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Seminar on “Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Consequences”

Fukushima nuclear disaster has created serious panic all around the world regarding the use of nuclear power but we do not have any other best option than using nuclear power in the globe and even in Bangladesh taking full safety and highest precaution measures in this regard.

This was observed by the speakers at a seminar on “Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Consequences” held at the conference lounge of the National Press Club on 23 April 2011. Bangladesh Science Writers and Journalists Forum (BSWJF), one of the members of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) has organised this seminar. Prof M A Qaiyum, member of the Forum and former Chairman of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission presented the keynote paper.

Prof Dr. M. Shamser Ali, member of the Forum, Chairman of the Bangladesh Academy of Science and Founder Vice-Chancellor of the Bangladesh Open University, Dr Jasim Uddin Ahmad, Former Director, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr Abdul Matin, Former Chief Engineer, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and Senior Faculty at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Engr Kazi Obaidul Awal, Former Chief Engineer, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), M A Wahab, member of the Forum and a science writer took part in the discussion.

Mir Lutful Kabir Saadi, General Secretary of the forum gave an address of welcome and read out from a write-up sent specially for this seminar by Hajime hikino, Secretary General of the Japanese Association of Science and Technology Journalists (JASTJ). Golap Munir, Vice-President of the Forum and editor of the Monthly Computer Jagat conveyed vote of thanks. Dr Mobarak Ali Akand, Vice-President of the forum and former Director, Bangladesh Science Museum was in the Chair.

Prof M A Qaiyum in his keynote paper pointed out that the chain reaction at all Fukushima reactors has ceased. The explosions that have occurred have taken place outside the steel and concrete containment vessels enclosing the reactors. From the compounded disaster of Fukushima reactors due to earthquake and tsunami, many lessons may be learned. Since the whole process has not yet been under control or in other words, not yet completed we have to wait and see the ultimate outcome and hence we can learn more. He however opined that any speculation regarding radioactivity to travel from Japan to Bangladesh could be ruled out.

Prof Dr. M. Shamser Ali said we need more and more energy for our livelihood but the source of energy is limited. He said there are many committees and movements against nuclear disarmament. However, the truth, the cleanest source of energy, is nuclear. Though Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, we have no other option other than nuclear energy. He pointed out that 70 per cent power generated in France came from nuclear energy. India is also going ahead with nuclear power, so we cannot sit legging behind.

Dr Jasim Uddin Ahmad pointed out that Fukushima power plants were the first generation reactors established some 40 years ago. At present, the nuclear power reactors available are of the third generation type, which imply that many engineering design safety, human error safety measures have already incorporated during manufacturing phase. However, it would be wise to wait for the analysis of the impacts of the Fukushima disaster so that appropriate safety measures can be incorporated into the design of the power plants, which is under consideration in Bangladesh.

He further pointed out that Bangladesh is a country practically devoid of indigenous energy resources. However, for its industrial, agricultural and for other sectorial growth it needs power. Nuclear power is no doubt option. While nuclear power appears to be a relief in the short term for Bangladesh, the major nuclear accidents in developed countries bring into picture the scenario of high risks to be considered most seriously.

Dr Abdul Matin said Japan’s nuclear disaster at Fukushima would have a significant impact on the future of nuclear power around the world and that of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Project in Bangladesh. He said Germany has shut down seven of its oldest power plants whose operating lives were extended after expiry of their design lives. Spain and Portugal are in favor of gradually phasing out nuclear power, a move opposed by France and Britain. The safety aspects of all nuclear plants in the USA are being reviewed. Russia is also reviewing its nuclear policy.

He said EU countries agreed to carry out assessment of possible damage of earthquakes and other natural calamities on the 143 nuclear power plants located 14 EU countries. China decided to conduct a comprehensive safety inspection for every nuclear facility. India has announced a review of safety systems in its nuclear power plants but many believe that there are no indications for a shift in its pro-nuclear policy, he opined.

Dr Matin further argued that Nuclear power is not an adversary that is likely to eliminate humankind from the planet. It is a challenging to humankind. In the past humankind faced such challenges with courage, knowledge and ingenuity. If we surrender when challenged by adversaries, the end of human civilization will come sooner and even without nuclear power.

Engr Kazi Obaidul Awawl said people are eager for prosperous life and power is must for that purpose. He said in Japanese reactor tsunami effects were not considered. Japan is the most victims of nuclear effects since World War II; however, Japan has 55 nuclear power plants. He noted that safety culture, quality assurance is most important things but in Bangladesh though we have nuclear act but we are not following that. He further emphasized that Bangladesh should have nuclear power, which has no other option.

Hajime hikino in is write-up specially sent for this seminar from Japan pointed out that at present concerning nuclear accident there remains three big problem: how to reestablish the recycle cooling system, how to dispose 70 thousand tons of high-level contaminated water in the power plant building and how long the refugees from evacuation zone must stay outside the zone. He thinks three to six months time will be needed to solve all this problems. Hajime expressed his satisfaction that in the disaster area there is no price gauging and no robberies. People are helping each other and even many people had died while helping other sides. As a Japanese Hajime is happy and feels very proud in this respect.

He further noted that many newspaper and TV companies in Japan came to realize the necessity of science journalism. He mentioned that there are about 100 newspaper companies in Japan. Among them only six newspaper have science news department. Most small newspaper has no science writer. He said Newspapers and Televisions attitude toward nuclear accident are objective and not to cause panic among people. Many newspaper and magazine had changed its contents, reduced sports and entertainment pages and have special pages on nuclear accidents.

Mir Lutful Kabir Saadi said nuclear power is the best source of energy. Being a small and highest densely populated country of the world Bangladesh should positively think about using nuclear power taking all safety measures. Rooppur Nuclear Power Project of the country should go ahead immediately, he opined.

Dr Mobarak Ali Akand in is speech from chair noted that nuclear power generated the most power in the planet. However it has lot of risk factors, its safety use is the most important issue. We cannot ignore this power in our country, he noted.

This program was worldwide live web cast through internet by “comjagat.com” as media partner.

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