- Friday | 01 Jan, 1999
- A. H. Nayyar, Zia Mian
Zia Mian and A.H. Nayyar Monograph Series # 11 1999 Abstract The Chashma nuclear power plant in Pakistan is expected to begin producing power in March, 2000. Public information about the reactor is limited, but an analysis of available data suggests there may be grounds for concern about the safety of the reactor. Some of these concerns are outlined here and the effects of a severe reactor accident estimated. The first concern about Chashma is the location of the reactor. The reactor is sited in an area that studies have shown to be seismically active and possibly able to generate a magnitude 7.0 - 7.5 earthquake. The reactor's site on the banks of the Indus River may increase the risk of an accident in response to an earthquake because the water-rich sandy soil there may be susceptible to liquefaction; a process in which the ground behaves as if it were liquid. The second concern is the safety of the reactor design. Originally designed by the China National Nuclear Corporation as a replica of China's first indigenous reactor, Qinshan-1, the history of Chashma suggests that the design has been subject to repeated changes. Not all the suggestions made for improving the safety of the reactor appear to have been incorporated. The limited Chinese experience in reactor design and the changes that have been made may combine to make the behavior of the system as a whole less predictable and less reliable, and so less safe. The July 1998 accident at Qinshan-1 and China's subsequent resort to Western help to assess and repair the problem have exposed some aspects of the poor initial design. These limitations are also true for apply to Chashma, but Pakistan would not have access to western help to deal with them.