R.S. Sundar, site director of the project, said all parameters were as per expectations.

India’s 21st nuclear reactor at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu is functioning well after it began nuclear fission process for the first time Saturday night, a senior official said on Sunday.

“Everything is progressing in a normal manner. The reactor is functioning well as per expectations,” R.S. Sundar, site director of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP), told IANS.

“If everything goes well, we will be able to connect the plant to the southern grid in 30-45 days,” he added.

The first unit at KNPP attained criticality at 11.05 p.m. on Saturday. All its parameters remained normal.

Mr. Sundar said sustained nuclear reaction had been achieved and all parameters were as per expectations. “After a long time, the mood here is good,” he said.

Top officials of the Indian nuclear establishment, including R.K. Sinha, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and secretary of the department of atomic energy (DAE), and K.C. Purohit, chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corp of India (NPCIL), were at Kudankulam to see the first of the two Russian-made units attain criticality in a smooth manner.

India’s atomic power plant operator, NPCIL, is setting up two 1,000 MW reactors with Russian technology and equipment at Kudankulam.

The over Rs.17,000 crore project, which came up in the face of intense protests in nearby villages who feared for their safety, began generating heat and steam from the 163 uranium fuel bundles loaded in the reactor.

The reactor was loaded with fuel assemblies containing about 80 tonnes of uranium oxide.

On July 11 night, armed with the AERB’s clearance, the KNPP started its journey towards criticality.

According to officials, several low power tests will be carried out in order to verify the conformance of the reactor characteristics to design objectives.

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