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Report on One-day INS Seminar Radiation and Environment

Report on One-day INS Seminar “Radiation and Environment” at AMD, Hyderabad

 

A one day seminar on “Radiation and Environment” was organised under the aegis of the Indian Nuclear Society (INS), Hyderabad Chapter on 15th March, 2021 in the premises of Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), AMD Complex, Begumpet, Hyderabad.

The seminar was graced by Dr. Dinesh Srivastava, Chief Executive, Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad, Rear Admiral Sanjay Choubey, Chairman & Managing Director, Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Dr. D.K. Sinha, Director, AMD, Dr. R.K. Vatsa, Head, Public Awareness Division, Department of Atomic Energy, Shri N. Rambabu, Executive Director, ECIL, Shri M. S. Rao, General Manager, Uranium Corporation of India Limited, Tummalapalle Project, eminent Scientists and Professors from various Institutes of Hyderabad, Shri B. Saravanan, Dr. T.S. Sunil Kumar, Shri R. Mamallan, Additional Directors, AMD, senior scientists in AMD and media. Besides, a galaxy of INS Members and other senior scientists attended the seminar virtually.

In the introductory remarks Dr. D.K. Sinha, Director, AMD & Chairman, Indian Nuclear Society, Hyderabad Chapter, emphasised that the prime agenda for organising this seminar is for creating and spreading societal awareness on the benefits of nuclear science and technology to mankind and removing the myths on its environmental impact. DAE’s endeavour is to empower India through energy security, technology, wealth creation and providing better quality of life to the citizens and the ambitious programme of DAE is as per the vision of Dr. Homi Jahangir Bhabha, Father of India’s Atomic Energy Programme. Nuclear energy is a long term and eco-friendly source of electricity and apart from generation of cleaner electricity, nuclear technology generates a number of radioisotopes that have a wide range of applications in industry, health science, mineral exploration, groundwater hydrology, food preservation, medicine, agriculture, etc. DAE’s R&D efforts are focussed for societal benefits and include technologies for production of better crop varieties, crop protection, post-harvest preservation of crops, radio-diagnosis and radiotherapy of diseases particularly cancer, safe drinking water, rural development, industrial growth and better environment. Various organisations under DAE like BARC, NFC, IGCAR, NPCIL, AMD and ECIL strive to ensure energy security for the country through nuclear power and carry out R&D on advanced technologies such as accelerators, lasers, supercomputers, advanced materials and instruments, which contribute to the prosperity of the nation.

Dr. Sinha introduced the theme of the Seminar and highlighted the activities of AMD, which carries out exploration for uranium, thorium, Rare Metals and Rare Earths in an environmentally benign manner in various parts of the country including Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Theme specific lectures by eminent Scientists and Academicians, with vast domain knowledge were delivered in the seminar. The details are given below.

Sl. No. Topic Speaker
1. Nuclear Radiation and its Advantages/Disadvantages Prof. P. Yadagiri Reddy,(Retd.), Dept. of Physics, Osmania University & Former Director, PG Centre, AV College of Arts, Science & Commerce, Hyderabad
2. Geochemistry of radioactive elements in natural environments: contextual to the problem of ionizing radiation in nature Dr. Y.J. Bhaskar Rao Former Director, NGRI, Hyderabad
3. Uses of radioisotope in Nuclear Medicine: Advantages and Disadvantages Dr. Kavitha Nalappareddy, Professor and Head, NIMS, Hyderabad
4. Heavy metals in hydrosphere and their impact on environment. Prof. A.C. Narayana, Honourary professor, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
5. Artificial Recharge of Rain Water and Use of Radioactivity in Water Resource Management Prof. M.V.S.S. Giridhar, Professor & Head, Centre for Water Resources, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Hyderabad
6. Fuel Fabrication at NFC and Environment Shri G.V.S. Hemantha Rao Former Dy. Chief Executive, NFC, Hyderabad
7. Nuclear fusion: Past, Present and Future Prof. P.K. Thiruvikraman, Dept. of Physics, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus

Prof. P. Yadagiri Reddy, Osmania University, Hyderabad deliberated on radiation and its advantage/disadvantage to environment. Dr. Y.J. Bhaskar Rao, NGRI, Hyderabad highlighted the geochemistry of radioelements. Shri G.V.S. Hemantha Rao, NFC, Hyderabad discussed about the nuclear fuel fabrication and its environmental impact. Prof. A.C. Narayana, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad stressed upon the nature of the heavy metals in hydrosphere and their impact on the environment. Prof. M.V.S.S. Giridhar, JNTU, Hyderabad deliberated on the artificial recharge of the rain water and the use of the radioactivity in water resource management. Prof. Kavita Nallappareddy, NIMS, Hyderabad highlighted the uses of the radioisotopes in medicine. Prof P.K.Thiruvikraman, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus deliberated on Nuclear Fusion.

The seminar was also hosted live on Webex platform through which several eminent personalities joined the proceedings. Altogether, 172 people (60 online), including INS Members and serving and retired officials from DAE Units attended the seminar. The event was covered by prominent print and electronic media and 18 media representatives were present at the venue. The media agencies, which participated in the event are- The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, Times of India, The New Indian Express, The Economic Times, Deccan Chronicle, Eenadu, Namaste Telangana, Siasat, ETV News and 10TV. Besides, a freelance journalist also attended the seminar.

The seminar concluded with an interactive session and Panel Discussion on the proceedings by the dignitaries, academicians and scientists. The panellists included Dr. D.K. Sinha, Director, AMD; Dr. Dinesh Srivastava, CE, NFC; Dr. R.K. Vatsa, Head, Public Awareness Division, DAE; Shri N. Rambabu, Executive Directive, ECIL; Shri M.S. Rao, General Manager, Tummalapalle Project, UCIL; Shri G.V.S. Hemantha Rao, Former Dy. Chief Executive, NFC; Dr. Y.J. Bhaskar Rao, Former Director, NGRI; Prof. Yadagiri Reddy, Osmania University; Prof. A.C. Narayana, University of Hyderabad; Prof. M.V.S.S. Giridhar, JNTU; Prof. P.K. Thiruvivramanan, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad and Dr. Madhur Srivastava, Dept. of Nuclear Medicine, NIMS, Hyderabad.

During the discussions, a journalist enquired about the reprocessing of spent fuel and expressed doubt over its worth and economics. The panellists informed about limited uranium resources and abundant thorium resources in India and highlighted the significance of the three stage Nuclear Power Programme. It was informed that unlike many countries, India is following Closed Fuel Cycle to reduce the amount of radioactive waste by reprocessing the spent fuel.

An INS Member enquired about the radiation doses a person is getting exposed during medical examinations like X-ray and CT-scans and the necessary intervals between such examinations. Dr. Madhur Srivastava informed that during medical examinations, no such specific dose limit is prescribed. Justification and optimisation is followed taking care that people should not get unnecessary exposure. Nuclear technology is safe and considering the risk involved, a construction worker is at more risk than a radiation worker working in a nuclear plant for 40 years. It was clarified that no test is available for certifying a person to be normal after exposure to radiation. Certain limits are specified by AERB and symptoms of radiation exposure can be seen only after the exposure is beyond the specified limits.

On an enquiry by a participant about the safety, irradiation cost and its affordability for common man, the panellists informed that the shelf life of farm yield, meat, spices, etc. is extended by only killing the bacteria and no external material is added. The food item is safe as its composition is not changed. The cost is also economical in view of its extended shelf life when compared to cold storage expenses.

It emerged from the discussions that nuclear energy is the long term source of green energy, which will be required in future to achieve the desired goal of ‘low-carbon’ footprint and drive the future long-term industrial requirement of the nation. The significant role that nuclear energy has played in driving sustainable development in all spheres of the society and economy is well understood by the scientists and academicians. However, the need of the hour is to create awareness among general public on the wide ranging peaceful and beneficial applications of nuclear energy in the fields of electricity generation, medicine, industry, agriculture, space, water resources and food preservation. This will not only help in removing the negativity centred around nuclear energy and the myths associated with radioactivity but also encourage the younger generation to accept the significant and positive role of nuclear energy in socio-economic development of the nation. Mass awareness of the societal benefits of nuclear energy will have a cascading effect on its acceptance, especially in rural India, which can catalyse the economic growth of the country in the coming decades.

The objective of organising the seminar was achieved as news articles about the event were seen in major print and electronic media which is likely to bring about a change in public perception about the societal benefits of nuclear science and technology and its contribution to mankind.