Kudankulam N-plant almost ready for starting: AERB

Chennai, May 7 (IANS) The first unit of the 1,000 MW Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP), set up by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), is almost ready for beginning the fission process, said a top official of the country’s atomic regulator.

“As of now, the test reports and the results submitted by NPCIL relating to the first unit of KNPP are satisfactory. A team of experts will be going to KNPP Monday. If all things go well, it will be in matter days we will issue the sanction for the reactor beginning the fission process,” Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) chairman S.S.Bajaj told IANS.

According to him, the unit will be given five-year operational licence. The licence period may be restricted, if needed, based on the plant’s performance parameters, Bajaj added.

Queried about the manner of complying with the 15 directions given by the apex court Monday when it gave its nod for the plant, Bajaj said: “We have an advisory committee. The Supreme Court’s directions have been given to it. It will decide whether any new committee has to be set up or the existing set-up is sufficient to comply with the apex court orders.”

The court had directed that KNPP should not be made operational unless the AERB, NPCIL and the department of atomic energy accord final clearance for commissioning the plant, ensuring the quality of various components and systems because their reliability is of vital importance.

The court also directed AERB, NPCIL, the central environment and the forests ministry and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to oversee each and every aspect of the project, including safety of the plant, impact on environment, quality of various components and systems in the plant before its commissioning.

A report to that effect should be filed before the court before commissioning of the plant, the court said.

According to Bajaj, the AERB’s clearance process has in-built mechanism to check the quality of the components and systems.

He said the test reports submitted by NPCIL about KNPP will show whether the performance of the equipments are as per design specifications or they vary.

Bajaj said if the test results are at variance with those of the design specifications, then corrective actions have to be taken by NPCIL.

He said AERB has an elaborate code to check the quality of the components and system and NPCIL’s norms too have to be in line with it.

However, activists opposing the KNPP questioned this.

“The NPCIL is the purchaser of the equipments and there will be a conflict of interest if it has to certify the component quality,” G.Sundarrajan, who had filed the case against KNPP, told IANS.

NPCIL officials were not available for comments when contacted by IANS.

The NPCIL is setting up the project in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district around 650 km from Chennai, with two Russian-made reactors of generating capacity 1,000-MW each.

Fearing for their safety in the wake of nuclear plant accident in Fukushima in Japan, villagers in the vicinity under the banner of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) are opposing the project for the past 631 days.

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

The project majorly suffered delays due non-sequential supplies of components from Russian vendors.

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