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Pakistani nuclear policy is well thought-out.

Byline: Salahuddin Haider

Facing a dual challenge of bridging its energy gaps, and an ominous stoppage of water from India, Pakistan had little option but to look for nuclear plants. Two such plants, capable of producing 600 megawatts of electricity, are in operation near Chashma in the Punjab. A beach front Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), needs repairs, and modernization. Since neither of these are enough to meet the ever widening electricity needs of the country, Islamabad looked towards China, and felt obliged with its readiness to help us overcome the problem.

A totally unnecessary debate about the safety concerns of the proposed two plants to be built near Karachi shores, demands proper clarification. The K-2, and K-3 nuclear plants, offered by the Chinese, the ever reliable friend, are supposed to replenish the supply grids by 2,200 Megawatts. A credit line of 6.5 billion dollars on soft terms has also been promised. While both these are welcome developments, doubts about their affecting or endangering the megapolis, too are natural. The Chernobyl incident in Russia and the incident in Fukushima in Japan, are bound to create such fears.

But even a cursory look at the designing of the two new plants near Karachi would show that they are based on the proven ACP-1000 system. Their research reactor is based on the PWR concept, as explained by the Atomic Energy Commission chief DrAnsar during his briefing few weeks back. PWR has been the work-horse for the nuclear industry for the past five decades. Chashma plants are examples closer to that concept. The ACP 1000 system, a continuation of the PWR, have been operational in China, and so far there has been no incident in that great country.

Secondly, the new system, being adopted for the K-2 and K-3 plants have incorporated years of research and development. True, nuclear plants ought to be away from main cities, but guarantees, held out by the PAEC about the safety of new plants near Karachi, ought to be accepted. The PAEC has been doing an excellent job since 60s when the country's first KANUPP plant was inaugurated by late MrZulfikar Ali Bhutto in the 70s. The new plants have latest, third generation technologies, being built in Finland, China, France and USA. Yet another argument opposing such plants automatically become redundant because China already has 21 nuclear plants, and has gained tremendous knowledge about its operational capabilities and safety issues. Pakistan opted for these plants after care considerations of multi-faceted aspects for nuclear technology. Chinese experts have been visiting the sites in Karachi, and Pakistan scientists too have done their homework. These plants are not being installed in hurry.

The Prime Minister did the ground breaking for these only after satisfying himself that they are the worthy solutions to our energy problems.

The PAEC has also removed fears about the nuclear fall out or incidents near Karachi by these two new plants, by citing the example that several plants close to large population centres like Guangdong in China, Kousheng in Taiwan, and Indian Point near New York city, in USA. At the Indian point NPP, more than 270,000 people live within a radius of 16 kilometres, and almost the entire city of New York is wthin 80 kilometres of the plant. The Indian Point plants, built in 1974 and 1976, do not possess the latest Generation-3 technologies which the

K-2, and K-3 have been equipped with. There is no fear either of entire Karachi city being evacuated in case of a possible incident, because USA authorities have established surveys to show that the entire New York city will never be threatened or need to be evacuated in case of a threat from the plant near the city. India, Brazil. Argentina, and Mexico never reported any incident like the safety mode of the KANUPP.

Concluding criticism that such heavy investment plans would make the energy from them costlier, stand negated by the cheaper electricity produced from the two Chashma power plants. Indians have been going ahead with their dam projects on several rivers, including Indus, and are turning a deaf ear to protests from Pakistan or by other agencies about the right of Pakistan being the lower riparian. Pakistan has no option but to either go to war with India and hold them back from building these power plants at rivers flowing into Pakistan, or look for better and peaceful options. The two Karachi power plants, when commissioned will be enormous relief for the Pakistani energy needs.?
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Publication:Energy Update
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Apr 30, 2014
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