Abdul Rehman goth is a centuries old fishing village just outside Karachi. Not much has changed here in Ahmad Baloch life until a nuclear power plant started being built nearby. “Now with the nuclear plants under construction near here, the marine security people do not allow us free mobility in the waters, what are we going to do?”
Fears about a terrorist attack on the nuclear power plants have lead to massive security around them…. leaving the fishermen locked out. “There is not enough fish recently. We’re just worry for our next generation.”
Families here use very little electricity, but elsewhere the country is starving for energy. Electricity shortfall means there are blackouts for up to 10 hours in the major cities.
Frustrations often spill out on to the streets.
The government believes nuclear is the answer. Azfar Minhaj is the project director of K1 and K2 nuclear plants. “No other renewable energy source is proven to provide electricity with 100% efficiency throughout the year.”
But many are worried a nuclear disaster, given Pakistanis security situation and poor health and safety standards.
At a gathering of activists in Karachi, one of Pakistan’s most celebrated nuclear scientist Dr Pervez Hoodboy is the center of attention. He’s now leading a campaign against nuclear power.
“Developed countries like Germany and Switzerland have decided to get rid of the nuclear plants but here Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh wants to develop more and more nuclear plants quickly. With nuclear plants you can never ever be 100% sure that an accident is not going to happen. We have a very clear example of Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.”
Nuclear power operators are trying to downplay these concerns. And say, with Chinese technical assistance, the plants are safe, says Minhaj.
“We will never release the water that cools the nuclear reactors outside from the plant, there are going to be so many barriers to ensure safety.”
Critics are not convinced. Environmentalist Ali Arsalan says the electricity that the country has at the moment is being poor managed.
“We have an amazing situation now, that on the national grid, at least 30 percent of power is lost because it travels over a thousand kilometer, distribution system is bad, now imagine 30 percent, if you could harvest this you don’t need to produce any more.”
For now the fisherman are not thinking about a nuclear disaster and the impact that could have on their fish.
Their major concern is that security is not allowing them to go out to sea.