Expectations of first unit’s early commissioning high

There is some good news on the Kudankulam front. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has given its clearance for the repeat of the full systems tests at the first unit of the 1000 MW nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, raising expectations of its early commissioning.

AERB Chairman, S.S. Bajaj, told The Hindu on Friday, “We have given permission to repeat the hydro tests at Kudankulam unit I yesterday.”

He, however, declined to give a specific date for the completion of the test and the consequent commissioning of the plant. “It could take about two weeks for the repeat tests to be completed. We can take a decision on the next steps leading to commissioning only after it gets over.”

The plant was almost on the verge of being commissioned last month. But, the process got stopped after the authorities decided to do some maintenance work when some of the parameters were found to be not falling within the prescribed norms in toto.

Describing the pause as a minor issue, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, R.K. Sinha, had last week told a group of reporters that the authorities were keen to ensure that the plant worked strictly “by the book.”

Noting that in any system, there would be some deviations from the prescribed norms when it is first run and the deviations would be subsequently corrected when they are shut down for routine maintenance work, Dr. Sinha had said that in this case, however, the authorities decided to take extra care and ensure that all the parameters were strictly within the prescribed numbers.

Pointing out that the Kudankulam reactor was the first of its kind to be built in the country; he had said that the authorities felt that would be better if the plant adhered to the specifications in full.

The plant with two units of 1,000 MW each is being built in collaboration with Russia. The AERB had given permission to load fuel in the reactor in August last. The loading of 163 enriched uranium fuel bundles began about a month later and was completed in two weeks.

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