Nuclear reactors do not have health consequences: Jitendra Singh

The Indian government has clarified that the local population is not facing any health, property and safety consequences due to nuclear reactors in the neighbourhood and that the government departments carry out regular checks for any radioactivity level in the vicinity.

Health surveys have also been conducted regularly to assess the health of the employees working in the nuclear power plant project.

“With respect to health, property and safety, there are no consequences faced by the neighbouring areas of nuclear reactors during their normal operation,” Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), Minister of State Prime Minister Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh told Parliament.

Environmental Survey Laboratories (ESLs) of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), a constituent unit of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has branches at all Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs). It carries out periodic survey of radioactivity levels in environment around nuclear projects. “The doses received (in the public leaving around the power plant) are small percentages of the limit prescribed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB),” Dr Singh said. The Minister contended that as per the international bodies such as the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), these radiation doses are not likely to make the population vulnerable to radiation induced diseases.

Besides this, the Minister said: “Epiodemiological survey for health assessment with respect to employees working in close proximity of radiation and staying in the nearby residential complex and villages of each of the nuclear power plants in operation have been carried out by reputed local medical colleges and analysis has been carried out by Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Mumbai, a premier cancer research centre in the country. In addition, annual medical check-ups are carried out for all occupational workers regularly.”

The Environmental Survey Laboratories (ESL) of Health, Safety and Environment Group of BARC conducts extensive survey around the nuclear power plant sites as per the requirements of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). “These surveys cover all the environmental matrices (air, water, dietary products etc.) to assess the impact of nuclear reactors on climate and environment. It is seen that the average effective dose due to operation of NPPs at the plant boundary is a very small fraction (<1%) of limits prescribed by AERB,” Dr Singh added.