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Anti-nuke protesters renew struggle

Anger as nod is given to install uranium rods

Thousands of anti-nuclear protesters rally outside the nuclear plant
Thousands of anti-nuclear protesters rally outside the nuclear plant
  • ucanews.com reporter, Thiruvananthapuram
  • India
  • September 10, 2012
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Thousands of people opposed to the opening of a new nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu state have launched fresh protests after the country’s atomic regulatory body gave the go ahead for fueling to take place there.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board  last month approved the installation of 163 enriched uranium fuel rods for one of the two reactors at the US$3 billion plant.

Built with Russian technology at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, the plant was due to start operations last December.

The move to install the nuclear rods prompted thousands of people, who have been campaigning against the plant since 2004 to descend upon the facility. The protesters, who include fishermen and farmers from at least 20 villages, call the plant “a disaster waiting to happen.”

“We marched along the seashore and approached the plant from the rear,” said S.P. Udayakumar, coordinator of People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which is spearheading the protest.

He told reporters that the protesters avoided security forces by changing their route at the last minute.“We are sitting in the sand and will remain here,” he said.

Around 2,000 security and police personnel had been deployed as tension mounted in the area over the past few days.

But the police were unable to arrest PMANE leaders as they were surrounded by women and children.

“We will not resort to violence and our protests will be peaceful," said  Udayakumar. "We have no faith in the state or federal governments as they are trying to commission the plant without following mandatory procedures.”

The protesters have called on the state government to allow an independent body to conduct oceanography, hydrology and geology studies around the plant.

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