The Sindh High Court on Thursday blocked the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission from establishing two nuclear power plants on the outskirts of Karachi in violation of environmental laws.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a ceremony launching the construction of the atomic power plant at Paradise Beach.Hearing a petition filed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Dr. Pervez Hoodhboy, Dr. A. H. Nayyar and Arif Bilgrami, a two-member bench led by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar issued notices to the PAEC, the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority chairman, the Sindh Environment Protection Agency director general, the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency chairman and the Sindh Environmental and Alternative Energy Department to respond to the complaints by Nov. 11.
Sindh High CourtDuring proceedings on Thursday, the petitioners’ counsel submitted that the PAEC intended to build the K-2 and K-3 reactors using the ACP-1000 design, which has not been constructed or tested anywhere else. The 1,100MW power plants, which are to be built by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), have “unclear” safety precautions, according to the counsel, who added that any malfunction could prove disastrous for the 21 million estimated residents of Karachi.
Atomic Power Plant
The petitioners’ lawyer claimed that the nuclear disasters in Japan (2011) and Ukraine (1987) had raised concerns about the safety measures adopted in nuclear plants. He said reactors located so close to a major population hub like Karachi required planning for mass evacuation in case of a nuclear disaster. He told the judges that the city lacked the infrastructure for evacuations.
According to the lawyer, the nuclear project was granted an environmental impact assessment without fully complying with environment protection laws, adding that no public hearing had been organized to take all stakeholders’ concerns into consideration. The lawyer urged the judges to declare the project illegal until a public hearing could be organized to determine the suitability of the reactor location.