Keen on avoiding community opposition of the kind seen for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) will launch a sensitisation initiative ahead of starting work on two more 500 MW reactors in Kalpakkam, IGCAR Director S. C. Chetal said on Wednesday.

Addressing the media on the sidelines of the three-day national symposium on radiation physics, hosted by the Indian Society for Radiation Physics (ISRP), Mr. Chetal said the series of public hearings would seek to address the often unfounded radiation-related fears in the minds of the local population before proceeding with the new fast-breeder reactors.

“We are ready with scientific data to dispel whatever apprehensions the community is likely to harbour about nuclear power installations that are essential for the country to attain energy security,” he said.

Without going into the specifics, Mr. Chetal said the new indigenously-developed FBRs would incorporate several improvements on the design, fuel-stage and safety fronts. It would also have clear-cut protocols for safe handling of nuclear waste. He pointed out that while the Madras Atomic Power Station had separate freshwater chambers to store spent fuel, the PFBR had been designed to reprocess part of the spent fuel.

Prabhat Kumar, Chairman and Managing Director of BHAVINI, which is building the fast-breeder reactor assemblies, said the environmental clearance for the two new reactors was expected in about three months.

The IGCAR also expects the construction of its 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor to be completed shortly. “The PFBR is the advanced stage of completion, only after which we will move towards two more 500 MW reactors,” Mr. Chetal said.

In reply to a question, Mr. Chetal said several additional safety upgrades had been built into the PFBR following a post-Fukushima review, even though the two nuclear stations were not directly comparable. While the PFBR was insulated against tsunami waves rising up to a height of 9.7 m, other improvements, especially in checking water ingress into the critical systems, had also been incorporated, he said.

A.R. Sundararajan, former Director, Safety Research Institute, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, was presented the Dr. A. K. Ganguly memorial oration award.