Articles of the year 2012

Published on April 17th, 2012

The Nuclear power plant at Hawkes bay in Karachi, that should have been decommissioned years ago having outlived its designed life, is now rumoured to be expanded to supply electricity to a power starved Karachi. Karachiites are already living under a Kanupp (our first nuclear plant) given to monumental blunder in location, as it is situated 10 miles upwind, and upstream of Karachi, a huge city of 18 million people. This plant has a production of only 30 MW, a paltry output, when one considers the risk to Karachi Port Trust, the huge Port of Karachi running 80 percent of the cargo into and out of Pakistan. A mishap at Kanupp would require the evacuation of the entire port, and Chundrigar road, where most of the commercial businesses are located. The disaster at Chernobyl should have rung alarm bells for Pakistan, and for our Govt to be planning an extension in such a location is nothing short of insanity. Chernobyl spread a swathe of radioactivity as far away as Scotland, and even the milk in those areas was found to be radioactive, and unfit for human consumption effecting the dairy industry across northern Europe . Surely this would be a good time to decommission Kanupp, and put the land to better use.

A university perhaps to be able to use the existing offices.

What is definitely not advisable is the continued use of Kanupp as a nuclear power producer.

The Federal Govt must immediately take steps to ensure that the Kanupp reactor itself is closed down. Our Govt officers have never done tests of the seas around the area, and we do not know the extent of the radioactivity leaked into the sea. Or the effect on the marine life. At a meeting with KDA officials I asked whether radiation tests had been done, and I was blithely informed that geiger counters were hugely expensive. And so tests had not been carried out. The effects of radioactivity are grave, and long lasting. The half-life of the Chernobyl spill is five hundred years. Can we shut down Karachi for Fifty let alone five hundred years? The Americans would be delighted if Pakistan were shut down, as this would solve their Pakistan /Taliban problem. For us Pakistanis, we could be looking forward to generations of deformed children, and animals, and fish. Not a pleasant thought.

The MQM, the largest political in Sindh must immediately act, as they have the biggest stake, and they have the political muscle to act swiftly enough in this matter, they also realize these are real problems that require the attention of the Govt, as Kanupp is an accident waiting to happen. We are extremely fortunate that nothing serious has happened so far. Of course we have no idea of the radioactivity levels, and if readings have we've been taken. These findings have never been published and the GOP considers it a national security breach, will not be shared with anyone lest our enemies (read Indian bogeymen) take advantage. The performance of the government has been badly exposed in the recent fires in Karachi and Lahore leaving hundreds dead.

The Govt needs to bury Kanupp, lest we have to evacuate the whole of Karachi. Radioactivity is an insidious phenomenon, for it cannot be seen or felt. It seeps into, and attacks the bone marrow cutting the ability to produce white cells leaving the body without any defence against disease.