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Fuel loading begins at Unit II of Kudankulam nuclear plant

A view of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. Photo: N. Rajesh

A view of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. Photo: N. Rajesh  

Power generation in the second reactor of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project is likely to commence before the first week of June as loading of enriched uranium fuel in the reactor began on Wednesday night.

Sources in the KKNPP told The Hindu that robotic loading of 163 enriched uranium fuel assemblies, each measuring about 4.57 meters and weighing about 705 Kg, began on Wednesday and the exercise was likely to be completed in 10 days.

‘Hot run’

“If it is completed as planned, the reactor will be ready for criticality, which will be taken up after getting mandatory nod from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board,” the sources said.

After preparing the second 1,000-MWE VVER reactor, being built with Russian assistance, for the ‘hot run’, the KKNPP started the exercise last year. During this test, the second reactor, its associated closed primary coolant pipelines, secondary coolant circuits, and the concrete reactor containment building demonstrated the strength and integrity prior to reactor start-up.

The reactor pressure vessel, the main coolant pipelines and every part of the reactor were tested during the ‘hot run’ by sophisticated robotic systems to ascertain whether these could withstand extreme factors as per the design specifications.

After an analysis by the Russian and KKNPP experts and the representatives of AERB at the KKNPP complex, the data obtained during the ‘hot run’ and subsequent inspections were forwarded to the AERB for its final nod for removing the dummy fuel assemblies and loading the 163 uranium fuel assemblies.

Since the experts were satisfied with the hot run data, the dummy fuel assemblies were removed and the AERB gave permission for actual fuel loading.

Safeguards

Officials added that this was the first nuclear power plant in the world where the post-Fukushima safety enhancement requirements had been implemented and were being operated successfully.

Russia is building the KKNPP under a 1988 intergovernmental agreement. Unit 1 of KKNPP, India’s most powerful nuclear reactor till date, was commissioned in autumn 2013 and was restarted after a scheduled preventive maintenance on June 23, 2015. India and Russia had agreed to set up six VVER-1000 type reactors of 1000MW each at Kudunkulam to be supplied by Rosatom State Corporation of Russia.

Russians have emphasised that theirs is the only active civil nuclear cooperation as nuclear cooperation with the U.S. and France has been repeatedly delayed.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 6:10:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/fuel-loading-begins-at-unit-ii-of-kudankulam-nuclear-plant/article8592003.ece

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