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Nuclear energy programme in Sri Lanka

Assisted by India and the IAEA, Sri Lanka is developing its Nuclear Energy Programme. Environmentalists complain about the programme and argue that Sri Lankans' renewable energy sources can meet energy requirements, if they are properly managed


After the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in February 2015, India and Sri Lanka signed a cooperation agreement for the use of nuclear energy. The agreement is meant to facilitate cooperation in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise, sharing of resources, capacity building and training of personnel in the uses of nuclear energy.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Nuclear energy programme in Sri Lanka
Country:Sri Lanka
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Nuclear power plants
Specific commodities:Thorium
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Assistance provided by the IAEA to Sri Lanka from January 2009 to July 2013 amounted to Euros 1.68 million. The maximum financial support went to the health sector. Other areas of assistance were Industrial sector, radiation safety and human resource development and general atomic energy development [8].

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Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationUnknown
Affected Population:unknown
Start of the conflict:2010
Relevant government actors:Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi 
President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena
Technology and Research Minister Champika Ranawaka
Minister of Power and Energy
Atomic Energy Board (AEB) of Sri Lanka
Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka
Secretary of the indian Department of Atomic Energy (Ratan Kumar Sinha)
Minister of Power and Energy of Sri Lanka (Patali Champika Ranawaka)
International and Finance InstitutionsInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Government of India from India
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Sri Lanka
Friends of the Earth International
Greens for Change
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactspotential hazards due to radioactive waste contamination
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Cooperation agreement between India and Sri Lanka to facilitate nuclear energy development, signed on February 2015.
Development of alternatives:EJOs argues that Sri Lanka's renewable energy sources - such as solar and wind - can meet energy requirements if they are properly managed.
Environmentalists require the government to grant adequate concessions and tax benefits to investors on renewable sources.
Immediately stop Sri Lanka Nuclear Energy Programme
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Nuclear Energy Programme is going forward
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority Act
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[8] Governement of Sri Lanka, International Atomic Energy Agency. PROGRAMME FRAMEWORK 2014 - 2018 (accessed 16/04/2015)
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Atomic Energy Board (AEB) of Sri Lanka web site
[click to view]

[1] Online article from DNA news (16/2/2015): India, Sri Lanka ink agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy, agriculture (accessed 15/04/2015)
[click to view]

[4] Online article from Bloomberg business web site (16/02/2015). India Signs Nuclear Energy Pact With Sri Lanka, Countering China’s Sway. By Natalie Obiko Pearson and Anusha Ondaatjie. (accessed 16/04/2015)
[click to view]

[6] Article from Hemantha Withanage's blog (03/10/2015). Don’t Nuke Sri Lanka Please! By Hemantha Withanage (accessed 15/04/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Online article on Lanka Businnes Online (10/2008). Sri Lanka and India have talks on Thorium-based nuclear energy: report. (accessed 16/04/2015)
[click to view]

[9] Online article on BBC News (26/09/2010). Environmental concern over Sri Lanka nuclear plans. By Saroj Pathirana (accessed 15/04(2015)
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[10] Online article from 'The Sunday Times' (22/02/2015). Are we going nuclear?. Editorial (accessed 15/05/2014)
[click to view]

[11] Online article from 'Businnes Standard' (21/03/2013). Environment activists from India, Lanka unite against Kudankulam. By Shine Jacob (accessed 16/04/2015)
[click to view]

[5] Online article from Sri Lanka Digest. Nuclear power: Sri Lanka can do without it. By Janaka Ratnasiri (accessed 15/04/2015)
[click to view]

[12] Online document By Friends of the Earth International (11/11/2012). 'Resolution in solidarity with the people fighting against the construction of the Kundankulam nuclear power plant in India and against nuclear power plants in other Asian countries'.
[click to view]

[3] Online article from (16/02/2015) India seals nuclear energy pact with Sri Lanka, hopes to push back Chinese influence. By KRISTA MAHR AND SANJEEV MIGLANI (accessed 16/04/2015)
[click to view]

[2] Online article from Word Nuclear association web site (03/2015): Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries (accessed 15/04/2015)
[click to view]

Other documents

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Sri Lanka's President Mithripala Sirisena (L) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) during Sirisena's ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi February 16th 2015
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Centre for Environmental Justice (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Paola Camisani (EJOLT team, Barcelona)
Last update13/07/2015
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