NPCIL has made modifications post-Fukushima, says top official

The Indian nuclear power establishment has over 345 reactor years of accident-free operation and it has fully geared itself up to meet any contingency likely to be caused by factors other than the design basics.

Post-Fukushima, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has taken a re-look at the safety aspect of nuclear reactors and made some modifications in them to avert possible disasters.

All nuclear reactors are since being fitted with passive re-combiners that prevent explosions involving hydrogen by converting it into water and passive decay heat removers for containing radiation in the event of a meltdown. These measures are bound to further improve the safety record of Indian nuclear reactors, G. Nageswara Rao, Director (Operations) of NPCIL has said. Delivering the keynote address at a seminar on ‘Energy needs – latest challenges’ at Chalapathi Institute of Engineering & Technology (CIET) at Lam near here on Saturday, Mr. Nageswara Rao said lessons learnt from the Fukushima disaster were being incorporated in the management of nuclear reactors, though there was not a single accident in a long time.

Incidents beyond the scope of reactor designs have also to be factored in and that is being done in a comprehensive manner under the supervision of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). Besides, NPCIL has enlisted the cooperation of the World Association of Nuclear Operators for enhancing the safety and reliability of nuclear reactors in the country.

Clean, sustainable option

Mr. Nageswara Rao said India had clean, sustainable energy option in nuclear power, whose current share in the country’s energy requirement was three per cent. It was being increased to more than five per cent in phases in tune with the government’s Integrated Energy Policy (IEP) that covered other sources of energy (oil & gas, thermal, hydro, and renewable).

With the demand for energy going up at a blistering pace, the government has eyed nuclear power capacity of 63,000 MW by the year 2032. The existing 20 nuclear reactors are generating 4,780 MW and seven more are under construction. The IEP projected that India needs 7.78 lakh MW of electricity by 2032 and other studies pegged that at a whopping 13 lakh MW by 2050. The safety, sustainability, and scalability of nuclear power make it the best option for augmenting the available capacities. The nuclear power plant proposed to be built at Kovvada in Srikakulam district is at the land acquisition stage and awaiting clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The NPCIL will be able to get this plant commissioned in about 50 months from the date of ‘pour of concrete’ starting with 2 units of 1,200 MW each. Chalapathi Educational Institutions chairman Y.V. Anjaneyulu, CIET principal P. Suresh Babu, and Head of EEE Department P. Gokul Krishna were present.

  • All nuclear reactors are being fitted with passive re-combiners and passive decay heat removers

  • Incidents beyond the scope of reactor designs are also being considered, he says