Commentary by Nostromo Research
The Kolar goldfields were operated by state-owned Bharat Gold Mines Ltd (BGML) until closed down in the late 1990s. In June 2011, a London-based, Guernsey-registered, company called Kolar Gold Ltd (KGL) listed on AIM and negotiated with the government a number of leases surrounding the old BGML mines – but not the mines themselves. Although KGL hasn’t obtained permission to re-enter the BGML lease area, nonetheless it enlisted India’s SUN Group, that year, to negotiate a possible extension of its lease area into the abandoned pits which still contain potentially valuable amounts of gold (according to trade union leaders interviewed by Nostromo Research and Mines Minerals and People 12 years ago). For the moment, (and from the reports below) it seems that any proposal to dump nuclear waste into these old pits has been shelved – that’s if it were on the table in the first place. However, there’s always more than meets the eye to such issues in India. If Kolar Gold Fields were to gain access to the old mine, it would seem to knock on the head any prospect of using it for dumping nuclear wastes.
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People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) Idinthakarai 627 104 Tirunelveli District Tamil Nadu
PRESS RELEASE, November 23, 2012
SAY ‘NO’ TO KOODANKULAM AND KOLAR
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) strikes again! With the same kind of callousness, carelessness and recklessness!
When the Supreme Court judges asked the NPCIL officials where the Koodankulam spent fuels would be transported to, India’s Solicitor General said that they would be sent to deep mining places in Kolar. Mr. Rohit Nariman admitted in open court that Kolar had been identified as the final long-term geological repository for long-life nuclear wastes.
In its characteristic manner, the DAE has not shared any basic information on the Kolar plan with the local people, or people’s representatives or the press. The ad-hoc nature of the DAE’s decision-making and the short shrift given to science and public opinion are so glaring and, in fact, very disturbing.
The Affidavit filed by Mr. Ashok Chauhan, Executive Director of NPCIL on 7 November, 2012, has the following statement about long-term Deep Geological Repository (DGR):
It is submitted that in India, the need of DGR will arise only after a few decades from now. However, research and development work is in progress for over three decades in the field of in-situ experiments, natural barrier characterisation, numerical modelling, conceptual design and natural analogue of waste forms and repository processes. Keeping in line with the international developments, the initial focus of work in eighties mainly centred on setting up generic Underground Research Laboratories in one of the abandoned mines in India and resulted in the development of an underground chamber in Kolar gold mine located in South India. Current efforts within the Indian geological repository programme are directed towards granite based URL. In India, we have granite rock formation spread all over the country. As such setting up of a deep geological repository is not much of a technological challenge, but as is the case internationally everywhere, it is more of a sociopolitical issue.”
It is a fact that the Underground Research Laboratory (URL) in Kolar was opened in 1964 mainly as a neutrino laboratory. According to DAE’s own documents, the lab was shut down in 1992 following closure of the mines. The department must share the waste depository studies and analyses with the local public and the State Government of Karnataka.
However, Mr. S. K. Malhotra, the spokesperson for the DAE has claimed that the department has no plans to dump any nuclear waste either from Kudankulam or any other nuclear plant anywhere near Kolar. If Kolar was never in the reckoning, then where did Mr. Nariman get this idea from? Who is speaking the truth and who is not? All we can deduce from this culture of nuclear deception is that Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) is going to be the nuclear killing fields of India.
KGF is about 30 kilometers from Kolar and 100 kilometers from Bengaluru (Bangalore) city. It is right in the heart of southern India where three big states, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, intersect. This is a highly populated area. For instance, look at the populations figures of the three adjacent districts (2011 estimate):
Kolar District (Karnataka): 1,540,231 Chittoor District (AP): 4,170,468 Krishnagiri District (TN): 1,883,731
This high and dense population does not deter the Indian government or the DAE from setting up the dump site at Kolar for they attach more value to their own self-interests and the interests of the United States, Russia and France than our people’s lives and interests.
The elevation of Kolar is 3,981 m (13,061 ft). Look at the elevation of some of the Tamil Nadu towns and districts that lie just south of the Kolar area:
Krishnagiri: 631 m Vellor: 224 m Dharmapuri: 468 m Thiruvannamalai:168 m
One can easily imagine the impact of this dangerous and deadly nuclear waste that will be lying there for the next 48,000 (forty-eight thousand) years on the ground water of the low-lying Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
When all the national roads transport the deadly nuclear cargo to Kolar, millions and millions of our people in Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu will be exposed to all kinds of threats and dangers. Nuclear waste management is much more expensive and dangerous than nuclear power plants and even the most developed countries such as the United States and Germany are not able to handle the waste effectively.
Indian government should not go against the anti-nuclear trend of the world to promote the interests of the United States, Russia and France and expose the people of our country to nuclear dangers in Koodankulam, or Kolar or anywhere else.
The Struggle Committee People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy
Commentary by Nostromo Research