Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Police investigating fatal shooting shocked by binge drinking on nuclear submarine HMS Astute

An inquest into a fatal shooting on board one of the Navy's nuclear powered submarines has been told that police investigating the incident were so shocked by binge drinking among the crew that they wrote to military authorities to highlight their worries.
Police officers investigating the shooting of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux by Able Seaman Ryan Donovan on board HMS Astute during a public relations visit to Southampton in April 2011 discovered that "significant" numbers of the crew were intent on getting "drunk out of their minds" during the visit.
Detectives concluded that Donovan had drunk 20 pints of cider and lager, cocktails and double vodkas in the 48 hours before he was put on a guard duty with a gun, but that his drink intake was not out of the ordinary among the crew.
 The detective leading the inquiry was “highly alarmed” by the crew's alcohol consumption and took the “unprecedented” step of writing to the Chief Constable of the Hampshire Constabulary with his concerns.  The Chief Constable then raised the matter with regional military commander Brigadier Neil Baverstock.
The inquest was told that it was normal practice for the crew of the boat to “drink heavily while on shore leave, consuming alcohol over an extended period until they passed out and then returned to duty after five or six hours."
Commander Iain Breckenbridge, in command of the submarine at the time of the shooting, told the inquest that he had no concerns about Donovan before the shootings and was "surprised" to hear of the police's fears of binge drinking by the crew.
Donovan was jailed for 25 years for the murder of Lt Cdr Molyneux and the attempted murder of three others after opening fire with an SA80 rifle when HMS Astute was docked in Southampton on April 8 this year.
The Royal Navy has since tightened its rules on alcohol consumption before duty.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

US climate scientist against nuclear in India

The Hindu - Mumbai, January 23, 2013

For Jaitapur villagers, questions remain:
The nuclear energy throughout the world is nearing to its irrelevance, said Dr. John Byrne, Director of the Centre for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) and a distinguished Professor of University of Delaware, U.S. on Wednesday. Dr. Byrne has contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1992 and shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the IPCC researchers.

Dr. Byrne, who is on a 12-day tour to India, held a meeting with the villagers of area in and around the proposed Jaitapur nuclear Power Plant (JNPP). “It seems the people have a number of unanswered questions. The answers provided to them and the risks or other implications of the project are not clear at all. People want to know the reason for bringing this project here,” he said, in a press conference organised by Greenpeace, after the meeting with villagers and anti-nuclear power activists.

Making his stand against nuclear energy clear, Dr. Byrne said, “This technology (nuclear) has a record of unanticipated accidents because of its complex nature. The economic investment required to build and operate the plant is huge and the ecological risks associated with the nuclear plant cannot be denied,” he said. In particular, he noted the repeated negative advisories from credit rating agencies regarding nuclear power. “Considering all the negative sides of the nuclear energy and the available options of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, the nuclear energy is nearing to its irrelevance,” he said.

According to Dr. Byrne, the evidence from scientific community in Japan shows that nuclear accident in Fukushima after the earthquake and tsunami has its roots in the technology and management related issues. “These were the problems which were not anticipated even by the well-learned technicians from Japanese nuclear industry,” he alleged.

Comparing the option of solar energy to nuclear, he said the former is more sustainable. “But right now the solar energy is restricted for individual uses. There has been no cost-effective model in case of solar energy to build a plant which will benefit larger population. We are working on such model, but I am sure that in future, such model will be developed,” he said.


An informal information platform for activists and scholars concerned
about the dangers of Nuclearisation in South Asia

Thursday, 24 January 2013

War Hysteria in India-Pakistan

CNDP Statement on Nuclear Advisory in Kashmir amid War Hysteria in India-Pakistan

The Jammu and Kashmir police have reportedly issued an advisory to common citizens on do’s and don’ts in the event of a “nuclear” war. Apart from creating underground bunkers, the notice advises people to store perishables and duck behind surfaces in case of an explosion.
This is a sickening reminder of the pathology of the Cold War, when a nuclear exchange was considered worth fighting and even winnable. But we know that no civil defence is possible when it comes to nuclear weapons. Hence, the advisory is clearly misleading and frightening at the same time.
This also highlights the urgent need to begin a discussion on a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in South Asia, an agenda that the CNDP has been advocating since its inception in 2000.
This vindicates our position that far from providing security, nuclear weapons have further endangered South Asia and any conventional skirmish has the potential to lapse into a nuclear escalation. The recent turn of events leading to an unfortunate diplomatic stand-off, military build-ups on both sides, and war hysteria in sections of the media, have actually arisen out of adventurism along the Line of Control. Militaries on both sides occasionally indulge in such adventurism and ratchet up tensions to hysterical levels.
We urge the governments and people on both sides to resume dialogue and end the current escalation of tensions at the earliest. We demand that the J&K police withdraw its misleading advisory on nuclear war.
Lalita Ramdas
Praful Bidwai
Abey George
P K Sundaram

Monday, 21 January 2013


 [Mail Today (India)]

NUCLEAR- RELATED issues have dominated public discourse in the country with varying intensity since 1998, when the second set of nuclear tests were conducted at Pokharan.

A few years later came the Indo- US civilian nuclear deal which shook the very foundations of UPA- I, and follow- up actions such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group ( NSG) waiver and nuclear liability law continues to be in a limbo.

In the past two years, protests against the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, have grabbed headlines and eyeballs. It is interesting how the debate pendulum has swung from the bomb, which symbolised national security, to nuclear power, which is claimed to signify energy security.

It is equally interesting to note that both the developments are functions of a single wing of the government — the Department of Atomic Energy ( DAE). There is nothing wrong with this arrangement, but for the fact that this wing of the government is steeped in unbound secrecy even in this age of transparency and RTI. There is very little known about how it works, but for its sanitised ( and often self- contradicting) annual reports, glossy publicity literature and occasional institutional biopics penned by serving or retired nuclear scientists. Kudos to M. V. Ramana, an Indian scholar working at Princeton University, for putting together a critical history of India's nuclear power prorgramme, despite such handicaps.

The Indian nuclear establishment over the decades has successfully earned political patronage and has crafted a glorified public image by projecting itself as the pride of Indian science. An entire generation of Indians has grown with this establishment's self- congratulatory claims, such as: " it was the genius of Homi Bhabha that laid the foundation of nuclear programme"; " India has developed and mastered nuclear power technology indigenously"; " the nuclear programme is mainly for power development and not for making nuclear weapons"; " nuclear is the only viable source of cheap and clean electricity"; the nuclear safety record of India is exemplary", and so on.

Ramana has busted all such myths with surgical precision and through scholarly collation and analysis of publicly available information, data and scanty archival material. There is no rhetoric. The book's strength lies in the way the author has used DAE's own The links Bhabha in Delhi wing atomic could include Saha.

Bhabha secrecy right modelling yardsticks and promises made to the nation to judge its performance.

For a student of science and nuclear policy making in India, the book reads like a racy novel. It is an eye- opener.

The most revealing part of the narrative is the historical perspective relating to seeding of the nuclear power programme and its early growth under Bhabha, and the political patronage provided by Nehru.

The book shows how personal links with Nehru helped Bhabha work his way through Delhi and have a dedicated wing in the government for atomic energy that nobody could question and did not include critics such as Meghnad Saha.

Bhabha deliberately built secrecy into the programme right at the beginning by modelling the Atomic Energy Commission and the atomic energy after the British Atomic Energy Act. Though Nehru publicly defended the need for secrecy, it worried him privately as reflected in of his letters where he says, " The work of AEC is shrouded in secrecy. I try to keep in touch with from time to time. … I do not know how else can proceed in this matter." Not much changed since the times of Nehru. Ramana repeatedly denied information about economic costs of fast breeder reactors, among other things, under the Act.

DAE's obsession with secrecy understandable when one looks at its dismal performance on every count — design and development of nuclear reactors, power generation, functioning of heavy water plants, reprocessing plants, uranium mining, and so on.

It begins with claims made by Bhabha and Nehru about Apsara — the much- acclaimed swimming pool reactor — being an indigenous effort, whereas it was completely based on the design and technical data that Bhabha got from his colleague from Cambridge, Sir John Cockcroft.

The first unit of electricity from a nuclear plant came from the Tarapur reactor, which was supplied by General Electric, was erected by Bechtel and funded by USAID. Ramana, using authentic data and examples, also exposes the half- truths about indigenous development and growth under the technology denial regime post- Pokharan I. The most glaring part of the Indian progeramme and duplicity of its leaders are the claims made from time to time about the promise of nuclear energy. In the 1980s, DAE claimed it would generate 10,000 MW of nuclear power by 2000. In the 2000s, it changed the goal post to another rhythmic figure — 20,000 MW by 2020. To justify the civilian nuclear deal, it came up with another magical figure of 275,000 MW by 2052.

All these promises have been made by DAE fully knowing that it neither has the necessary knowhow, fuel and technology, nor the money to achieve even a fraction of it. Despite gobbling up thousands of crores over half a century, the DAE has an installed capacity of just 4,780 MW, compared with 22,333 MW of renewable power installed capacity achieved with a tiny budget. The jugglery of figures also continues when it comes to calculating costs of nuclear power.

The book is highly recommended for policy makers and energy policy planners as well as anyone who is interested in an independent view of India's nuclear power programme. It is a valuable addition to the growing literature on this subject.