It is then we realized we are so close to the KKNPP. Yes, less than 900 metres away. There are more than 2000 of us living here. It seems we are referred to as the Sterilised Zone or Evacuation Zone of the Nuclear power plant. I wonder what is expected of us by being categorized so. When we moved in first here, I heard my father talking to the neighbours about an agreement that gave only conditional ownership to the buildings. The title deed says that in case of an emergency, we have to leave the place immediately.
He was wondering what the exact definition of emergency is. I remember he and his friends pointing to the KKNPP and exclaim, “Would they be meaning a disaster or accident there?” Though we are now farther from the ocean, would it mean another tsunami that would trigger off an accident there?” These questions were clearly and cruelly answered by the Fukushima images.
Yesterday was a tough day for us. The Madras High Court gave a clear signal for commissioning the KKNPP. They say everything is alright here. But we who live so close to the plant have no clue as to what is happening. There was fear and silence all around. But my mother and sister kept repeating that we would fight until the plant is closed. That made me also hopeful.
We are sure that once it starts fuel loading, criticality and production, there is no going back. We are aware that even if an accident does not happen, an operational plant will emit many substances into the air that are radioactive. How will it impact our health living less than 900 metres from the KKNPP? We see the rising chimneys of the plant and imagine what will be coming out. We have no idea.
The High Court has asked the Pollution Control Board to monitor the temperature of water that is thrown back into the sea after desalination and cooling. Whether at 45 degrees or 35 degrees is the debate. Hot water is hot water. How can we decide how much temperature the organisms in the sea can tolerate? We may know about a few.
But are there not so many of them- from small beings that our eyes cannot even see to the big ones. My brother who is a good fisherman says it will kill all life. And will the water that comes out be pure- will it not contain remnants of the radioactive elements that it cools? My friend Selja is bothered about how it might poison the fishes we export and also reach children in other parts. That seems to be a bad thing to happen. But how can we live without fishing and export? We know of no other livelihood.
Where do we run to in case of an emergency? We have run once. Will the thick walls of the church stop the radiation? Is it in a safer zone? We have no idea as we sit here talking and wondering. Last time, I invited you to come and share a meal. But now I may not because I want you all to remain healthy. Please carry the message of peace and hope from us to all the children that you know. Let them now that here in this remote coastal village a whole lot of people are preparing to overcome the impacts of the decision by continuing to struggle for life and justice. As little Jeni said: “ How beautiful life would have been without the looming Nuclear Power Plant. How we would have played and sung in joy….”
(Prepared by Anitha Sharma based on conversations with Ignatius, Jasmine, Resmila, Abisa, Roshini, Risiska, Juliya, Shantini, Manju, Roshini, Kysiska, Selja, Sathya, Shyamini, Jeni, Labisha, Vinita, Washington, Nivetha, Arnold, TheresaMary, Raja, Preston and Ronald)
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