The government has finalised the much-awaited rules of implementation of the nuclear liability law, a move that could pave way for expansion of the atomic power sector by procuring equipment from foreign suppliers.
“A PMO committee has approved the rules of implementation of the civil nuclear liability law. We will notify the rules within month,” V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the PMO told reporters in New Delhi.
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage law, passed by Parliament last year, allows the operator of a nuclear plant to seek damages from the supplier in case the nuclear incident occurs due to supply of equipment with latent and patent defects or sub-standard services.
The suppliers’ liability aspect is built into the Indian law through the operator’s “right of recourse” incorporated in Article 17 (a, b and c), which has not been favourably accepted by a section of equipment suppliers and analysts.
“Sooner the better,” said Arthur de Montalembert, chairman and managing director of Areva India in reply to a question about when he expected the notification of the rules.
Areva, together with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, is building two 1,650 MW nuclear power reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
Areva had signed the early works contract with NPCIL last year for the Jaitapur project and was awaiting the notification of rules of implementation of the liability law.
Once the rules are notified, foreign suppliers like Areva can go ahead and sign the commercial contract with NPCIL for the Jaitapur project.
Mr. Montalembert said Areva was looking forward to begin work on the Jaitapur project early next year and commission the first 1,650 MW nuclear power reactor by 2019.
The second reactor may be commissioned within an year of operationalising the first one.
India has plans to build six 1,650 MW EPR nuclear power units at Jaitapur making it the largest site for atomic power generation in the country.
The European Pressurised Water Reactor that Areva is setting up at Jaitapur has a life of 60 years and agreement for fuel supply would be signed for 20 years and renewed later considering the cost of uranium.
With concerns over nuclear safety in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident, Areva has reassessed the conditions under which the EPR reactor would operate in case of earthquakes, tsunamis, explosions and lack of cooling facilities.
“These analyses have re-confirmed the robustness of the design of the EPR reactor. EPR would have survived a Fukushima-type accident,” Bertrand Barre, scientific advisor to the Areva chairman told a select group of reporters.
Besides Areva, Russian company Rosatom, U.S. companies GE Hitachi and Westinghouse have been allotted sites for setting up nuclear power plants in the country as part of India’s expansion plans for the sector.