Special Correspondent

`Upgradation measures completed in record time'

KALPAKKAM: Innovative and indigenous life management and safety upgradation measures undertaken and completed successfully at the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) have given a new lease of life to its Unit-1.

Addressing presspersons here on Saturday, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Chairman and Managing Director, S.K. Jain, said that the Rs. 222-crore effort had made the unit as young as new, and that it would run well for another 30 years. It would require not less than Rs. 1,100 crore to establish a new unit of this magnitude, he said.

Four unique tasks - En Masse Coolant Channel Replacement (EMCCR), sparger installation, steam generator replacement and feeder replacement - were completed on the unit. Noting that the EMCCR replacement was necessitated by the degradation of a pressure tube, Mr. Jain said a similar exercise would be required at three more plants in the country. The Narora unit I has already been shut down, and it is being prepared for EMCCR replacement, he said.

That the skills to address these problems had been developed indigenously, despite technology transfer embargo, had made the achievement all the more significant, he said.

Mr. Jain also announced that the "heart conditioning" of the 540 MW Unit-3 of the Tarapore Atomic Power Plant had been completed, and that it would go critical and get linked to the Western Grid within two months. The Unit-4 at the plant was commissioned in March 2005.

Asked about the Indo-U.S. deliberations on the separation of civilian nuclear facilities, Mr. Jain said that putting the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor and also the Fast Breeder Test Reactor here, as also the future breeder reactors, under the international safeguards depended upon the Centre's decision.

He said the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (of which Mr. Jain is Chairman and Managing Director) had only a limited role in the matter. He, however, pointed out that already four plants in the country were under global safeguards regime as they had been built with foreign assistance. He said the nuclear material accounting was foolproof in the country, and that used nuclear material was properly accounted for to the last gram.

S. Krishnamurthy, Station Director, said feeder replacement was first of its kind in the world. "It was a challenging task, achieved in record time," he noted. V.A. Subramani, Chief Superintendent, was also present.