Chennai: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam, who is on a mission to allay fears about the safety of the controversial Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, on Sunday said it was 'completely safe' as it is located in a low frequency seismic zone, a view rejected by the locals.

Kalam, who held discussions with scientists and engineers of the Indo-Russian Joint Venture, including Nuclear Power Corporation Chairman S K Jain, said, "The plant is safe in all aspects."

"There is no need to worry about the safety aspect of the plant, as it is in a low frequent seismic zone. There is also no threat of a Tsunami as the plant is 1,300 km away from the
seismic centre point. Besides, the plant is 13.5 metres above sea level," Kalam, a votary of nuclear energy, said.

Kalam's visit comes amid the continuing standoff on the Rs 13,600 crore Indo-Russian project, whose first unit was scheduled to be commissioned in December.

Officials said the agitation by locals against the project has upset the scheduled commissioning.

Kalam said all safety aspects, including automatic cooling of the plant in the event of generator failure after power goes off, 'double wall' protection for KNPP workers inside and outside, structural safety and container to store the 25 per cent residual fuel from the plant have been provided.

He said he was also sure that there would be no damage to the surrounding environment with the setting up of the plant.

Kalam said 'Bath Tub' facility has been provided to flush core melt waste. "There is a solution in the tub which will take care of all radiation problems. There will be no radiation at all. The workers inside and outside the plant are 100 per cent safe."  

Asked if he would mediate with the protestors, Kalam said he had not come for that purpose. "I came here to know about the safety aspect of the plant and I will convey my opinion to the officials concerned, the committee and government."

However, he expressed his willingness to clarify any doubts or questions raised by the people over the plant. "The agitation against the Plant is unnecessary as it will help in
the development of Tamil Nadu in a big way," he said.

"People should have confidence in the government, in the experts and engineers who are building the plant," he said.

He recalled an accident in which six scientists were injured while checking the Rohini satellite in 1979, but became more resolute to work for the satellite system. Similarly, people should have confidence in the safety of the plant and believe assurances given by officials, he said.

Asked if he suspected whether 'foreign missionaries' were instigating the locals against the plant, Kalam said "my great teachers have taught me not to suspect any person."

Noting that six nuclear accidents have occurred so far, he said, "I can say there is no chance for the plant here to get affected in any way by earthquakes or Tsunami."

Asked about his earlier statement about going in for Thorium-based nuclear reactors, Kalam said efforts are on in this direction and technology is being finetuned. "In another 15 years thorium based reactors will come (to India)."

Disputing Kalam's contention, S P Udayakumar, spearheading the anti-KNPP agitation, said the former President's repeated claims on safety left many questions unanswered.

Kalam's claims that the plant was safe in the event of a tsunami was not convincing as the tidal waves from the December 2004 tsunami rose above the 133 foot statue of Tamil saint poet Tiruvalluvar at Kanyakumari, he said.

Udayakumar also asked whether the Centre would dare set up a nuclear plant either in West Bengal or Kerala. He said 40 people, whom Kalam met, did not represent the protestors.

Kalam would advocate for KNPP: CPI

As former President A P J Adbul Kalam vouched for Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant's safety, CPI on Sunday said Kalam was a 'nuclear man' and would only support the KNPP.

"Former President A P J Abdul Kalam is a nuclear man and would only support and advocate for the nuclear plant at Koodankulam, which the villagers are opposing," CPI National
Secretary D Raja told reporters in Coimbatore on Sunday.

Kalam was responsible for the Pokhran test when A B Vajpayee was Prime Minister, he said when reporters sought his reaction on the ongoing agitation against the plant and the move by Kalam to sort out the issue. "Rest is for your imagination," he said.

As far as CPI was concerned, Raja said the party has made it clear, when a delegation from Koodankulam met Prime MInister Manmohan Singh, that the safety of people and surroundings was paramount before commissioning of the plant.

When it was pointed out that non-commissioning of the plant within the timeframe would prove to be more dangerous, as cautioned by Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee, he said CPI was also saying the same thing.

Before commissioning the plant, the Government should take all safety measures, Raja said.

CPI has suggested constituting an expert panel, outside the Government, to identify the possible risk and other aspects, like storage and disposal of spent fuel, he said.

The plant, for that matter at any location, can be commissioned, after pronouncing a comprehensive nuclear policy, with total safety measures, which was lacking at present, Raja added.

(Agencies)