SHC extends interim order till Dec 22 barring PAEC from work on 2 n-power plants

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday extended till December 22 its interim order barring Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) from carrying out work on two nuclear power plants in Karachi without adhering to the environmental laws.

Headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, a division bench was hearing a petition filed by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Dr Pervaiz Amirali Hoodbhoy and others, who had approached the court challenging Sepa’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) report that accorded its approval to establishment of two nuclear power plants in Karachi.

The court put off the hearing when PAEC counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan concluded his arguments in the case. The court asked the counsel for petitioners to forward his arguments at next hearing.

Anwar Mansoor Khan submitted that PAEC was exempted from having public hearing regarding suitability of the site for the nuclear plants in Karachi under section 12(3) of the EPA 1997. He said the site selected for the construction of twin nuclear power plants was in close proximity to existing nuclear power plant, adding no new area was selected for these plants.

He said some other countries were using ACP-1000 nuclear reactors and generating the electricity. He told the judges that the project will generate electricity which will be provide electricity to people in Karachi on priority basis.

He submitted that PAEC had could not place on record the certain facts due the sensitivity of the project and many matters were not being made public by the government due to strategic reasons.

He said the work on the nuclear power plants was commenced after adhering to all technical and legal prerequisites. He pleaded to the court to vacate its stay order on construction of the power plants as it was causing huge financial loss.

Earlier, counsel for the petitioners had submitted that the twin nuclear reactors will be based on a design known as the ACP-1000. He said these types of reactors are not even operating in China as they only exist on the paper and in computer. This type of rectors will be used for the first time in Karachi.

He said that the safety precautions, which are required to be adopted by authorities, are still unclear and uncertain, posing serious threat to health and life of the people of the city.

Counsel submitted that PAEC had approached the Sepa for its approval on the project. Subsequently it issued environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on the project while approving it. He argued that EIA report was issued without complying with provisions of related environment laws as no public hearing was held regarding suitability of the site for the nuclear plants in Karachi.

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