioactive material that could be released from a severe nuclear accident could be blown eastward by the wind over the city, engulfing the most populous areas of Karachi.

There is also no information on the terms for the supply of nuclear fuel, such as how long the very hot, intensely radioactive spent nuclear fuel will stay at the site and how will it be safely stored until it is returned to China, if it is returned at all. The spent fuel stored at Fukushima was damaged in the accident and led to the release of radioactivity.

Finally, there is no information on what emergency plans, including for possible evacuation, have been drawn up as part of preparing for these large new reactors. There is no information whether such plans even exist.

Here is a question for those in charge of Karachi, in charge of Sindh and the federal authorities in Islamabad: how do you propose to evacuate many millions of people from Karachi in case of a severe nuclear accident at the new reactors?

One expects mass panic, with people deciding to save themselves and their families as best as they could, clogging the roads, and delaying the escape of others closer to the reactor. Can any plan work in such an environment?

Finally, there is the cost in terms of money. Reports suggest the two reactors may cost $9-10 billion. They will be paid for by taking loans from China. There is little information on the details of the financing of the reactors, including the final cost of decommissioning and waste disposal.

There is not even a publicly available government study showing that these reactors are the least-cost option for producing the expected amount of electricity.

The issue of cost also must include the consequences of accidents. If there is an accident at the new Karachi reactors due to a problem with the reactor design or the construction, who will pay the vast sums needed to cover the damage and clean-up — Pakistan or China?

The people of Karachi have a right to know the answers to these questions. It is time they started asking.

The writers are physicists with an interest in nuclear issues.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (100) Closed

iqbal carrim Dec 16, 2013 11:09am

Following the Fukishima disaster in Japan,the world has learnt many lessons.To put it simply,nuclear power is a high risk bet at the cost of human tragedy and irreversible,environment damage and the enlightened society is moving away from it.Clean ,renewable energy such as abounding, solar power in the case of Pakistan is what the authorities should explore.

Addy Dec 16, 2013 12:15pm

Just bow your heads and accept. That's how we deal with China.

vvd Dec 16, 2013 12:21pm

Very rightly said.This whole matter appears to be done in haste without deep thought.Hope the concerned authorities will do the needful.

Ibn-e-Ashfaque Dec 16, 2013 12:39pm

Karachi like other parts of the country are never consulted by the elite. That is the sad reality on the ground. Democracy is only used to justify their hold on power but they never care to consult all the stakeholders. Thanks for Dawn to bring up this important issue.

Saeed Motiwala Dec 16, 2013 12:40pm

Valid questions that should be answered before a project like this progresses any further. Karachiites need to band together and raise these questions in an organized fashion.

Danish Ahmed Dec 16, 2013 12:58pm

I completely agree with the analysis. I don't think that the people of Karachi are aware of the danger they are letting themselves into. Just the fact that this is a design which has never been built before, sending chills down my spine. Karachi is a densely populated city of millions and God forbid if there is any catastrophic nuclear plant accident, the damage will be unthinkiable.

Sharjeel Sohaib Dec 16, 2013 01:01pm

All the government will come up with is that 'nuclear reactors' are in the National Interest of Pakistan. In my lifetime of 30 years, I couldn't crack what this 'National Interest' is. The only thing is understand is that currently, most of Pakistan's national interests are against the interests of its own people. The people are dying, long live the 'National Interest'...

Soshal Dec 16, 2013 01:29pm

This is a usual concern for those countries which are headed towards nuclear technology. The backdrop needs to be understood that Pakistan is carving new sources of energy as it faced severe energy crisis of its time. Generating energy from nuclear power plants is a worldwide trend as every country is in dire need to meet its growing energy requirements. In order to reduce energy dependency on one source, countries are more inclined to develop civilian nuclear technology. This should be clear at the initial level that Pakistan is not the only country which is opting for nuclear energy. Everyone is aware of the horrors of nuclear devastation since 1945 but countries are pursuing nuclear ambitions in which the major powers have more active role. If Pakistan is going in nuclear cooperation with China, it is an obvious fact that a comprehensive framework must been drawn before making any progress. Nuclear catastrophe prevails massively without any one

Ahmad Dec 16, 2013 02:16pm

Who are the writers may I know? I have worked at a nuclear reactor myself and would like to discuss this further. Thanks! Ahmad

graham Dec 16, 2013 02:16pm

Good and serious questions.

Ahmad Dec 16, 2013 02:17pm

Well.. That was silly of me. I had not read the names before. Thanks anyway

Ahmad Dec 16, 2013 02:24pm

Dr. Hoodbhoy.. I respectively disagree with the medium you are using to convey this message. This will bring nothing, but fear to the local population who probably do not understand a lot of what you have written.

Jawad Dec 16, 2013 02:25pm

Kudos to the authors for bringing up these important issues. It was not clear from the article whether the authors know the exact location of the proposed sites. The 2011 study that they cite is for the existing KANUPP reactor.

Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad Dec 16, 2013 02:35pm

The energy requirements of Karachi are Important for the very existence of this city as a modern metropolis.The power projects of 2000 MWT capacity,based on oil,coal,gas or Nuclear have nearly equal environmental risk.The dramatic nuclear scare pointed in this article by scientists is no doubt there but from an economic point of view,karachi needs power badly.Recent events show,this region to be of high earthquake strike but great cities like tokyo,San francisko and many other are once again thinking of going nuclear regardless of safety measures which is largely an engineering parameter and not hurdle in the way of clean and high density power set up.The people of karachi must press hard on Provincial and Federal Govt,for a detailed briefing on any such project.I strongly believe that development and disaster like Bhopal Incident,must not come in the way of decision making. Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad Islamabad

s k Dec 16, 2013 02:47pm

Bada negative aadmi hai yaar ye writer .

Sohail Dec 16, 2013 02:50pm

Every nuclear capable country took measures of safety after the incident of Fukushima nuclear plant, Pakistan is running a horizontal tube reactor at KANUPP nuclear plant and it is 12m high above the sea level. In 1945 Tsunami hit the Karachi coast but due to horizontal plates all along the coastal area of Pakistan its height was below 4m, since then there is no such incident. It is just a start to build, definitely before planting and starting the operations, a proper documentation and management plan will be declared for more answers.

Sk Dec 16, 2013 02:50pm

AKA- Operation Cleanup Karachi

El Cid Dec 16, 2013 03:26pm

In this rare exception I agree with the authors of this article and Dawn management.

This is an experiment in new untested incomplete technology and the people of Karachi are directly, and those of Sind and Pakistan indirectly, the guinea pigs. There should be NO doubt about this whatsoever. The risk benefit analysis fails this short sighted project hands down.

Pakistan will be far far more benefited should the same amount was redirected to the Kalabagh Dam Project, put on a fast track.

hg Dec 16, 2013 03:31pm

I read before that the other reactors outside Karachi built by the Chinese were older designs - and probably riskier than the new ones in China right now. It's good that we are finally getting the latest technology but being so new as to be untested/untried introduces other risks for sure.

Masood Akbar Dec 16, 2013 04:23pm

What I am going to write is the last of what I have to say. I will say that literature is the only consciousness we possess and that its role as consciousness must inform us of our ability to comprehend the hideous danger of nuclear power.

Frank Dec 16, 2013 05:00pm

It is mention in this news that an analysis undertaken two years ago, in 2011 which is a fallacy by itself. Chinese companies have had a hard time breaking into markets considered vital to Western national security. But when it comes to nuclear energy, China Inc., backed by the economic might of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, is making a push overseas

Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad Dec 16, 2013 05:00pm

The energy requirements of Karachi need a visionary energy mix as Natural gas,coal and nuclear.The location of a nuclear plant of 2000 mwt capacity close to a suitable spot on arabian sea is quite feasable and environmetal objections raised by our scientists are more of a scare than reality.Economic development of Pakistan needs some bold decisions and public should be taken into confidence to Invest in such useful projects which shall produce clean and high density energy for our growing textile and manufacturing units at a sustainable cost.The spread of radoiactive material is not more harmful than the green house gases from fossil fuels.The radioactive material affect locally but GH gasses have global consequences.The danger of a high magnitude earthquake should be the part of the designe and discussion.Nuclear safety is an engineering parameter and should not be used as a public scare.The objection that nuclear plants to be installed by china are not of proven designe,is not at all valid.Nuclear accidents of the past and recent past were not designe based but human error based.Accidents and disasters are part of technological advancements.The air tavel after so many tragic incidents is on the rise and and popular.Nuclear electricity has entered the arena and I believe it will play a signicant role in a clean and sustainable energy mix of Pakistan.I respect and edorse the views of our nuclear scientists but to scare the citizens of karachi of an accident like Fukushim Japan may be counterproductive for the economic progress of this metropolis. Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad ex chief scientist PAEC

Khanzada Dec 16, 2013 05:15pm

i thought Fukushima was old design, not many safeguards.

Mainland China has 17 nuclear power reactors in operation, 30 under construction, and more about to start construction. Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give a four-fold increase in nuclear capacity to at least 58 GWe by 2020, then possibly 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050. China has become largely self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle, but is making full use of western technology while adapting and improving it.China

Rashid Dec 16, 2013 05:15pm

Thanks Mr Nayyar, Hoodbhoy and Mr Zia for educating us on such an important issue. I hope Govt of Pakistan will not allow this thing to happen in Karachi or any other place in Pakistan, but if they do, it is the duty of people living in Karachi to fight against it till the Govt change it's mind.

Regards, RJ

muzaffar Dec 16, 2013 05:27pm

Lets go somewhere else to live...

Gaurav Dec 16, 2013 06:45pm

Both indians and pakistanis become rhetoric and view this sensitive issue in context of national pride, but I totally agree with this author's view on it. Especially we have had a horrific experience in terms of Union Carbide, and it is a known fact how the government establishment helped Union carbide official to escape. It is sad our rulers have least of concerns for the people and neglect the safety. It makes me shiver thinking an incident like Fukushima or Chernobil would occur.

Khaled Dec 16, 2013 06:59pm

Very informative article, hope our PM gets the time to read it, and discuss the pros and cons during his cabinet meeting.

Waqas Dec 16, 2013 07:13pm

Why being so skeptical and negative in the beginning - atlast we get to hear any positive development in our homeland.

Yes, safety might be questionable and/or comparing it with accident of Fukushima reactor is a senseless debate because happened that was not expected by the reactor managers or by nuclear safety authorities.

Hope for best instead of this negative journalism !

Indian Dec 16, 2013 07:14pm

I have a question for the 3 esteemed nuclear physicists that I have always wondered about.

India does not have any nuclear fuel except for thorium which requires a different type of reactor. India has had to obtain waivers from a number of countries including the Nuclear Suppliers Group to obtain a steady source of nuclear fuel. The whole process took many years.

Now in the case of the reactors to be located in Karachi, where would Pakistan get its nuclear fuel from? Due to past instances of proliferation, I don't expect the NSG to give a waiver to Pakistan. From what I understand, China also cannot supply nuclear fuel unilaterally since it is bound as a member of the NSG.

Would appreciate your reply on this.

Yuvraj Dec 16, 2013 07:18pm

Thermal Power plant of similar capacity (2200 MW) can be easily built for less than $1.5 billion as compared to $10 billion for nuclear power plant. Pakistan is a very rich country indeed !!!!

Yawar Dec 16, 2013 07:47pm

There should be no large population centers within a 50-mile radius of a large nuclear power plant. A license should only be given if the applicant can assure that the entire population within the 50-mile zone can be evacuated within several hours.

shri Dec 16, 2013 09:28pm

i feel that nuclear energy is very expensive for a country like pakistan. If at all you need to go for a nuclear power plant. it needs to be a well tested technology. Something like fukushima killed so many people and this happened in a country like Japan. I dread if something like this happens in india or pakistan. We don't think of safety first at all!. A nuclear accident can kill millions of people and should not be at a place which puts millions of people at risk.

The cheapest alternative will be to import gas from Iran. If pakistan cannot build a pipeline from iran's border and pay for it. How can it afford 8-10 billion dollars to build an nuclear power plant.

Pakistani leadership should concentrate on solutions it can afford and most cost effective rather go on a big ego trip.

Sulman Bhatti Dec 16, 2013 09:37pm

I don't get it. why they have to use Karachi as site for nuclear reactor. There are plenty of less densely populated areas in Pakistan. What about Thar desert installation in that area will lower the risk of accidents because first of all the desert sand absorbs earthquakes better that hard soils and also in Karachi there is always risk of a tsunami with an earthquake.

Their operating costs will be higher because of lack of water. but they should consider the cost of it in terms of a disaster like in Japan case.

independentthinker Dec 16, 2013 10:28pm

I read the whole article, understood everything that was being said but failed to see any alternative that was provided by the authors! We do need electricity - and these reactors are supposed to provide that. If these reactors are not built in Karachi - then where should they be built. Or, should the plan be totally scrapped - because the risks outweigh the benefits. As much as I respect the authors and understand their concerns, I wish they would also offer alternatives. I am sure the Government is not so insensitive to the risks that this project might possess and would not get into it, without ensuring that it's citizens are kept safe. I hope I am right.

independentthinker Dec 16, 2013 10:32pm

@Ahmad: As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address - " Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself" - It appears that is exactly what the authors are trying to do here.

Ashraf Dec 16, 2013 10:36pm

Can anyone trust that whoever in the government is undertaking this project, knows how difficult it is going be to control it in a country where there are so many problems due rampant corruption.laxity, and carelessness? The possibility of things going berserk on a nuclear plant, resulting a huge disaster, is quite high. But who in government gives a hoot to what happens to the people of Karachi? As usual this is suggestive of a case of another wheeling and dealing in the offing.

Mirza Dec 16, 2013 11:56pm

Sorry Hoodbhoy, we all know your biases! I for one am glad you were driven out of LUMS.

HAA Dec 17, 2013 12:04am

Yes we are very rich because we are the Guinea Pig for all others.

dhillon Dec 17, 2013 12:09am

If there are two things together no Pakistani dares to question their government, first it is nuclear second it is from china :) something nuclear from china can never be bad, good luck to Pakistani people.

Abuzar Iqtidar Dec 17, 2013 12:36am

I have read about Chernobyle, and also about fukushima and the after effects of any such nuclear disaster wont even be safe for the upper Pakistan too Germany and Japan are already stepping back from this kind of energy and we are ready to dwell!

Hasan Dec 17, 2013 01:18am

@Yuvraj: No we just like Chinese too much.

Ali Dec 17, 2013 01:21am

@Yuvraj: Yuvraj Mian, when you look at the powerplant, you look not just the cost to install the plant but also to operate it over the next 30-40 years... when fuel costs are taken into consideration, the analysis is a whole different story! Im sure India is also a "very rich country" to be building over 10 nuclear plants currently... I wonder why they are not installing these thermal powerplants you spake of?

Sachal Mughal Dec 17, 2013 01:47am

@Yuvraj: yes you might be right but how are you going to pay for fuel cost of running thermal plants..? It is result of such easy way out policies that we have such large oil imports and current accounts deficits. Not to mention the poor power mix that we have with such high dependency on thermal.

Layka Dec 17, 2013 02:45am

China itself buys nuclear reactor from other countries such as Canada. All large nuclear reactors working in China have been built by Russia, Canada and other countries.

This Chinese designed nuclear reactor is actually a modified copy of a failed 1960's American designed reactors. If it was so good, China would install them on its own land first instead of buying reactors from Russia and Canada. Karachi is only an experiment for them.

Mirza Haider Dec 17, 2013 02:46am

I completely "Disagree" with the way it has been written, especially the scare tactics put down to cause further rift in the city. The writer has neglected to inform the reader of the economical benefits to Karachi. We don't live in Europe or USA. In next 5 years people will die of starvation if we don't produce enough electricity to power industries.Karachi has already lost 60% of its economy due to power shortages and terrorism, factories are already shutting down and are moved to other cities.Under such dire circumstances if someone tells me that it "could" harm you then I would surely laugh at him.Its better to survive under scare created by some people rather than die of starvation. Operational cost of fossil fueled or other resources (oil,gas,coal..etc) power plant are definitely high compare to Nuclear powered.Fossil fuels may one day disappear.Coal-fired electric power plants emit massive amounts of greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants to the atmosphere on a daily basis.As per Scientific Journal: estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities. there are more than 147 active nuclear plant in the world & 23 under construction,30 of them at a small distance from residential area..Reason:As per study done by EU commission :The impact of routine radioactive releases is negligible.Less than one equivalent life lost - 0.1 public and 0.02 occupational - in a 300 million European population was attributable to the one year of operation. The spread of radioactive material is not more harmful than the green house gases from fossil fuel

BRR Dec 17, 2013 03:35am

There are some important issues to note: a) no country wants to take back spent fuel rods, unless they have the technology to recycle them, at significant costs b) storing spent fuel rods is expensive, and must be stored for thousands of years safely, depending on the technology c) the only safe nuclear power is thorium, but it has not proven commercially viable yet

Taha Lateef Dec 17, 2013 03:47am

@Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad: "The spread of radoiactive material is not more harmful than the green house gases from fossil fuels.The radioactive material affect locally but GH gasses have global consequences."

Are you really serious when making this assertion. While Karachi desparately needs electricity, the cost of the nuclear disaster would be abandoning a city of 20 million souls. The devastation that an nuclear accident would bring to the local population of Karachi would far outweigh the global consequences of an equivalent amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Why should a huge part of the population of Pakistan suffer in case of an incident.

I am all for nuclear power, but it is better to minimize the risk to people. A better solution would be to change the proposed location of the nuclear reactors and to move them further West, away from the main population centers to very sparsely populated areas.

Just Someone Dec 17, 2013 03:49am

@Yuvraj: India is really rich indeed. May I ask how many nuclear reactors are you building in cooperation with the US.

pakiboy Dec 17, 2013 06:03am

this article seems to be from crackpots who dont anything about standards .. and IAEA monitoring ..

pakiboy Dec 17, 2013 06:05am

@Khanzada: also this ACP-1000 design plant was under construction in china .. these writers seem to be in hurry to create sensations in public to get in lime light .. now many anchors in talk shows will call hoodbhoy .. and will be jumping high and trying to be expert in plant design, construction engineering etc .. and nuclear reactor design ..

shah Dec 17, 2013 06:10am

This plant MAY be completed in the year 2040, since its Pakistanis who are working on it.

Abdus Salam Khan Dec 17, 2013 06:27am

Thank you,both of you for raising your voice against this extremely risky undertaking; the government would be well advised to heed this timely warning by such eminent scientists. If the government shows its usual apathy, perhaps the chief justice would take suo moto notice of this ill-advised adventure.

Abdus Salam Khan Dec 17, 2013 06:42am

@Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad: The fall out from a nuclear disaster will be devastating for the citizens of Karachi, especially so when the Civil Defense Department is ill-equipped to handle such an emergency. As the saying goes, war is too serious a business to be left to the generals" and it can well be extended to the scientists. There should be a full public debate on this issue. I cannot comprehend why Pakistan, with all its water, wind and solar resources should be opting for this risky option.

mike Dec 17, 2013 06:58am

@Ahmad: what position you worked over there, house keeper?

Moiz Ahmad Khan Dec 17, 2013 06:59am

Clearly, you are not in favor of nuclear energy which is cheap for all of us Pakistanis. We cant buy expensive oil to run our power plants.

Karachi Wala Dec 17, 2013 07:08am

The should not play with innocent people's life. These extremely technical and sensitive projects should be left for experts to deal. Every project and every deal is not kick back worthy.

Javed Hussain Dec 17, 2013 08:12am

@Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad: Thank you sir, we need honest people like you to speak out against those who are against our economic and national interests and playing in the hands of other countries against Pakistan....

Adnan Dec 17, 2013 09:19am

It is very good idea that a Nuclear reactor is being planned near Karachi. Definitely it will benefit Pakistan and its people. The questions raised by the writer are valid and have to be taken seriously as well as there should be an open debate as to the options and possibly move the reactor location which is much safer for people of Pakistan. Baluchistan has lot of area that can be explored and a better place can be searched. Rational thinking is needed. Safety first, the money saved now is good but make sure the money needed later on to fix the damage will be astronomical both in human terms and financially. May the people use some common sense in this regard. Allah bless Pakistan and make its people follow the righteous path.

ali Dec 17, 2013 09:31am

The authors did a good job here informing the country and specially the people of Karachi about the hazards of these two projects, do they have any suggestions as to what other viable alternatives are available.

sohail osman ali Dec 17, 2013 09:59am

The location of the reactors is not mentioned in the article, but based on an earlier report I think this will be built near the existing Canadian built reactor between French Beach and Paradise Point. In this area a lot of land has been taken over by the Government from the local fishing communities without any compensation. It does not bode well for us if reactors are being built using experimental technology on land that has been usurped without proper compensation being given to the local fishing community.

wijdan Dec 17, 2013 11:03am

IAEA has given approval for the construction of nuclear power plants. The survey reports shows that the cite is safe from ecological accidents. The objections are baseless and there is no reality.

YMH Dec 17, 2013 11:09am

Have we abolished all worldwide nuclear power plants after Fukushima disaster of 2011? It is not at all appropriate to associate the upcoming Karachi Nuclear Power Plants with previous disasters. This needs to be kept in mind that Karachi and Fukushima are absolutely fall in entirely different domains and cannot be categorize with same lines.

waqas Dec 17, 2013 12:53pm

@Ahmad: how could anyone deny this deteriorated fact..??? We take 3 weeks to control a burning building and settling down of an aggressive scenario in our country. How could we face the nuclear affect..?? We have other alternatives, i ll prefer them on this. Like thermal one.

Muhammad Usman Dec 17, 2013 12:55pm

The original designer of plant is Westinghouse Electric Company LLC and there are many examples of 1117 MWe Westinghouse AP1000s now in operation. China will commission all 4 plants in 2016 and the first one is undergoing trials. Moreover, Hoodbhoy should suggest any other alternate for energy striving Pakistan. Thermal plants are run on oil that cost more as we import it. Gas from Iran has US sanctions hurdle. Coal plants damage environment as per western view although they produce more coal energy than any other nation. Dams are the only other option but Pakistani politicians receiving regular salary from Indian consulate are against it. So we are only left with nuclear option.

Skr 786 Dec 17, 2013 01:14pm

Mirza Haider Dec 17, 2013 01:37pm

I completely "Disagree" with the way it has been written, especially the scare tactics put down to cause further rift in the city. There are more than 147 active nuclear plant in the world & 23 under construction,30 of them at a small distance from residential area..Reason:As per study done by EU commission :The impact of routine radioactive releases is negligible.Less than one equivalent life lost - 0.1 public and 0.02 occupational - in a 300 million European population was attributable to the one year of operation. The spread of radioactive material is not more harmful than the green house gases from fossil fuel. Operational cost of fossil fueled or other resources (oil,gas,coal..etc) power plant are definitely high compare to Nuclear powered.Fossil fuels may one day disappear.Coal-fired electric power plants emit massive amounts of greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants to the atmosphere on a daily basis.As per Scientific Journal: estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities.

ali Dec 17, 2013 02:03pm

Karachi mai karachi walon ki chalti kab hai, jis ka jo je chahe kary.

Arif Tahir Dec 17, 2013 02:45pm

@Sulman Bhatti: must confess I am no nuclear physicist but from my limited knowledge as an engineer I can say that Nuclear Power Plants have specific cooling requirements and are water cooled. Hence I think the location has to do with proximity to sea..

A H Nayyar Dec 17, 2013 02:56pm

@Indian: If China is allowed to supply a reactor, it will also be allowed to supply the fuel for it.

Nail Marwan Dec 17, 2013 04:09pm

Mirza Haider -So far the most technically sound & logical comment on the subject ! (y)

Wajih Ur Rehman Dec 17, 2013 04:39pm

@Sulman Bhatti: It is because they will be mainly supplying power to Karachi. If you move the reactor to remote site then you will have to built the transmission lines as well.

This will be additional cost.

Waqar Dec 17, 2013 05:50pm

Pakistan has the history of managing safest operation of existing Nuclear Power Plants. Keeping in view the current energy crises in Pakistan, we must build Power Plants of all kinds. Pakistan has a very strong and effective safely Control Meehanism in place to ensure safely during building of the plant and its operations.

Khaled Dec 17, 2013 05:54pm

@Mirza Haider: " In next 5 years people will die of starvation if we don't produce enough electricity"

People will not die of stravation because of not producing enough electricity, but will strave due to water shortage that is likely to hit Pakistan in next 15 to 20 years because, of India making huge dams in the catchment areas in the north..

akram Khan Dec 17, 2013 06:06pm

so many remarks from different people but it is fact Kanupp has started from 1972 , and it is very thanks for Allah that no accident has happened die to more experienced perons are working in Plant , and every section and every persons mau he is what (Peon) is very reponsible and pinchual of his duty ,

Ali Dec 17, 2013 06:59pm

This is typical of media, to make a fool of complete nation. There is some problem with every project that has a small ray of hope for us. At present our manufacturing units are closed due to shortage of power in country. Millions are being starved because of joblessness. Nation is in a virtual blackout for most part of the day, and columnists such as the author of this piece wants us to abandon nuclear power generation because of some unproven paranoia of radiation. when the complete world is shifting towards nuclear power generation. Germany, France along with most of EU nations acquire major portion of their power through nuclear power plants. Let me ask you dear author are you a nuclear scientist or a have you consulted one along with the blue prints of the plans, if not than for heaven sake don't spark controversy over such issues. Rather try to win support for such projects who would bring light, jobs, food and security to millions....

Asad Khan Dec 17, 2013 11:42pm

What on earth these "Gurus" A.H. Nayyar, Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian have produced ??

The whole article seems to employ that if Japan is dumb then Pakistan is dumber.

There are hundreds of Nuclear Plants running all over the world and more are coming in future because Nuclear is Future. The days of fossils fuels are over and Dam will only be built for Water Management not for power generation.

Besides, Pak has been using the Chinese Tech Chasma-I plant for a long time without any incident and the upcoming Karachi Plants will be of licensed western technology origin (Westinghouse).

I am utterly utterly disappointed by the lack of depth of this article.


Smith Dec 18, 2013 03:44am

Chinese installation of Nuclear power plants is the best thing ever happened to Pakistan. These nuclear power plants are French in origin, further improvement done by Chinese researchers. These plants will provide energy greatly needed in Karachi for ever increasing population and for the industrial complex existed in Karachi. In-fact four such reactors would have taken care of energy need for Karachi for next 75 years, getting them with such an economical rate is really job well done by Mr. Sharif and associates in Pakistan. They should immediately plan similar plants in each province , 2200 Mw in Punjab, 1200 each in Peshawar and Quetta based upon population in need. If such plants delayed few years, their price and cost will be so high that Pakistan will be in no shape to afford such plants. Again Mr. Sharif CEO Pakistan job well done.

Riaz Akbar Dec 18, 2013 09:05am

No one can deny that Pakistan is energy starved country and requires to adopt multi-prong strategy to over come energy crisis. Nuclear energy is one of the options which can be compared with other other sources as far as cost effectiveness is concerned.Kannup (K-1 ) was built in early 70's .How many accidents took place since installation and how much power was genrated ,can be a guideline before reaching any conclusion?

Kamal Ahmed Dec 18, 2013 10:17am

I salute the authors of this article for rightly pointing out concerns about new Nuclear Plant installationinstallation near Karachi. We all the know the disaster of Chernobyl and Fukushima reactors leakage.The question is whether the Chinese design safeguards and meet the stringent international standard or not specially aftermath of Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters.French and other designers have made fool proof changes to meet all eventualities under the IAEC. Before installation and operation of new Nuclear reactors. Karachiets have the right to ask PAEC for its safeguard and also need a complete and fool proof disaster management and evacuation plan in case any mishap occurs.

Kamal Ahmed Dec 18, 2013 10:25am

@Ahmad: It has surprised me as you are asking the names of these prominent Pakistani Physicist in a very astonishing manner. Put forward your point view in this open forum being worked and experienced in Nuclear energy field.

Kamal Ahmed Dec 18, 2013 10:33am

@Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad: With due apology, Karachiets need assurances from PAEC that the planned Nuclear reactors meet all international standard. One can't equate human loss or disater with development and trade off.we must keep Chernobyl disaster and its far reaching consequences before giving go ahead for this project.

ali ahmed Dec 18, 2013 11:19am

We are ready to die of starvation but not by the radio active fall-outs. The same power plants can be built somewhere else but not close to the most important city of Pakistan.

Kashif Zaki Dec 18, 2013 11:58am

Lets not forget the trains china sold us , these chinese are ruthless people I would not be surprised if these reactors are an experiment being conducted on the poor and neglected populace of karachi

Kamal Ahmed Dec 18, 2013 11:59am

@Ahmad: This is a kind of awareness and indeed this must go to the inhabitants of Karachi as they have the ownership.This is also a whiscleblowing both for Karachiets and PAEC.I think authors works need to be appreciated.

Kamal Ahmed Dec 18, 2013 01:10pm

@Ali: You just miss the point. The authors want to make sure that things go in right way and it is in the interest Karachietes. I am thank full to Dawn for publishing this article of much interest.

Ahmer Jamil Khan Dec 18, 2013 02:21pm

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was caused by an Earthquake followed by a resulting Tsunami. The flooding caused by the Tsunami caused the reactor's safety features to fail causing the disaster. The Earthquakes and Tsunamis are quite common in Japan, and I don't see such natural disasters affecting the Karachi coastline. The energy crisis needs a solution, and this is a part of it.

raw is war Dec 18, 2013 03:18pm

i worked for a major Chinese company and I am aware of their failure rates in launching new products/projects. I feel Pakistan is taking a very big gamble.

Shkrr Dec 18, 2013 03:33pm

i think the area is more safe, there has notsunami as that other countries , the plant is built not vulenerable to the threats . secondly Pakistan has a succes story and there is not a single incident which can be question. thanks to the relevant organisation and their efforts are really great for the country who ensures the safty and security..... yes india is vulenerable by just looking at IAEA database they have more problems and incidents noted,,,,pakistan not have a single such an incident....

zubair israr Dec 18, 2013 03:37pm

very rightly so the authors of the column have shown their concerns, their apprehensions regarding mishaps in case of an accident and the rescue there after are major issues, while on the other hand the benefits and advantages attached to the project are higher than the concerns. The project cannot be abandoned on the pretext that father should not have got married to leave his son mourn his un- timely death. One has to be optimistic and plan things accordingly and leave the rest to the fate.

Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad Dec 18, 2013 03:52pm

@Kamal Ahmed: Pls do not live in the past.There is a difference between assurance and guaranttee. Mukhtar

Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad Dec 18, 2013 03:59pm

@Abdus Salam Khan: Kindly compose your comments on serious technical grounds.Let generals and scientists do their job. Mukhtar

msm Dec 18, 2013 11:02pm

@Asad Khan: If, you are disappointed with, the depth of this article, then no one is stopping you from writing a comprehensive article, on the subject.

This is not the end of the world, nor there is any quota restriction from the newspaper on the subject. I believe.

They have, at least, done their part of job, you are free to do your part.

JKK Dec 18, 2013 11:29pm

I disagree with the authors, the new plant "must" be having more safety features and the scientists and engineers would have worked out the scenarios. In any case, the accident can;t be ruled out but all projects are planned with safety and failure scenario, it is the job of PNRA to do. It seems that authors want to find out themselves about the design and safety features to issue their own certificates.

Leave it to authorities concerned.

waqar shirazee Dec 18, 2013 11:33pm

to be safe and sure why not build solar plants and i think they are safe enough

Shoaib Dec 19, 2013 01:49am

I retired after working 24 years in 2 Canadian power plants. The author has written a good article but they have exaggerated nuclear safety concerns and asked some questions which the western nuclear powers can not answer. It is nice to know where the nuclear waste will be finally put to rest but not extremely important considering 35 years of Canadian nuclear waste is kept in two swimming pools. The question of nuclear safety to prevent nuclear accident is very important and the focus of the entire nuclear industry. However, it is far fetched question to identify who will be responsible to compensate the victims in case of an accident. I clearly see that this article was written by people who know the nuclear industry but are against nuclear power and have no knowledge of the energy shortages in Pakistan.
Pakistan needs the energy and the responsible authorities should build the power plant taking all available safety considerations, design and operating procedures. Our children need uninterrupted electricity for studies and our industry needs power to produce. Don't let any foreign interest including green peace stop you from nuclear power.

Lajwar Dec 19, 2013 02:16am

The views and concerns expressed by the authors are geniune. Point to ponder now is how can the balance be achieved between acute power shortage of the economic hub of the country and possible risks involved in the nuclear energy option. The answer might not be simple and might require exercising a hybrid option; by combining renewable energy projects with Thar coal power generation option. The triangular corridor between Karachi, Thatta and Jhimpir (approximately 70 sq kms area) has an estimated wind power electricity generation potential of 50,000 megawatts electricity generation by wind energy (an internationally recognised renewable energy source). Combine this with Thar coal and we might be able to answer our energy shortages. However, development of nuclear power facilities may also be considered after a careful and expert review keeping all stake holders on board. Lets not delete a viable energy development only on preconceived fears and shelf a futuristic option on overt pessimism.

Abc Dec 19, 2013 02:35am

@Mirza Haider: Mirza sahab Germany,France,Japan have programs under way to phase out nuclear plant although they are much able in comparison to Pakistan and China on technical front.Update yourself.

whyaname? Dec 19, 2013 09:04am

Well the article is not quite factual.

The APC1000 model nuclear plant is currently under construction in China and will be operational well before the plant in Karachi, hence any additional improvements will be made to the one being constructed in Karachi, if required.

Also, the APC1000 model is based on an American design - the US company is actually owned by Toshiba (of Japan) and this technology has been transferred to China under a separate deal.

Its not all doomsday as articulated in this article.

Taha Lateef Dec 19, 2013 04:53pm

@BRR: It is unfortunate that nuclear based rectors based on thorium have not achieved that much of attention and investment and are still not economically viable. Thorium fuel cycle of safer compared to both Uranium and Plutonium fuel cycle and generates nuclear waste that is neutralized much quicker.

Faisal Nazeer Hussain Dec 19, 2013 07:29pm

@shah: We should not be ashamed of our donnot insult each other