Sources denied rumours that there was an explosion in a pipe carrying steam

Three Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project employees and as many contract labourers sustained burns on Wednesday when they opened a valve fitted to the pipes carrying hot water as part of the ongoing maintenance during the shutdown of the first reactor.

The injured, identified as Paulraj, Rajan, Senthilkumar, Rajesh, Vinu and Mahesh, are under treatment and reportedly “out of danger”, the KKNPP sources said.

Sources in the KKNPP, who did not want to be identified, told The Hindu that operations in the first unit had been stopped for mandatory tests before increasing the generation to 1,000 MWe, the maximum capacity, after the reactor reached 900 MWe a few days ago. When the routine maintenance work was going on even as the plant was not functioning, a valve in the turbine building was checked by three contract workers in the presence of three KKNPP employees.

“As hot water stagnating in the valve chamber, which would be normally in the temperature of 65 to 70 degree Celsius, spilled suddenly from the valve as it was opened, all the six sustained small burns and were given first-aid on the spot. They were immediately taken to the KKNPP’s hospital at Anu Vijay Township (the residential complex for KKNPP employees at nearby Chettikulam) further treatment. They were then taken to a private hospital at Nagercoil. They are out of danger as the burns they have suffered are only smaller in nature,” said the sources.

The sources denied rumours that there was no explosion in any pipe carrying steam and in the valve connected to these pipes. “This is an ‘expected and listed event’ to caution the workers usually participating in the maintenance work of this nature. Since they have not taken mandatory precautionary measures while opening the valve, they have sustained burns,” the sources said.

Site Director, KKNPP, R.S. Sundar confirmed the industrial mishap, but said that the victims were out of danger as they were undergoing treatment at KKNPP’s hospital at Anu Vijay Township.