In the last lap of its first approach to criticality, the first unit (1000 MWe) of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu is undergoing a battery of tests by engineers of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

R.K. Sinha, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, told The Hindu that the NPCIL engineers were busy, performing “high pressure and temperature tests.”

Additional tests

“Additional tests have been prescribed by the regulatory body, i.e., the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the NPCIL engineers would do them as well,” he said.

“Thereafter, the regulatory body will review the results of these tests and decide on giving clearance to the first approach to criticality. One more step is required [to be crossed] towards criticality,” said Mr. Sinha, who is also the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy.

The KKNPP, situated in Radhapuram taluk in Tirunelveli district, has two newly built reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 MWe. Equipment and components of the reactors, called VVER-1000, were imported from Russia and assembled on the premises by NPCIL.

Second reactor’s criticality

The second reactor is expected to reach criticality in about six to nine months after the first unit is started up. The reactors will use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as both coolant and moderator. Russia will supply the enriched uranium for the entire life-time of the reactors.

Out of the 2,000 MWe to be generated from the two reactors at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu’s share will be 925 MWe. Karnataka will receive 442 MWe, Kerala 266 MWe, Puducherry 67 MWe and the unallocated share is 300 MWe.

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