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Dhaka Tribune

Environmentalists: Rooppur plant lacks proper assessment

Update : 15 Feb 2014, 07:28 PM

Environmentalists have expressed concerns over the establishment of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant alleging that the project was taken without conducting proper assessment of risk management.

At a discussion yesterday, they also urged the government to take proper precautions to avoid environmental and health hazards since it was the first of its kind in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) organised the discussion at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.

Former chief engineer of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Dr Abdul Matin said the government had taken the project in a hurried manner and without having proper risk assessment “which is an unhealthy practice.”

He said the government needed to ensure proper waste management mechanism at the first place since the nuclear wastage is extremely detrimental to environment and human health.

Matin said: “In addition, the government has to prepare efficient manpower who will deal with the process. It should not depend on the foreign experts.”

The government has planned to establish the Rooppur project with a power generation capacity of 2,000MW. Bangladesh and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2009 for setting up the plant. Since then, the two countries signed several agreements for setting up a two-unit nuclear power plant at Rooppur with a capacity of 1,000MW each.

On April 2 last year, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the first phase of the 2,000MW project at a cost of Tk5,242 crore. In January last year, Bangladesh and Russia signed a $500m loan agreement to cover the costs of feasibility study, plant design, infrastructure development and training of the plant’s personnel.

Prof M Firoz Ahmed, vice-chancellor of Stamford University Bangladesh, said: “The government should follow the recommendations and guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Commission properly to avoid any kind of accident.”

He also demanded that all the agreements and contracts be made public since it was a huge project to be implemented with public money.

Regarding the risks, former director of International Atomic Energy Commission Dr Jasimuddin Ahmed said the country would experience massive disaster if any kind of accident occurred at the plant. The people living within 30km radius would be affected.

Citing the example of Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan, he said the site of Rooppur plant was also vulnerable to earthquakes. 

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