Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cyclone Nilayam: Kalpakkam Nuclear Complex Once Again Demonstrates it is completely safe

The Kalpakkam complex houses two 220 MW nuclear reactors, two test reactors and a 500 MW fast breeder reactor scheduled for commissioning in 2013. It is elevated - to protect against lashing waves during high tides. The complex was fortified further after the 2004 tsunami.

Unlike the US, which shut down nuclear plants along its mid Atlantic coast ahead of Hurricane Sandy, the Kalpakkam reactors were operating late Wednesday evening.

This is the umpteenth time in less than a decade that Kalpakkam nuclear plant demonstrated it is absolutely safe.  The first instance was during the 2004 Tsunami, the last was Cyclone Thane and now Cyclone Nilam. In all these instances, the plant never stopped generating power. 

This record is an “Inconvenient Fact” to the Kudankulam anti-nuclear movement supported by foreign funded NGOs like Greenpeace.

Fortunately, Kudankulam is expected to come into production by December.

(HindustanTimes) Kalpakkam nuclear complex, located about 70km south of Chennai, is absolutely safe after Cyclone Nilam hit the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and both the units are operating normally, officials said on Wednesday.

Talking to the Hindustan Times from sea shore, M Venkatachalam, Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) operating superintendent, said that all emergency systems are go and are activated.
"We are on high alert, adequate additional manpower and resources have been pressed into service and there is absolutely no cause for any concern," he said after a preliminary inspection of the nuclear complex that also houses a fast breeder reactor (500 MW) which is being set up.

"I am standing on the sea shore as the cyclone is crossing and I see no problem whatsoever,"
he told HT over the phone from Kalpakkam. Earlier, plant site director K Ramamurthy, his last day in office after superannuating, in a statement said
"all structures and equipment were designed to withstand even the wind velocity of 160 kmph."
The met office expected wind speeds of up to 80kmph to 90kmph to lash the coast as cyclone Kalpakkam nuclear complex, located about 70km south of Chennai, is absolutely safe after Cyclone Nilam hit the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and both the units are operating normally, officials said on Wednesday.

"All agencies have been given instructions for remedial measures and kept in standby alert. Additional personnel have been deployed to keep vigil on important systems,"
Ramamurthy said in the statement.

"We do not expect any flooding here due to cyclone," said Prabhat Kumar, chairman and managing director of Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini), which is erecting the fast breeder reactor.

"The sodium tanks (sodium is the coolant in the reactor) have been fully covered to prevent any risk of water contact. Firefighting equipment is also in place," he said.

Cyclone Nilam: Post Landfall Models Plot its Path

Cyclone Nilam intensifies into severe storm, hits Tamil Nadu coast

(Hindustan Times) Cyclone 'Nilam' on Wednesday intensified into a severe storm with extremely heavy rainfall expected over North coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry even as the weather department warned of extensive damage to huts, standing crops and power lines.

The met department said on Wednesday evening  that Cyclone Nilam was crossing Tamil Nadu coast near Mahabalipuram.

The cyclone is expected to cross between Puducherry and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh close to Chennai this evening.
"The system would intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm and move north-westwards and cross north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coast between Puducherry and Nellore close to Chennai by this evening, it said in its latest bulletin.Gusty winds with a maximum surface wind speed of 45 kmph to 110 kmph is expected, it said.
Extremely heavy rainfall of over 25 cm or more is expected over north Coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the next 24 hours.

Rainfall at most places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls would occur over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and north interior Tamil Nadu in the next 48 hours with gale speeds of 90-100 kmph, gusting to 110 kmph along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts.

The sea condition would be "high to very high" along and off North Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and South Andhra Pradesh coast, the Met office said.

Storm surge of about 1-1.5 metre over the astronomical tide is likely to inundate low lying areas of Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Nellore districts, it said.

The Met office also advised total suspension of fishing operations and for coastal dwellers to move to safer places. Danger signals ranging from seven to five have been hoisted at Chennai, Ennore, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, and Puducherry ports. Local cautionary signal number three has been hoisted at Pamban and Thoothukudi ports, it said.

Heavy rain lashed Andhra Pradesh's coastal districts under the impact of Cyclone Nilam, whose intensity is expected to increase by Wednesday evening.

Many parts of Nellore and Prakasam districts in south coastal Andhra and Chittoor district in Rayalaseema region have been receiving heavy rain accompanied by strong winds since Tuesday night, officials said.

An alert has been sounded in the south coastal districts of Nellore, Guntur, Prakasam and Krishna. The sea conditions have turned rough with high waves lashing the coast in Nellore. The sea water gushed up to 100 metres from shoreline in some villages.

The education department has declared a holiday for educational institutions in Chittoor and Nellore districts. Roads and low-lying areas were inundated - this included the temple town of Tirupati in Chittoor district.

Warning signals were put out at Machilipatnam, Krishnapatnam, Nizampatnam and Vadarevu ports. 

According to Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning centre, Nilam would cross north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coast between Puducherry and Nellore Wednesday evening.

The Met Office has warned fishermen against venturing out into the sea. It also advised people in coastal areas to remain indoors and take all precautions at the time of the storm's landfall.

An Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin said Nilam was centred about 260 km south-southeast of Chennai at 8.30 a.m. Wednesday.

Gale wind speeds reaching 90 to 100 kmph and even higher would hit  north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts during next 24 hours, according to the warning.

Storm surges of about 1 to 1.5 metres over the astronomical tide are likely to inundate low-lying areas of Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur of Tamil Nadu as well as Nellore. 

Extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts and minor damage to power and communication lines due to uprooting of large avenue trees is feared.

Cyclone Nilam intensifies, lifeboat with 14 people capsizes

Cyclone Nilam has shown its strength even before it crossed the coast, sending an oil tanker in the Bay of Bengal drifting towards the Besant Nagar beach on Wednesday afternoon.

A lifeboat carrying 14 people from the ship capsized in the choppy waters, and fishermen rescued and brought to shore six of them. Eight others were still on the boat at 4.30pm.

Tamil Nadu is on high alert as Cyclone Nilam is roaring towards its coast with winds as strong as that of Superstorm Sandy that shattered the east coast of the US on Tuesday. Weathermen said wind speeds could reach 110kmph when the cyclone is expected to cross the coast late in a few hours.

When the last reports came in around 4pm, the cyclone was located 80km south east of Cuddalore.

The regional meteorological office in Chennai forecast storm surges up to 1.5 metres that could inundate low-lying areas of Chennai and the neighbouring districts of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur.
"The cyclone could bring heavy rains of up to 25cm in the next 24 hours," a Met official said.
Many people remained indoors through the day marked by intermittent spells of rain. However, the Besant Nagar beach attracted a large number of people who jostled to catch a glimpse of Pratibha Cauvery, the ship that started drifting towards the beach.

A port official said, 

"There are 37 people onboard Pratibha Cauvery. It ran aground today (Wednesday) around noon. It has no cargo and weighs 28,741 DWT (deadweight tonnage)."

The official said the Indian Coast Guard has been informed and it is for the ship owners to decide on the next course of action. He said the ship was proceeding to Mumbai after discharging its cargo at Chennai Port. The ship returned as it was called back by the Chennai Port Oct 8, the official said, not wanting to be named. He said the ship's engine was not powerful enough to counter the strong winds and it started drifting towards the shore. 

According to him, the possibility of the ship sailing back depends on the extent of the damage the vessel has suffered. According to Chennai Port officials, all the ships at the harbour were asked to go into the sea as a safety measure. Meanwhile, onlookers at the beach experienced a sort of sand blasting with specks of sand hitting the exposed parts of their bodies at great force as gusts of wind picked up, making them run for cover.

"We came here to see the fury of the sea waves. The bonus is this ship that has run aground," an excited onlooker said.