India’s Energy Security

December 7, 2009

a version of this paper was published by ‘eternal india: the new perspectives monthly’ from the india first foundation in november 2009. another version was accepted by a conference at osmania university, hyderabad on india’s energy issues in march 2009.

energy security paper version 4

india’s mandarins sat on their behinds for decades; when they realized they had forsworn energy security, they made a mad scramble for nuclear fission, which is probably the worst solution for india, barring oil. the recent incident at the kaiga reactor where tritium was inserted into a water cooler was a graphic demonstration of the perils of terrorism and sabotage that loom large in india — chernobyl will be a cakewalk.

the omniscient mandarins like nuclear because there is opportunity for graft.

the best solution for india is likely to be solar; there should be a manhattan-project-like concentrated effort to induce innovation in this area. but there isn’t.

it is not clear what india is doing in copenhagen, but it is highly likely that the u-turns and volte-faces will end up in india accepting some position that is highly damaging to the country’s growth in return for vague promises of something or the other from others.

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3 Responses to “India’s Energy Security”

  1. mayurdas Says:

    I request you to please tell me whether tritium is a liquid or gas or a solid and how it could be inserted into the water cooler (I believe you mean to say “inserted into the water in the water cooler”)?

  2. rajeev2007 Says:

    a vial containing tritium (i think it is a gas) was inserted into the water cooler, thus irradiating the water, which was then consumed by a number of workers. there are suspicions about illegal bangladeshi employees of a contractor being involved.

  3. udishtir Says:

    @mayurdas

    “That’s right!” ( to caricature certain English news anchors in CNN-IBN channel :-} ), Tritium IS a gas at the normal pressures and temperatures of atmosphere that surround us on planet earth.

    However, please consider this fact: At normal pressure and temperature, Tritium gas, having a density of approximately 0.0003 gm / cc is much much lighter than air which has a density of approximately 0.001 gm / cc under the same pressure and temperature conditions. So how could Tritium gas be put into a vial (a small bottle usually made of glass, used to collect water samples from the reactor plant systems) without the use of complex equipment such as pump / compressor, special seals etc. Even if one could some how entrap Tritium gas into a bottle, seal it and transport it to the water cooler, how could he let the Tritium out into the water in the water cooler without complex tools? So, I consider this scenario improbable.

    May I recommend to the readers of this blog to two recent articles on this Kaiga incident which, I think give some details of the incident:

    a) http://upiasia.com/Security/2009/12/03/contamination_at_indian_nuclear_plant_not_a_leak/4980/

    b) http://www.hindu.com/seta/2009/12/03/stories/2009120350081300.htm

    Without intending to sound pedantic, may I offer the following comment:

    Tritium (T), like Deuterium (D), is an isotope of Hydrogen (H). Hence its chemical properties are the same as that of Hydrogen. In nature, both T and D exist as HDO and HTO, in small quantities, in the water (be it from well, lake, river, or ground etc) that we use every day. It is formed (in relatively small quantities) in the D2O used in Kaiga type reactors (PHWRs) as DTO, due to neutron irradiation of the moderator / coolant.

    In summary, T atoms exist mostly as liquid DTO (very very rarely as T2O) molecules, commingled in the moderator and coolant water (D2O).

    “Illegal bangladeshi employees of a contractor” implies the workers did not have appropriate visas or work permits to work in India. Then how could the contractor be permitted to employ them to do plant work? Are they still available for investigations or have they “run away”?

    There have been media reports that a similar incident had taken place, some time in early 1990’s, in what may be considered as one of Kaiga’s “elder sister” plants in Canada. If that be so, then, there is a possibility that whoever did this mix-up at Kaiga was aware of the precedent incident in Canada and perhaps thought only of the ‘health-wise relatively minor’ consequences of what he was doing, not realising the overall and larger implications of his ‘misdeed’. By the way, how was the perpetrator punished in Canada?


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