Pollution board gives consent to Kudankulam N-plant

Chennai, June 26 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has given its consent to operate the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) subject to a rider, said senior officials.

“The TNPCB has given us its consent to operate the first unit of KNPP. It is called consent to operate licence and has to be renewed every year,” a senior official at the Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) that owns the project told IANS.

Confirming that, a TNPCB official told IANS: “We issued the consent order Monday. We have asked KNPP to connect their computer systems monitoring the ambient and the plant effluent temperature with our network.”

The official this would enable the pollution control board to monitor the ambient and effluent temperature.

The TNPCB approval assumes significance now.

The Supreme Court, while giving its green signal for KNPP in May, directed that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the ministry of environment and forests, NPCIL and TNPCB to oversee each and every aspect of the project including safety of the plant, impact on environment, quality of components and systems in the plant before its commissioning.

“Our focus will be on the environment angle, whether the KNPP meets our stipulations,” the TNPCB official added.

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

The NPCIL official said the first 1,000 MW unit at KNPP was ready for commissioning and there were no serious problems relating to equipment or the cabling.

On the charges of anti-KNPP activists that the reactor containment building was broke open to lay down the cables, the NPCIL official said: “Various pipes, cables will go into the reactor buildings from outside. The integrity of the building was tested and has been qualified.”

He claimed that the KNPP had completed all the AERB stipulations and there was nothing to be complied with as of now.

The NPCIL recently shifted the commissioning of KNPP’s first unit to July instead of end-June without giving any reasons.

Asked why the plant was not up and running if everything was fine, the NPCIL official said: “The Supreme Court has laid down about 15 conditions before commissioning the plant. Perhaps steps are being undertaken towards that.”

Anti-KNPP activists had said that complying with the Supreme Court directions will take quite sometime for NPCIL.

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

Fearing for their safety in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima in Japan in 2011, villagers in the vicinity of the Kudankulam plant, under the banner of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), have been opposing the project.

The project, however, got delayed mainly due to non-sequential supplies of components from Russian vendors.

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