In the Kalpakkam area of Tamil Nadu province, India, the local fishing community is dealing with a very different threat than the one it faced with the 2005 tsunami. A nuclear power plant became a death trap during the tsunami, with several workers drowning within its walls. No one knows how many died for sure, as the government never released a number.
Today, some villages believe the nuclear plant is still connected with death and destruction. They say that people go fishing and suddenly die afterwards from a lack of blood circulation. Rates of cancer, birth defects, infertility, and autoimmune and neurological diseases have increased, affecting young and old alike.
Mission & Service partner the Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation works in the region to help affected families, often paying medical costs. For those families where the primary breadwinner has prematurely died or been incapacitated, the foundation helps with finding employment, school costs, and other day-to-day expenses.
The Department of Atomic Energy says that the rates of radiation are too low to cause a health effect. Local doctor, Dr. Pugazhendhi, who runs a local clinic with the foundation’s assistance, has seen an increase in illness and believes radiation plays a part in this increase.
The Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation trains the local community about its rights and how to organize to collectively and defend their rights to clean air, water, and land.
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