“At Kudankulam, third reactor construction can begin by year-end”

Special Correspondent

First two units at “advanced stage,” can be commissioned this year

Both sides willing to work jointly in building 4 more reactors there

NEW DELHI: India could start construction of the third reactor at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu by year-end provided India and Russia wrap up the signing of the techno-commercial agreements in the next couple of months.

Both sides are already collaborating in the construction of two reactors and have expressed their desire to work jointly in building four more at the same site.

While the first two units are of 1000 MWe capacity, the others could be of 1200 Mwe, Sudhindra Thakur, senior official of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India said here on Thursday.

He was participating in a videoconference on the Russian and Indian experience in ensuring nuclear safety.

However, sources ruled out construction of the seventh and eighth reactors at the same time because of space constraints at Kudankulam.

Safety norms

Safety norms do not permit construction of more than six reactors although both sides are collaborating in the project, with Indian scientists taking an active part in various processes including construction and erection of facilities. Officials said the first two units are at an “advanced stage” of completion and could be commissioned this year.

It is believed fuel has arrived in India although the officials declined to confirm that the first tranche of the 2,000 tonnes of uranium contracted for with Russia had been received.

At the videoconference, senior scientists highlighted the lessons learnt from the Chernobyl tragedy and the measures to be taken to enhance security and safety during the construction of new reactors.

They discussed how safety principles were being applied in Russia and India. Among the participants were Kurchatov Evgeny Velihov, President of the Russian Research Centre; Leonid Bolshov, Director-General of the Institute for Safe Development of Nuclear Energy of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and Ashok Chauhan, senior NPCIL official.

Corrections and Clarifications

The fifth paragraph of a report "'At Kudankulam, third reactor constructioncan begin by year-end'" (April 24, 2009) was "However, sources ruled outconstruction of the seventh and eighth reactors at the same time because ofspace constraints at Kudankulam." It should have been "at the same site".

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