K2 & K3-safety aspects

THE KARACHI nuclear power plant projects K2, K3 contrive the advent of new era in nuclear power sector of Pakistan. Both power plants will jointly propel the crumbling power sector of Pakistan and give it a flutter by contributing 2200 MWe to the grid collectively. By the obliging collaborative efforts of neighboring country China, the project is expected to be operational in year 2021.

Karachi nuclear power plant projects K2, K3 remained in shadows, encountering copious criticism within the country, which is indeed hard to fathom. The startling aspect is that the critics do acclaim the need of new power generation projects yet whimper over trifling issues based on abhorrence with neither substantial supporting stuff nor tangible objectivity. The rouse of such “archers” is deeply expected whenever an imperative project of national importance is promulgated in Pakistan. In either case, success or the failure, their objectives are accomplished in a subtle manner, as the project become contentious in the eyes of general public and that narrative can be credited for a political rationale, although the assertions made can be knocked over on technical, moral and legal frontiers.

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Antagonistic activists have been stirred to the highest degree of agitation since the construction work of Karachi nuclear power plants (K2, K3) is instigated. The facts must be unveiled in order to disseminate awareness and diminish dubiousness amongst masses that is triggered by utter skewed, self proclaimed patriots that cling to the vested interests by beating around the bush. A penny of their thoughts implants wool into the general public eyes. This is the reason why factual reasoning must not be concealed in order to showcase the literal objectivities of the project.

The fundamental ground on which critiques lay down their debate is by interrogating the ACP1000 design that is proposed for K2, K3 power plants. That the brand used for K2, K3 power plants is ACP1000 which is not tested anywhere in the world and also believe that it is being launched in Pakistan on experimental basis, thus bringing life of 20 million people at serious risk since the safety concerns are pre dominant and have been neglected big time.

The questioning should be welcomed from all fronts unless it is questioning not “quizzing” and should not be left unanswered by the relevant authority that is Pakistan Atomic

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Energy Commission (PAEC) in spirit of openness and inclusiveness. The facts are otherwise, provided that ACP1000 which is developed by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is approved by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). ACP1000 is an 1100 MWe three-loop advanced PWR. This is highly advanced light water reactor whose core comprises of remarkably sophisticated cutting edge technology of 177 fuel assemblies to boost the power of the reactor ensuring adequate thermal safety perimeter. Emergency core cooling, core residual thermal release, melt core cooling and containment heat removal are the inbound safety requisites that must be employed in case of worst scenario of a nuclear accident. ACP1000 design is potent to perform all these functions inhabiting both active and passive safety systems thus swabbing off the concerns of “risky.” Extended protection to shield ambient external hazards is also incorporated thus making it safer than the previous designs and the technology.

There are tons of examples around the world, where the under construction nuclear power plants have not been tested anywhere before. Being a dynamic industry, innovations do engulf nuclear industry also, and improved designs with superior technology and enhanced safety measures are introduced into the market that supplant the former designs and technology. As a prudent procurer, should one choose older, unsafe technology when the advanced and safer technology has already been introduced in the market on just virtues of “tested” and “un tested”? The question should be the qualification of the technology that is already established by the most concerned authority that is International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But unfortunately, the evaluation criteria of the critics is not the qualification of the technology instead it is reduced to aforesaid traits of “tested” and “untested.” The examples include American AP-1000, French EPR units which are never “tested” anywhere in the world before. So, as per the “logic of untested,” a mammoth lapse has been made by these two superpowers as well and their population must be at a larger risk than the off shores of Karachi.

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The safety aspect of Karachi nuclear power plants (K2, K3) was never a question at any stage for the sagacious proportions of the society. It is significant to mention that not even a single life amongst dwellers of city of lights is at peril due to these vital projects.

The author is associated with Weekly Technology Times as Editorial Assistant. She can be reached at sidra@technologytimes.pk.

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