Tamil Nadu

Spent fuel will be stored at KKNPP site itself: NPCIL

Kudankulam: File picture of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) whose second unit attained criticality in Tirunelveli on Sunday night . PTI Photo / FILE(PTI7_11_2016_000224A)   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) plans to hold the spent nuclear fuel from the two units at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) at the site itself till the ‘away from reactor’ (AFR) is ready.

According to a status report submitted by the NPCIL to the AERB last December, the revised schedule for the completion of construction of the AFR is April 2022.

In the report, the NPCIL said the spent fuel assemblies (FA) would have at least five years of cooling in the fuel pool prior to the transfer from the pool to outside the reactor.

Considering that the transfer of the first batch of FAs from the reactor core to fuel pool was completed in September 2015, the transfer of FA to AFR could be done only after September 2020, according to the report accessed by The Hindu.

According to the report, the total capacity of the fuel pool is 565 cells for spent fuel assembly and 64 cells for sealed cans for storing defective fuel assemblies.

“This storage capacity of spent fuel pool is sufficient for the storage space (of) spent nuclear fuel generated up to eight years of reactor operation and one complete core unloading. After eight years of reactor operation, spent fuel from the fuel pool will be removed and stored at the AFR facility to create storage space for spent fuel generated during further operation of the reactor,” the report said.

As per the report, the AFR will be needed in operational status at the end of the eighth operational year of Unit-1, which is before August 2023.

“Unit 1 has undergone only two refuelling outages. Hence, only around 100 fuel assembly is stored in Unit 1 separately. Refuelling of Unit 2 was done only last month. Only 54 fuel assembly is stored in Unit 2,” R.S. Sundar, executive director, Light Water Reactors, NPCIL told The Hindu.

Mr. Sundar said the KKNPP has enough capacity to store the spent fuel assemblies “for another few years and for Unit-2 around 6 years”. “Also fuel assembly after discharge to fuel storage pool needs at least five years of cooling, before transfer to AFR. Hence, no issues,” he said.

NGO opposes move

R. Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal, an environmental group that has filed a petition against NPCIL seeking that the two units be shut down till the AFR is ready, said, “We don’t want the nuclear waste to be kept in a hugely populated area. We urge all political parties to impress upon the NPCIL against storing nuclear waste inside the complex.”

The AFR was supposed to be ready by July 2018, as per the Supreme Court directive in 2013. But the NPCIL has sought more time from the Supreme Court for getting the AFR ready, citing that it had “no previous experience with long-term storage requirements of high burn-up, Russian-type PWR fuel.”

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 10:13:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/spent-fuel-will-be-stored-at-kknpp-site-itself-npcil/article23796243.ece

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