“No nation can bypass liability clause in the event of mishap”

The first reactor of Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project is expected to go critical by the year-end, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Srikumar Banerjee said on Friday.

Addressing reporters after launching the latest High Performance Computation (HPC) cluster ‘Annapurna' at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), he said the second reactor unit was on track to attain criticality about eight months after that.

The AEC Chairman said there was no undue delay in commissioning the Koodankulam plant, which had initially been hit by problems in getting fuel supplies. Construction work on the second reactor was nearing completion and “we're expecting to begin fuel loading soon.”

According to Mr. Banerjee, indigenous uranium production in the country was expected to increase and this would help the AEC achieve higher capacity utilisation in plants and add more reactors.

A positive development was the estimation of uranium deposits in Tummalapalle, Andhra Pradesh, that would provide an alternative to sourcing from Jharkhand, he said. The AEC's Atomic Minerals Directorate had revised its initial estimate of 15,000 tonnes of uranium deposits in Tummalapalle to about 45,000 tonnes now. The Tummalapalle mine, the first in the country to adopt alkali leaching processing in place of the conventional acid leaching method, will go on stream in 18 to 20 months, he said.

On the reservations expressed by some countries on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, 2010, Mr. Banerjee said no nation could bypass the liability clause in the event of a mishap.

“How can they say no? We are not saying something which is totally out of the way. This is exactly the manner in which liability bills are made in other countries,” Mr. Banerjee said. Noting that there were no liability clauses earlier, Mr. Banerjee said the basic objective of the Nuclear Liability Bill was to ensure “prompt and absolute responsibility,” and provide a scope for payment of compensation.

Earlier, Mr. Banerjee lauded the efforts of scientists in putting together ‘Annapurna,' the new wonder in the IMSc's high performance super computer legacy that has produced ‘Kabru,' ‘Vindhya' and ‘Aravalli' clusters.

‘Annapurna' is a factory-integrated cluster in the non-commercial domain with 1.5 Tera Bytes memory and 30 TB storage stack. Its peak speed of 12 Tera Flops (TF) makes it the seventh fastest HPC machine in the country. Among broad-based scientific institutions, the ‘Annapurna' cluster is the third fastest entity.


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