2 minute readIndia to begin nuclear safety, emergency response drill

New Delhi: India is holding a nuclear safety audit by carrying out a two-day mock drill of its emergency preparedness at the Tarapur atomic plant in Maharashtra to address gaps in its response mechanisms to nuclear and radiological disasters.

The exercise, to be carried out by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in coordination with the state government, comes 10 days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s diktat to all nuclear establishments in the country to upgrade their safety mechanisms to global standards.

“In order to assess the capability of the district administration to deal with an off-site emergency, NDMA is conducting a mock drill at the Tarapur nuclear facility near Mumbai. The two-day program will commence with a workshop on June 10, which will also include a table-top exercise on the conduct of the mock drill,” a statement from the NDMA said here Thursday.

“The gaps identified in coordination and response preparedness will be addressed by all concerned subsequently,” the statement said.

Manmohan Singh had chaired a special meeting on June 1 with senior NDMA officials to review India’s disaster preparedness, particularly nuclear and radiological emergencies, in the wake of the Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in March.

The workshop on Friday will be inaugurated by NDMA vice chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy, in which NDMA members B. Bhattacharjee and J.K. Sinha will also speak on important aspects of response preparedness, including the incident response system, the statement said.

While Maharashtra chief secretary Ratnakar Yashwant Gaikwad will attend the workshop, other state government officials, including the Thane district magistrate and the superintendent of police, will make presentations on their preparedness to counter nuclear emergencies.

On Saturday, a mock drill will be conducted involving all stakeholders, such as the National Disaster Relief Force, the district police, the civil defense and the home guard, who will display their capability and readiness to counter nuclear and radiological emergencies.

India has 20 operational nuclear reactors across the country, mostly for civilian energy use. It also boasts of “an enviable and impeccable record of safety and security and virtually fail-safe arrangements in all its nuclear establishments, but preparedness to deal with an unlikely emergency has to be highly focused upon,” the statement added.

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