In a major relief to authorities of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has given its nod for controlled fission process or “first approach to criticality” (FAC) for the first unit of the plant.
The FAC is an important step towards the beginning of power production. An AERB release said that while granting the clearance for the FAC, it was ensured that the Supreme Court directives of May 6 were fully complied with. The approval was given after an in-depth review of associated safety aspects.
Clearance for the FAC, however, does not mean the stage is set for the commissioning of the plant soon. Several low-power tests will have to be carried out to verify the conformance of the reactor’s characteristics to design objectives.
The AERB would review the results of the tests before giving clearance for the next stage of commissioning, which would entail a phased increase in the power level of the reactor. However, a senior official of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, which will operate the plant, declined to give any time frame for commissioning the plant.