Atomic Energy Regulatory Board's nod awaited: S.K. Jain
Expressing satisfaction over the progress in preparing the first reactor of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project for commissioning, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Chairman and Managing Director S.K. Jain has said the KKNPP is awaiting the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board's clearance to open the reactor pressure vessel for inspecting the internal components' performance and subsequent loading of enriched uranium fuel rods.
Dr. Jain was here along with a team of Russian specialists headed by Valery Limarenko, president of Atomstroyexports, the Russian firm constructing the reactors at the KKNPP, to ascertain the progress of work, which resumed on March 19, for ensuring the early commissioning of the first of the 2 X 1,000-MWe reactor.
After the successful completion of the ‘hot run,' the test reports were submitted to the AERB for review by a team of experts. Once they accepted the test results, clearance would be given for opening the reactor pressure vessel, which would also be submitted to the AERB for another round of review. The specialists' group in the AERB would carry out a detailed study of these inspection reports after which clearance for fuel loading would be given by the AERB.
Following this final clearance, enriched uranium fuel loading, the first step towards criticality of the plant, would be taken up. Since the preparation for commissioning the plant was progressing as planned, it was expected that fuel loading might be taken up by mid-June and criticality attained in the next few weeks.
“Since all test results are very encouraging and inspections conducted so far have shown that every component has performed really well, we expect the clearances in time and fuel loading can be expected by mid-June. Over 35 per cent of the components have been re-checked and the remaining will be re-checked in due course. We have to wait for the clearances as there is no place for any shortcut for achieving our goals,” Dr. Jain said.
On his meeting with the heads of 29 village panchayats and three town panchayats around the KKNPP on Thursday, Dr. Jain said that he was moved by the encouraging words from the rural local body heads and had assured them that the NPCIL would be a part of development activities to be carried out in this region by the State and the Union governments.
As regards conducting a drill before the commissioning of the plant, Dr. Jain said it would be held at the appropriate time after holding talks with State government officials.
Mr. Limarenko, while categorically rejecting reports that the post-Fukushima scenario had forced several countries to keep themselves away from nuclear energy programmes, said his company, which was involved in the construction of 20 nuclear reactors in Russia and China, was holding talks with Vietnam, Turkey and Bangladesh on the construction of nuclear reactors in those countries.
He reassured that the reactors under construction, and also those to come up on the KKNPP premises, would have several layers of the most modern safety features to ensure the safety and security of the workforce and people living around the plant.
Director (Finance), NPCIL, Preman Dinaraj, station director, KKNPP (Units 1 and 2) R.S. Sundar and project director (Units 3 and 4) K. Banerjee were present.