As we know that one of the most risky place to work to work is nuclear power plant where the risk of radiation emission is high, if proper measures are not taken the radiation may cause physical as well as mental injury to the workmen working there, this may also lead to injury to their upcoming generations as well and the work in nuclear sector cannot be don be through machines only the humans can be given the duty to deal with the operation, so there are multiple conventions made to provide the safety, security to the workmen working, also government of India have followed the same convention and enacted the laws for safety, security and welfare of the workers. In this paper we are going to find to what extent these laws and policies are applicable what changes are to be taken for making these effectively applicable and the challenges faced by the authorities in applying these laws and policies, and the judiciary’s importance in providing the safety, security to the workers.
Nuclear energy industry is important in multiple manners such as generating electricity, forming explosives, and without depletion of natural resources. Due to high significance of nuclear energy countries had established there nuclear power plants for generating electricity, the workmen working in these nuclear power plant have danger of taking in different radiations that are emitted from the elements used in power plants and these radiations causes mental as well as physical harm also these radiations may cause harm to their future generations as well, so taking care of the workmen is the responsibility of government, government has enacted many laws which have provisions which govern the working condition of the workmen working in the nuclear power plant, also many international conventions time to time has been made so that all the countries having nuclear energy would keep in check that there workmen’s are safe and that nuclear energy is used for only the welfare of people. There has been a lot of changes on the rules and policies made for the workmen, time to time the government for rules but due to loopholes in the system these policies and rules are not followed and they are still not followed, implemented in effective manner, the judiciary has also played severe role in providing the justice to the sufferer form these nuclear energy plants, but still there are many people those who get affected by the radiation and no one helps then after the suffering all laws, policies, even judicial decisions fail in providing relief just because of the fact that initially all the laws, policies are not effectively made applicable and proper safety measure is not been taken. In India, nuclear power plants and industry are primarily governed by the Atomic Energy Act 1962; the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) governs the policies and safety protocols related to nuclear power in India. The nuclear power program in India is carried out with full regard for nuclear and radiation safety, which includes the safety of the plant personnel, the public and the environment around the plants?
WHAT ARE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS?
A nuclear power plant uses the heat produced by nuclear fission in a closed environment to turn water into steam and drive a generator to produce electricity. The construction and operation of these power plants is closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), but accidents can happen.Accidents could result in dangerous radiation levels that could affect the health and safety of people living near nuclear power plants.
Presently there are 22 operating nuclear reactors with having an installed capacity of 6780 MWe in India. Among the total reactors 18 are a pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) and 4 are light water reactors (LWR). List of nuclear power plants in India are-:
|DATE OF COMMERCIAL OPPERATION
|GROSS POWER (MWe)
|Tarapur Atomic Power Plant-1 (TAPS-1)
|Tarapur Nuclear Power Plant-2 (TAPS-2)
|Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant-1(RAPS-1)
|Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant-2 (RAPS-2)
|Madras Atomic Power Plant-1 (MAPS-1)
|Madras Atomic Power Plant-2 (MAPS-2)
|Narora Atomic Power Plant-1 (NAPS-1)
|NARORA, UTTAR PRADESH
|Narora Atomic Power Plant-2 (NAPS-2)
|NARORA, UTTAR PRADESH
|Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant-1 (KAPS-1)
|Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant-2 (KAPS-2)
|Kaiga Generating Station-1 (KGS-1)
|Kaiga Generating Station-2 (KGS-2)
|Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant-3 (RAPS-3)
|Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant-4 (RAPS-4)
|Kaiga Generating Station-3 (KGS-3)
|Kaiga Generating Station-4 (KGS-4)
|Tarapur Atomic Power Plant-3 (TAPS-3)
|Tarapur Atomic Power Plant-4 (TAPS-4)
|Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant-5 (RAPS-5)
|Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant-6 (RAPS-6)
|Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station-1 (KKNPS-1)
|Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station-2 (KKNPS-2)
At high doses, ionizing radiation can cause immediate harm to the human body, including radiation sickness and death at very high doses.At low doses, ionizing radiation can cause health effects such as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and cancer. It causes cancer primarily because it damages DNA, which can lead to cancer-causing gene mutations.
Nuclear power plants are among the safest and secure facilities in the world. Radiation workers in nuclear industry like other radiation workers form a unique group. These are adult workers whose radiation doses areregularly measured at work. These records are retained. Radiation protection experts agree that high doses of ionizing radiation can cause cancer. Nuclear power plant workers receive low doses of radiation.
Workers at nuclear power plants receive a certain amount of radiation. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has strict procedures in place to maintain worker doses within the limits mandated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
Radiation protection standards are based on studies by scholarly bodies such as the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation Committee, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).
Nuclear power plants have safety and security procedures in place and are closely monitored by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).They point out that at low doses, similar to those to which nuclear power plant workers are exposed, the risk of radiation, if any, is negligible. Such risks are not actually risks at all. Working at a Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is not a dangerous occupation.
PROVISIONS IN INDIA
The Nuclear power is the one of the most valuable resource for a country, and for facilitating the effective, optimum and secure use of nuclear power, it is one of the requisite to make the nuclear power plants a safe working place for the workers, providing the safety from the emitted radiation to the workers working in the nuclear power plants will allow employers to work efficiently without any fear of getting effected from radiation. Thus, the government has made rules and enacted laws related to nuclear power and safety of workers, some of the laws are listed below:-
- The Atomic Energy Act, 1962
- Atomic Energy (Working of the Mines, Minerals and Handling of prescribed substances) Rules, 1984
- Atomic Energy (Safe Disposal of Radioactive Wastes) Rules, 1987
- Atomic Energy (Factories) Rules, 1996
- Radiation Protection Rules, 2004
- Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010
- Notification of Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011
- THE ATOMIC ENERGY ACT, 1962
The Act is to provide for the development, control and utilization of atomic energy for the welfare of the people of India and for other peaceful purposes and for matters connected therewith. By law, the central government is required to prevent radiation hazards, guarantee public safety and the safety of workers handling radioactive substances, and ensure the disposal of radioactive waste. Under SECTION 11, 14, 15 and 16 of the Atomic Energy Act 1962 the government has the exclusive right to take control of the mining and production of radioactive materials, section 17of the Act prescribes safety measures for employees working in the radioactive industry. The Act gives the Center the power to regulate nuclear research, production and transport of radioactive substances, along with the production and delivery of nuclear energy.
- ATOMIC ENERGY (MINING, MINERALS AND HANDLING OF PRESCRIBED SUBSTANCES) RULES, 1984
This rule was framed for the purpose of regulating the mining by provisions stating the criteria in which a person can take a license for mining, SECTION 4 states the conditions precedent to the issue of a license; SECTION 6 states the Qualification of staff, SECTION 8 talks about duties and responsibility of radiology safety officer, SECTION 9 talks about duties and responsibility of Safety Officer and have many more sections for the purpose. These rules was mainly issued to keep check on the illegal mining activities, and providing the safety to the workers by appointing the Radiology safety officer and safety officer and giving them the power and responsibility to regulate and maintain the safety and security of the workers in atomic mines.
- ATOMIC ENERGY (FACTORIES) ACT, 1996
It is mandatorily applies to all the factories owed by for the Central Government and applies to all plants involved in activities under the Atomic Energy Act 1962.Regulates health inspectors, workplace hygiene, machinery, manual work, and safe use of protective equipment. Chapter 6 on working hours, Chapter 7 prohibits the employment of employees under the age of 18.Provides special working conditions for work with lasers and toxic substances. It repealed the earlier atomic energy (factories) rules, 1984.
- RADIATION PROTECTION RULES, 2004
The Rules are made under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (33 of 1962).Radiation protection should prevent the occurrence of detrimental deterministic effects and reduce the probability of occurrence of stochastic effects (such as cancer and genetic damage).The principle for directing radiation protection is “ALARA”. ALARA stands for “as low as reasonably achievable”. ALARA means that even if the dose is small, you will not be exposed to radiation that does not directly benefit you. Three basic protective measures in radiation protection: Time, Distance and Shielding.
- CIVI LIABILITY FOR NUCLEAR DAMAGE ACT, 2010
An Act to Establish a Nuclear Damage Claims Commission, Appoint a Claims Commissioner, and Provide civil liability for nuclear damage and provide prompt compensation to victims of nuclear accidents. Through a no-fault liability system that shifts liability to operators and for Matters Connected or Incidental Thereto. The key features of the act are:
- Establish procedures to establish liability for nuclear damage and to compensate victims.
- All operators (except the central government) are required to take out insurance or provide a financial guarantee to cover their liability.
- The law regulates who can claim compensation and which authorities assess and award compensation for nuclear damage.
- For government-owned entities, the government bears full liability up to SDR 300 million.
- ATOMIC ENERGY (SAFE DISPOSAL OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE) RULES, 1987
The purpose of the enactment of this regulation is to monitor nuclear waste repositories. Disposal of nuclear waste must be done with prior notice to the authorities. Legal provisions clearly stipulate the permits that must be obtained before waste can be disposed of. Section 3 of the rule states that no one should dispose of nuclear waste without official approval by the authorities. Nuclear waste should be disposed of according to official guidelines of the authority.
SAFETY MEASURES BY ATOMIC ENERGY REGULATORY BOARD (AERB)
The independent AERB is to have power to make rules, policies and lay down safety standards to ensure the safety and effectively implementation of safety provisions. AERB forms and implement safety directives for the nuclear power plants, The Safety Guides are issued to describe and make available methods of implementing specific parts of relevant Codes of Practice as acceptable to AERB, Radiological protection of the workers is ensured by the following measures:-
- DESIGN CRITERIA
It is based on ensuring protection aimed at avoiding unnecessary radiation exposure and minimizing unavoidable radiation exposure. The Design considerations for protection from radiation includes: –
The ICRP- 60 which recommends that the dose limit for favorable working should not exceed 20 mSv in a year for workers, must be followed for all future plants and those which are under design. In addition to this, the shielding must be provided such that it ensure the dose rates in fully occupied area work place must not exceed 1 microsievert per hour,
Design for ventilation must be such that the air concentrations of activities in fully occupied area of work place do not increase over 1by10 of the derived air concentrations.
- DOSE LIMIT
The exposure dose limit for the workers in the nuclear power plant, the dose limit for occupational workers both men and women which shall be controlled are-
Effective dose of
- 20 mSvyr averaged over five consecutive years,
- 30 mSv in any year
- 6 mSv in a year (apprentice and trainee between ages of 16 to 18yrs)
Dose equivalent to
- 150 mSv in a year for the lens of eye,
- 500 mSv in a year for skin,
- eye is 50 mSv in a year (apprentice and trainee between ages of 16 to 18yrs)
- 150 mSv in a year for hands and feet (apprentice and trainee between ages of 16 to 18yrs)
- 150 mSv in a year for skin (apprentice and trainee between ages of 16 to 18yrs)
- For pregnant women the equivalent dose limit to embryo shall be 1 mSv for remainder of pregnancy
3.HEALTH PHYSICS UNIT (HPUs)
Each NPP has a Health Physics Unit (HPU), comprising of a group of trained and experienced radiation protection professionals, who, in coordination with plant management, implement the radiation protection program in the plant. The duties and responsibility of the HPUs are- to advise plant management regarding the measures to be taken to control the radiation exposure, to arrange and implement monitoring system, radiation survey, and other safety, surveillance functions.
- HEALTH SURVEILLANCE AND MEDICAL EXAMINATION
The AERB provides in the Radiation Protection Rules, 2004 the rules for health surveillance and medical examination with the object to- assess the health status of workers, to help in ensuring compatibility between the health and working condition of workers, to initially provide basic knowledge to workers about the radiation exposure at the time of work and at the time of emergency. It is also stipulated that the plant management must appoint a doctor with special training in industrial and radiation medicine who is competent to advise and supervise medical examinations and treatment.
According to ATOMIC ENERGY (RADIATION PROTECTION) RULES, 2004 FORMED BY AERB–
Section 7 states that (1) No person who is below the age of 18 year shall be employed as worker and (2) No person under the age of 16 shall be taken s trainee or apprentice for nuclear work.
Section 19states that a radiological safety office must be appointed by the employer in place where nuclear operations take place. And Section 22 of the rules mentions various responsibilities of the radiological safety officer such as- carrying out routine measurement and analysis on radiation level in controlled area, advise the employer to ensure that the regulatory constrains and other rules are being followed regarding radiation level, Instructing and educating workers about the dangers of radiation and about appropriate safety measures and work procedures aimed at optimizing exposure to radiation sources; and advice the modification working condition of pregnant women.
Section 25is regarding the health surveillance of the workers which provides that it’s the duty of every employer to provide the services of a physician with appropriate qualifications to undertake occupational health surveillance of classified workers, every worker once in a three year as long as they are employed shall get medical examination and health surveillance which include special tests or medical examinations and counseling for pregnant women. Section 28provides direction if any worker exceeds the radiation exposure limit.
The judiciary as having its inherent function provides safeguards to the rights of the citizens; judiciary has also played an important role in implementation of the rules which are framed for the protection of workers in Nuclear power plants, In case of G. Sundarrajan v. Union of India and Others, the appellants opposed the kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) on grounds of safety and environment protection, the appellants contended that the people of plant area have fundamental right to safety and security under article 21of the constitution and for protection of rights they can move to court, in addition to this Articles 47, 48-A, 51(A)g, 38, 32, 136, 226 and 142 applied for various issues. The prayer was to close down the KNPP.
The Supreme court after hearing all the contentions made by the parties, held that the Nuclear power plant comply with all the statutory guidelines and standards set by Indian and foreign expert bodies, KKNPP cannot be directed to be closed down, it has got all the necessary clearances, NOCs, and approvals Establishment of KKNPP is valid and court cannot go into the safety standards set by experts, all the safety standards which are to be followed are given in statutes, rules, and regulations, Moreover KKNPP Project is justifiable, viable, valid and is according to the principles of sustainable development, principle of intergenerational equality, principle of greatest good of the greatest number. But when it comes to right to life and safety of the citizens, the court can interfere and exercise its adjudicating power to allay the fear of the citizens, for this purpose the court gave several directions to ensure safety.
The Supreme Court in judgment gave several directions for the issue of safety which are-:
- AERB, NPCIL and DAE need to give final permission to start the plant and ensure the quality of the various components and systems as reliability is key and the plant will be
- MOEF has confirmed that NPCIL complies with the conditions set in the Notice to Provide 2006 EIA Notice dated 23 September 2008 and the MOEF Environmental Impact Assessment dated 31 December 2009. Must be supervised and monitored.AERB and MOEF monitor compliance with specified conditions before the plant goes into operation.
- NPCIL, AERB, and regulators are required to maintain a level of vigilance and regularly inspect facilities at least once every three If deficiencies are found, maintaining safety is an ongoing process, not just the design, but this prolongs the operation of the nuclear power plant. Protecting nuclear power plants, radio active materials and ensuring physical security for the NSF is also paramount.
- NPCIL is required to send reports to AERB on a regular basis, and if errors are found in the reports, AERB is required to take prompt action on those
- Generated SNF shall be handled in a safe manner to ensure protection of human health and the environment from unacceptable effects of current and future ionizing radiation by developing and implementing appropriate monitoring and surveillance programs is needed.
- Designaspects of a viable AFR in KKNPP should be reviewed periodically by the AERB to ensure that there are no adverse environmental impacts from such storage, thereby avoiding fears and fears expressed by the Concerns may also be alleviated.
- AERB, NPCILand Tamil Nadu should take reasonable steps to implement the 2009 National Disaster Management Guidelines and conduct regular onsite and offsite emergency
- AERB, NPCIL, MOEFand TNCB oversee all aspects of the matter prior to commissioning the facility, including facility safety, environmental impact and quality of the various components and systems of the A corresponding report must be drawn up in this court before the plant goes into operation.
- NPCIL mustensure that the release of radioactive material into the aquatic atmosphere and the release of radioactive material over land does not exceed limits set by regulatory
As the government have made laws for proper regulation of the Nuclear power plants, which are even getting implemented through the NCIL and the AERB, also these authorities again have radiation protection standards that are based on studies by scientific bodies such as the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).
So there is no gap between the formulation of the laws and the rules and there implementation, yes in ground level there must be some defective practices taking place but overall these rules and laws have been implemented effectively, and the workers are also safe in nuclear power plant and are working without fear any fear and with full efficiency.
At last the three things on which the government may have to work, because of the reason of increase in energy consumption and are the ways for more effective implementation of new policies, rules and laws, which will be based on technological advancement and changing needs are-:
- Amending the Atomic Energy Lawto allow public sector companies to set up joint ventures to build nuclear power plants
- Resolvedissues related to the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLND) and the establishment of the Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP).
- Workersmust be trained to deal with
As we know the Nuclear energy is one of the most important assets a country can have and it has taken a revolution in world as it is the most feasible, clean and does not deplete any natural resource, providing safe environment for work in the nuclear power plant is challenge for the government, and not just adopting safety standards is enough, the government must be vigilant, proactive and transparent regarding its rules and laws. With growing population there is robust growth in energy requirement and without any lagging so for fulfilling this need the nuclear energy is the most suitable and feasible. So for encouraging the use of nuclear energy for fulfilling the energy need and not for using it for other human danger as well as environment danger purposes, different countries must make a deal and make the best use of the nuclear energy without leaving any opportunity for using the nuclear energy for other purpose than that of using it for fulfilling the need of people, and for improving the mankind and environment.
 K.S Parthasarathy ,“Is working in a nuclear power plant risky?”, THE HINDU, MAY 13, 2016, https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/is-working-in-a-nuclear-power-plant-risky/article5526497.ece
 Rights of workers in Indian radioactive industry, Sep 5, 2021, https://blog.ipleaders.in/rights-of-workers-in-indian-radioactive-industry/
 Atomic energy act, 1962.
 Samhita R.H. Nidigattu, Rights of workers in Indian radioactivity industry, https://blog.ipleaders.in/rights-of-workers-in-indian-radioactive-industry/#:~:text=According%20to%20S.,working%20in%20the%20radioactive%20industry.
 Atomic energy act, 1962, Section 17.
Atomic energy (Working of the mines, minerals and handling of prescribed substance) rules, 1984, Section 4.
 Atomic energy (Working of the mines, minerals and handling of prescribed substance) rules, 1984, Section 6.
Atomic Energy (Operations of Mines, Minerals and Management of Prescribed Substance) Rules, 1984, Section 8.
Atomic Energy (Operation of Mines, Minerals and Management of Prescribed Substance) Rules, 1984, Section 9.
Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010.
Atomic Energy (Safe Disposal of Radioactive Waste) Rules, 1987, Section 13.
 AERB design safety guide “control of airborne radioactive materials in pressurised heavy water reactors”, https://www.aerb.gov.in/storage/uploads/documents/regdoc97Ddg.pdf
 AERB safety directive no. 2, 1991.
 The Dose limits for exposure from Ionising radiations for workers and the members of the public, AERB directive No. 01 2011.
R. Deolalikar, Safety in nuclear power plants in India, IJOEM DEC, 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796747/
Radiation protection rules, 2004.
Atomic energy (Radiation protection) rules, 2004, Section 7.
Atomic energy (Radiation protection) rules, 2004, Section 19.
 Atomic energy (Radiation protection) rules, 2004, Section 22.
 Atomic energy (Radiation protection) rules, 2004, Section 25.
 Atomic energy (Radiation protection) rules, 2004, Section 28.
 (2013) 6 SCC 620