The Supreme Court judgment on Monday dismissing petitions against commissioning of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) “is a shot in the arm” for the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), says R.K. Sinha, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission.
“It is indeed a great relief for all of us in the DAE because it has given us the benefit of the decision of the Supreme Court and it will help us in enhancing the public confidence in nuclear power,” said Mr. Sinha, who is also DAE Secretary. He was hopeful the verdict would remove apprehension in the minds of a section of the public on nuclear energy.
“The DAE will, of course, continue to step up its public outreach activities to ensure that the benefits of nuclear energy and the DAE’s contribution in all areas relevant to national growth are brought to the attention of the public,” Mr. Sinha added.
Informed DAE and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) officials indicated that the first unit (1,000 MWe) of the KKNPP was all set to be started up any day after May 15.
“NPCIL engineers completed all the tests this morning” on the first unit, a top DAE official said on Sunday. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had stipulated that the NPCIL perform certain additional tests on the reactor and the tests were completed on Sunday. Kudankulam engineers met the AERB officials later in the day on Sunday in Mumbai and presented reports to the AERB on completion of the tests.
“The AERB will soon take a view on the matter,” said a top DAE official. The NPCIL engineers will meet the AERB officials again on Wednesday or Thursday, and the AERB may then give clearance for the first unit at Kudankulam to reach criticality.
Two Russian reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 MWe, have been built at Kudankulam, Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. While Russia has supplied all equipment and components of the two reactors, it is the NPCIL which has built them. The reactors will use enriched uranium as fuel, and light water as both coolant and moderator. The second unit will be commissioned in 2014.