Continuing inability to commission plant shows serious problems

The Supreme Court has been moved to direct the Centre not to commission the Kudankulam nuclear plant or bring reactors to initial criticality until after it has comprehensively examined the issue of sub-standard equipment and its impact on reactor and public safety, with the involvement of independent experts.

G. Sundarrajan filed this application on Tuesday through advocate Prashant Bhushan in the main case, in which a Bench of Justices K. S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra had reserved judgment in December 2012. He said that after the completion of hearings in December 2012, there were revelations, putting a question mark on the safety of the plant.

The issue concerned use of sub-standard equipment imported by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. Going by its continued inability to start up KKNP-1, “it is very obvious that the Indo-Russian commissioning team at Kudankulam is facing some serious problems that it ever anticipated,” the application said.

“The first of the two 1000-MWe VVER nuclear reactors, under commissioning and testing, is supplied by the Russian Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, through its subsidiary, Atomstroyexport. Crucial materials and reactor parts have been exported to Kudankulam by the Russian government-owned Machine-Building Plant ZiO-Podolsk, which is another Rosatom subsidiary. Since the Russian security agencies themselves are convinced that ZiO-Podolsk had all along purchased poor grade, low-priced steels and other materials and passed them off in their documents as high-grade, high-priced materials and pocketed the difference in procurement and billing prices as earnings, all ZiO-Podolsk supplies to the Kudankulam plant have to be viewed with great suspicion...”

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