Four faulty valves replaced in Kudankulam, says AERB

Chennai, April 19 (IANS) India’s atomic energy regulator Friday said four defective valves were replaced at the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) which is undergoing pre-commissioning tests.

“During testing of thousands of valves installed in the plant, the performances of four valves of a particular type were found deficient. As corrective measures, the valve components are being replaced by NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd) and their performance is further being subjected to regulatory review,” said R. Bhattacharya, secretary at Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) in a statement Friday.

According to him, clearance for the plant will be granted by the AERB only after a satisfactory review.

However the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) protesting against the plant termed AERB’s statement as a “sarkari (government) reply” and asked how AERB gave the permission to load the fuel when the values were malfunctioning and whether the two hot runs of the plant were a complete failure.

NPCIL, India’s atomic power plant operator, is setting up the project in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, around 650 km from here, with two Russian-made VVER 1,000-MW each reactors.

KNPP is an outcome of the inter-governmental agreement between India and erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, construction only began in 2001.

The PMANE has complained to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, April 17 that KNPP has been constructed with substandard equipment and parts supplied by a Russian company.

The PMANE has also charged the Indian atomic establishment had made changes in the core of the KNPP reactor.

“After fiddling with the original design of the KKNPP reactors, the Indian authorities went back and did an unauthorized ‘refit’ without revealing the details to anyone. All these things point out the inherent deficiencies of the Russian reactors, their vulnerability due to all the fiddling, and their untrustworthiness after the refit.

“Since this matter has to do with the lives and sustenance of millions and millions of people, all the relevant details must be made public,” it demanded.

Reacting to AERB’s statement, PMANE termed it as “an irresponsible and disingenuous explanation to a very complex and dangerous problem..”

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