There was no major issue behind the delay in the commissioning of the 2000 MW nuclear power plant at Kudankulam, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission R.K. Sinha told a group of reporters here.
Dr. Sinha said that since it was the first reactor of its kind to be constructed in India, the authorities wanted the systems worked “exactly textbook like” before the commissioning of the plant. This was the main reason for the delay.
[During the pre-commissioning tests in December last, the authorities found that some parameters such as flow, pressure and temperature were not falling strictly within the prescribed norms].
Dr. Sinha noted that in any system there would be some deviation from the prescribed norms when it was first run, and the deviations would be subsequently corrected when the reactor was shut down for routine maintenance work. In this case, however, the authorities decided to take extra care and ensure that all the parameters were strictly within the prescribed norms. “It is more rigorous than what we would normally do.”
Consequently, he said, the engineers have opened up some components for maintenance. It was taking “a little more time than what was expected.”
The reactor was made to go cold and drained of water for this work. “They will go hot to test it once again. This exercise will go on till they are satisfied. It is a matter of some weeks.”
Declining to give any specific date for completion of the work, he pointed out that experts from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board were keeping a close watch and they would decide what to do next.
The technology behind the reactor was a proven concept and was in construction since the early 1990s, particularly in the east European countries.
“There is nothing that is totally unique to the Indian system. They have been tested and proven elsewhere… May be the second reactor will not take this much time… This time they don’t want to take any chance.”
Asked about the proposed nuclear power plant at Jaitapur, Dr. Sinha expressed the hope that a commercial agreement with French power major Areva would be signed during the visit of French President Francois Hollande next month.
“We have set our objective of coming to a point of convergence on difference issues [relating to the project] before the visit of the French President… There have been plenty of discussions already between a NPCIL team and the corresponding partners on the French side, mainly around the techno-commercial offer and there seems to be a reasonable hope of converging.”
Asked about the issue of liability and the related rules, he said it was one of the points the French side had decided to keep aside for the time being.
“My perception is that on a fuller understanding of the Act perhaps they may come around.”
He also noted that signing of the pact with Areva was “one of the drivers of the [French President’s] visit.”