Moving ahead with its nuclear programme, India on Monday began construction of its 25th atomic power plant.
The first pour of concrete for the 700 MW indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR), the seventh nuclear plant at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS), took place in this bustling Rajasthan township, about 65 km from Kota.
The first pour of concrete ceremony, which signals the beginning of the construction of a nuclear plant, was attended by Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) CMD Shreyans Kumar Jain.
Mr. Banerjee gave the command to pour the concrete by pressing the button on the control panel of the concrete pressure pump. Soon after the M45 grade concrete began pouring in the foundation of what would be the emergency core cooling system of the new reactor building.
The concrete is being poured at the rate of 90 cubic metres per hour and at a controlled temperature of 19 degree Celsius. To monitor the temperature, ice is being mixed with the concrete.
The 700 MW PHWR, designed by NPCIL by scaling up its 540 MW PHWRs under operation at Tarapur since 2005, is expected to be completed in the next five years.
Mr. Banerjee said, “The 540 MW PHWR at Tarapur was built by NPCIL in a record time of four years and ten months. We will try to beat that record”.
RAPS already has six units of PHWRs, five of which are producing over 1180 MW, the largest from a single site.
Construction for the seventh unit began on Monday and excavation work is currently on for the eighth unit, also a 700 MW PHWR.
The NPCIL currently operates 20 nuclear power plants across six sites and has an installed capacity of 4780 MW.
The Centre had given a financial sanction of Rs 24,000 crore in October 2009 for building four units of 700 MW of PHWRs — two each at Kakrapar and Rawatbhata in Rajashtan.
Two 700 MW PHWRs each are expected to come up at Bargi in Madhya Pradesh and Fatehabad in Haryana.
The NPCIL is building two 1000 MW VVER type nuclear power plants at Kudankulam and two 700 MW PHWRs at Kakrapar in Gujarat. Unit 1 and 2 at Kudankulam are expected to be operational by August this year and May next year respectively.
Both the 700 MW units at Kakrapar are expected to start producing power by 2015 end.
Besides the 20 operating and five under-construction reactors, the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam is building a 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam.
With the progressive completion of the Kudankulam reactors and the four 700 MW PHWRs at Kakrapar and Rawatbhata, the installed nuclear power capacity of NPCIL is expected to reach 9580 MW by 2016.
Questions were raised on safety of operating nuclear power plants after the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan triggered by a tsunami after a nine magnitude earthquake.
The NPCIL conducted a thorough review of all the nuclear power plants across the country and found them to be safe. It is also incorporating additional safety measures at various plant sites following the Fukushima accident in March this year.