Task force to study purchase of reactors from South Korea

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S.K. Jain
S.K. Jain

T.S. Subramanian

It will look at the possibility of building APR 1000 in India

CHENNAI: A joint task force will be set up to explore the possibility of India buying nuclear power reactors from South Korea, according to S.K. Jain, chairman and managing director, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). It will consist of officials from the NPCIL and the South Korean energy major, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

The decision is consequent to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the NPCIL and KEPCO in Mumbai on August 27.

“As per the MoU, the two sides agreed to form a task force which will review the design of a South Korean reactor called APR 1000 and find out the possibility of building it in India,” Mr. Jain said. (APR stands for Advanced Pressurised Reactor of 1000 MWe capacity).

The MoU includes development of nuclear electricity projects, operation and maintenance of reactors, supply of nuclear fuel, manufacture and supply of nuclear equipment and joint feasibility study on licensing and constructing APR 1400 units in India. It was signed by S.A. Bhardwaj, Director (Technical), NPCIL, and Sung Min Cho, Director General, KEPCO.

Uranium supply

Asked whether South Korea would also supply fuel for the reactors, Mr. Jain said it did not have uranium resources of its own but it would have to supply fuel for the life-time of the reactors it would sell to India.

On September 1, the second unit of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS-2) at Rawatbhatta became the first pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) in the country to use imported natural uranium fuel consequent to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver permitting its members to engage in nuclear trade with India. RAPS-1 and 2, already under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, were using indigenous natural uranium fuel till now. The PHWRs use natural uranium as fuel, and heavy water as coolant and moderator.

“RAPS-2 is the first PHWR to use imported fuel under the safeguards domain. It will use natural uranium fuel from Russia and France and the fuel has already arrived. The imported fuel was fabricated in a stream at the Nuclear Fuel Complex at Hyderabad, and the stream is also under safeguards,” Mr. Jain said.

The 29-year-old RAPS-2, of 200 MWe capacity, was started up after undergoing en mass feeder replacement (EMFR). The feeder pipes, which supply heavy water to the reactor core, had reduced in thickness because of corrosion and they were replaced.

Mr. Jain said: “The EMFR was done with the highest degree of safety… This complex and technologically advanced project was entirely done with indigenously developed technology, tools and tackles. India is one of the few countries in the world to have mastered the management of ageing nuclear power plants.”

New reactors

RAPS-2 will reach its full power-level of 200 MWe in a few weeks.

The NPCIL was preparing to put two new reactors, RAPS-5 and 6, under IAEA safeguards as per the Separation Plan. The internal procedure would be completed shortly. “So the fuel for RAPS-5 and 6 will be available from the same imported route by October/November and we plan to commission them by November/December 2009,” Mr. Jain said.

Both the units will generate 220 MWe each.



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