ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Once Again a Nuclear Reactor Leak

The leak at Kakrapar has been plugged but it is yet another reminder of the risks nuclear reactors pose.

On 11 March, the fifth anniversary of the multiple reactor accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi site in Japan, Unit 1 of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS-1) in Gujarat started leaking heavy water. It appears to have taken strenuous efforts by station personnel and other nuclear experts to plug the leak before the chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was able to inform the media on 21 March that the leak had been plugged.

The Kakrapar leak is a reminder of the routine failures that plague nuclear technologies and the ever-present danger of catastrophic accidents that nuclear reactors can undergo, albeit rarely. Kakrapar has a long history of accidents, starting with a fire in the switchgear room (the area from which power is transmitted to the grid), even as the reactor was under construction in 1991. In June 1994, heavy rains led to the turbine building and other parts of the reactor complex being flooded. It was reported then that the control room was inaccessible for some time and that floodwaters carried away canisters of radioactive waste.

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