Karachi’s Nuclear Reactors – Is Pakistan Ready?

There has been a lot of debate surrounding China’s decision to build two nuclear reactors near Karachi. While one side believes this is the only option for the power-starved nation; others are adamant that building nuclear reactors so close to a city housing over 20 million people is a huge mistake. Keeping in view Pakistan’s dismal track record in developing pro-active approaches to disaster management and safety measures, it is no surprise that these reactors are being seen as more of a threat than an opportunity.

Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument to get a better idea of this whole issue.

The Proponents

The major point cited by advocates of the nuclear reactor is the power crisis in Pakistan. The production of electricity is far outnumbered by the demand of Pakistan’s fast growing population. Therefore, scheduled and unscheduled load shedding aimed at reducing the consumption of electricity is very common.

In fact most people can’t even remember a time when there was no load shedding. Proponents of the Chinese nuclear reactors say that the fastest and cheapest way of dealing with the country’s power woes is building the two nuclear reactors. With an estimated production of 2.2 gigawatts of energy, the nuclear reactors might just be our only chance at fulfilling our power needs.

Recently, Director General (Corporate) PNRA Zaheer Ayub Baig said that the chances of releasing radioactive material from the reactors into the environment are very low. He mentioned some of the factors that make the two nuclear reactors, named K-2 and K-3, safe. These include:

  • A double containment wall to avoid the release of radioactive material
  • Karachi’s population is within the requirements of nuclear power plants
  • No development will be allowed in the vicinity of the plants
  • The design can withstand an earthquake of 9.0 Richter scale

All official statements revolve around the premise that there cannot be an accident. Keep in mind, no one has put forward a disaster recovery plan in case there is a leak. It reminds me of Philip Franklin, the Vice-President of White Star Line, and his famous words about the Titanic: “We believe that the boat is unsinkable.”

The Opponents

The opposition to the development of these two nuclear reactors comes from all fronts and various places. The international community’s major concern is that Pakistan is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This automatically disqualifies the country from receiving any assistance for its nuclear programs. While China seems to be defying the rule by helping Pakistan, members of the NPT are rising concerns over a non-member country increasing its nuclear power undeterred.

Closer to home, the opposition to K-2 and K-3 comes from some leading names including well-known physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy and Muhammad Tahir Qureshi, an environmentalist with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Some of the major concerns are:

  • The site of the reactors is too close to the city of Karachi; in case of an accident it would be quite difficult to safeguard human lives in a city as large as Karachi.
  • The design of these reactors is new and thus untested. There are no reactor with the new ACP-1000 design even within China so statements about its cutting edge technology and safety are ere speculations.
  • Pouring cooling water from the rectors into the sea could adversely affect sea-life thus directly affecting the livelihood of many of Karachi’s fishermen who still rely on this as their major source of income.
  • There is no transparency about the plant’s systems or its safety measures, making it almost impossible to judge the veracity of statements issued about the safety of the reactors.
  • There is no clear explanation of how the nuclear waste will be disposed of.

While the government and proponents of the nuclear reactors trudge full steam ahead with their plan of providing us with cheap, reliable energy, we wonder just how costly such an endeavor could be in case of an accident. Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s water, power and defense minister, says, “The risks are there. You cannot discount them, but you prepare for them.” The real questions is: How well is Pakistan prepared to handle a nuclear disaster?

  • I am against building nuclear reactors. Though they are cheap source of energy but considering the management and disaster response capability of our national institutions including Army, it will be a HUGE risk. On earth quake of 2005, I remember, we didn’t knew for 12 hours that we have lost Muzaffarabad! I remember Musharaf the chief of army staff standing at Margala towers and saying everything is under control. The best way to get out of current situation is to build dams and water reservoirs.. Kill everyone who is against building dams, without any question. This is vital for survival of our nation. Right now we have energy crisis, very soon we will face water shortage coz of Indian build and storing everything.

    • Pakistan is the only country I think where least numbers of accidents occur perhaps zero at zero rate. Pakistan scientists are far better than India, I could guarantee. God is the best protector!

    • bro there is also issue of city infact cities sink … (m not againsts but i just tell u the argue of them) …

    • Dear fahad.
      just tell me if the dam break due to an earthquake what will happen??
      it create VERY VERY HUGE disaster which is big than a NPP disaster.

      Pakistan has already one NPP (KANNUP-1) in karachi just near the K-2 and K-3. KANNUP-1 is working his operation safely in karachi.

  • Great article.You do know that Karachi already has a nuclear power plant (KANUPP-I)? that was inaugurated in 1972 and still works. The recent news is about creating a second power plant KANUPP-II.

  • I think that these nuclear reactors will help a lot, we have a few of them already, they are working as expected but i also agree to the concerns and the government simply must make sure that there is absolutely no threat to anything, man or animal, in air or water.

      • I believe he’s not exactly talking about the news per se. He’s talking about the misleading title of the post, on which I agree with him. The title is too ambiguous and non-descriptive of the content.

        • Seriously? The post is actually about the nuclear reactors being built in Pakistan and presents arguments from both sides. How distant is that from the choice of topic?
          I would have agreed if the body of the article had stuff about Barbie or Dora the Explorer.
          Funny how quick people are to criticize for the sake of slinging mud.

          • I’m just curious, what’s it like to be an uneducated and presumptuous idiot? The title doesn’t say anything about the reactors being BUILT, you moron. It could’ve easily been given to an article about a nuclear reactor disaster.

          • What else we think of those media debaters do.. sling the mud live on their channel and we watch it with full attention.. Grow up..!

          • My dear, it seems that there’s no difference between stupid and ambiguous with you. Let me explain it to you in terms that even my cat with her IQ of 40 can understand:

            An article with this title and “stuff about Barbie or Dora the Explorer” would be plain misleading and an outright lie. Which is why I didn’t say it’s MISLEADING I said it’s AMBIGUOUS.

            See as you don’t know the difference. Let me tell you the dictionary meaning of ambiguous:

            “Open to more than one interpretation; not having one obvious meaning.”

            The reason I said that is because this article could’ve been about any aspect of those nuclear reactors. Hell, it could’ve even been about an ongoing nuclear disaster going on right now (God forbid). No one is slinging mud here, I’m pointing out that a few more words such as “Karachi’s New Nuclear Reactors – Is Pakistan Ready For The Risks?” would’ve made this title infinitely more relevant. Don’t you think?

  • It will never be made like Kalabagh Dam. If our government were really interested to solve this problem, the problem would have solved.

  • Now we are talking about security here.. and the world is not secured, everyone has to die, whether by Earthquakes or by Accidents or by any means whatsoever. Are there not any deaths by disasters in countries where security is not tolerated at all..??? Blaming a disaster with a Nuclear Power Plant to the cause of death has no means when we being Muslims know that a time of death has reserved for all of us. We are in urgent need of electricity which is the basic necessity. Lets move forward by generating more power so that people could move forward, think broad, prosper more, implement greater security only when their basic necessities are fulfilled. Power is basic need nowadays, and how farther could you move with a complete blackout nearing on daily basis with such a rate of increased consumption. Offcourse dams are safest, but do we really have any time left to build those , are we sure that on completion they would be enough, are we the one in control of water currents in those rivers, is India controlling it..? Yes, we can build hydroelectric Dams but we first have to get rid of the disastrous power outage condition we are going through. Start with the name of Allah the protector of all the universe..!!!

    • agreed with you.
      people can find ” List of nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll ” on Wiki, there are the names of Soviet Union, Japan and United Kingdom which are far more developed and resourceful countries than Pakistan.

    • We may have URGENT need for electricity but that does not mean disregarding RISKS. Building close to Karachi = MAJOR RISK.

      • It is mentioned in the article that:
        “No development will be allowed in the vicinity of the plants”

        Why we are creating panic by the word RISK. You take risks and RISKS when you go out in this city with such an unstable law and order situation.

        We have to grow more, think broad, look for broader perspective from all different angles.

        Otherwise we duly welcome a stone age ahead of us..!

  • It’s good to have nuclear power plants not mere for electricity but also for other technology advancements in nuclear field. However these may be relocated to some other area for the sake for safety.

  • Fish this safety B.S.! Fish this NNPT B.S.!

    Pakistan has, can and will handle Nuclear production as it always has since the 90s. Tell me one incident of a Nuclear disaster? The whole process of building Power Plants will naturally be under Army which by the way are handling Pakistan’s Nuclear assets far better than those presiding over NNPT countries! As far that design not tested B.S. – was JF17-Thunder a previously tested endeavor? No! Still we Pakistanis worked on it and we made it with an iron fist! And it has been an unmatched success! Now Pakistan is even exporting JF17 to other countries. No one wants to see Pakistan rising from the energy crisis – why? Because light hogi to industry chaly gi, logon k businesses chalein gy, or economy behtar hona shuru hojay ga. And that doesn’t suit the agenda of NNPT countries as well as west-owned-tout-traitors within our lines!

    Does anyone even know how much Uranium (used in Nuclear Plants) is stolen from American Nuclear plants on a monthly basis? from Indian Nuclear plants?

    How many times such shitty little issues have risen from Pakistan’s Nuclear Programmes? How many times a Nuclear accident in this country? A theft? A compromise? A security leak??? Not One!

    Does anyone know how much Nuclear plants for electricity is India running currently?

    I completely and rationally reject this nonsense of safety B.S.!

    Safety has always been the number 1 priority here in Pakistan in terms of Nuclear Technology.

      • You think of a Nuclear Power Generation Plant as an Atomic bomb.. Open your mind.. The designers of these plants are not selling nuts..!

        Build one right next to my house, I am OK with that..!

        • No I am pretty sure Fukushima is not like an atom bomb at all. But do you want to live next to it?

          The difference between KANU and Fukushima is just… chance. If there have been no accidents, it’s not because accidents or problems are impossible with KANU or new designs. It’s just that we haven’t had accidents YET.

      • If you have the capacity/resources to do so then you are welcome. Otherwise feel free to think again on what I’m establishing.

        • in bhai sahab ko sirf doosray logo k comments may keeray nikalnay aatay hain, don’t take him seriously…

  • We should promote and back the government in all sort of decelopments. These plants must be built aand plzzzzzzz we cant bear the burdan of another issue like kala bagh dam plzzzzz

  • I am surprised firstly by the Genre of the topic and its relevancy of discussion on this forum, secondly I would certainly say, the author has serious lack of information over the topic. This is simply degrading the credibility of this forum as an IT related blog. Try to stay focus on the concerned areas or the areas where you have adequate knowledge.

    • It would be very helpful and informative for readers if you could go ahead and explain why you are surprised by the ‘genre’ of the topic and its ‘relevancy’.

      While you are at that, please do share why you believe the credibility of the forum is being harmed by a perfectly informative post such as this.

      Since you feel the knowledge presented here is inadequate, it’s only fair that you share your knowledge on the matter and let your fellow readers learn what they may have missed.

      I invite you to reconsider your misconception that features such as these don’t belong to this ‘IT-related’ blog. If you go through the posts on the ‘forum’ in greater detail, you’ll realize how inappropriate that comment is.

  • These concerns are irrelevant and are being used by the western lobby. Nuclear power stations operate in 31 countries including France (73.3%), Belgium (52.1%) Hungary (50.7%) and Slovakia (51.7%) use them as the primary source of electricity. PAEC has an enviable record of operation nuclear power plants for more than four decades without radioactivity releases that could be in any way be harmful to the environment, the general public, or even plant personnel. On the other hand nuclear energy offers no damage to environment as done by other fuel sources. The generation of electricity through nuclear energy reduces the amount of energy generated from fossil fuels (coal and oil). Less use of fossil fuels means lowering greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 and others).

    • You say: On the other hand nuclear energy offers no damage to environment as done by other fuel sources.

      Hello? What about SPENT FUEL RODS??!?!?!

  • so then japan have world record in disasters don’t they build the nuclear power plants you are getting it otherwise beg for world bank and IMF whom gives half and when they water dam start in construction they stopped the fund and mentioned it for agreement with indian if they agree then you will get fund same happen many times

  • Ltd feature videos

    Watch more at LTD