Nod means approval for every component of the 1,000 MW-reactor supplied by Russia
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has granted permission to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) to run its first reactor at 50 per cent (500 MW) capacity .
The permission, given around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, has triggered jubilation among KKNPP officials, as it means approval for ‘textbook functioning’ of every component of the 1,000 MW-reactor supplied by Russia.
With this clearance, KKNPP’s first reactor, as recently announced by site director R.S. Sundar, is likely to generate 400 MW before August-end and the reactor is expected to attain its full capacity of 1,000 MW by November-end after getting mandatory clearances from the AERB.
“The AERB clearance we got on the eve of Independence Day gives us immense satisfaction,” Mr. Sundar said.
The AERB had earlier granted clearance for First Approach to Criticality (FAC) and Low Power Physics Experiments (LPPE) for Unit I of KKNPP with certain stipulations. AERB Observers Team (AOT) stationed at the site reviewed the status of compliance with various stipulations and found them acceptable.
As part of first approach to criticality, withdrawal of control rods started on July 11at 11.49 p.m. and boron dilution at 4.50 a.m. the next day. Subsequently, the first criticality of Unit 1 was achieved at 11.05 p.m. on July 13.
The ACPSR (Advisory Committee for Project Safety Review), in its meeting held on the next day, reviewed the KKNPP’s request for taking up LPPE and related submission along with the report of the observers’ team.
Based on the review, ACPSR granted concurrence for conduct of LPPE as per approved procedure and it was completed on July 26.
The AOT observed these experiments and checked compliance test results related to the experiment that were submitted by the KKNPP. This submission along with AOT reports were reviewed by AERB experts.
After successfully clearing the hurdles, the KKNPP submitted an application on July 30 for raising reactor power up to 50 per cent and synchronisation of generator.
This application along with review reports were discussed at ACPSR meeting. Based on the detailed review, ACPSR submitted its report to the Committee for Reviewing Security Aspects of Nuclear Facilities (CRSANF), which also reviewed the relevant nuclear security aspects of KKNPP’s first unit. Subsequently, the AERB granted its nod.
In a statement, Chairman and Managing Director, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, S.S. Bajaj said clearance for raising reactor power up to 50 per cent and synchronisation of generator of KKNPP’s first reactor at appropriate power level had been granted, subject to compliance with various stipulations. The clearance is valid up to January 31, 2014.
After completion of this stage, application for the next stage along with detailed report of results and observations of various tests conducted during this stage would be submitted. Raising the reactor power further would taken up only after satisfactory review by ACPSR and clearance by AERB, Mr. Bajaj said.