Power unit in Tarapur to be ready by December-end

CHENNAI, NOV. 29. The fourth nuclear power unit in Tarapur, Maharashtra will start functioning by the end of December. Ahead of this the emergency core cooling was done on November 26 and the hot commissioning of its systems on October 22. Tarapur-4's twin-reactor is Tarapur-3. The two have a capacity of 540 MWe each and are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR). They will use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as both moderator and coolant. Tarapur-4 is being built ahead of Tarapur-3.

R. C. Rawal, Principal Project Director, Tarapur Atomic Power Project-3 and Project-4 said the electricity generated from the two reactors would be sold to state electricity boards between Rs. 2.70 and Rs. 2.80 a unit. The States to benefit are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa, and the Union Territories of Daman, Diu and Nagar Haveli.

While Maharashtra will receive 50 per cent of the total electricity generated by Tarapur-3 and 4, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh will receive 18 per cent each, and Goa, Daman, Diu and Nagar Haveli together one per cent. The Central Electricity Authority will allocate the remaining 13 per cent to power-deficient states.

Mr. Rawal said the emergency core cooling was successfully done on November 26 "to demonstrate that, in case of any accident, there is a system which will immediately cool the reactor by inducting the cooling water." He added: "This is one of the important tests before we go for criticality. Since this is a new core — which constitutes the heart of the reactor — we have to move cautiously to meet all the safety requirements. This is the first time we have built a 540 MWe reactor. Since the systems are new, we are thoroughly checking them."

The safety requirements are laid down by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), responsible for ensuring safety in nuclear power stations in the country. Before Tarapur-4 is commissioned, its various software and computer systems will be individually tested. After that, they will be tested in an integrated manner. If deficiencies show up, they will be tested again. "Tarapur-4 has a world-class design," said Mr. Rawal.

S. K. Jain, Chairman and Managing Director, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), said: "Hot commissioning is one of the major milestones in the history of a power plant where the reactor is prepared for starting the loading of the nuclear fuel. We have successfully completed it," he said.

Tarapur-4 has been built nine months ahead of schedule. Tarapur-3 will start generating electricity by the end of 2005. General Electric of the United States built the first two reactors in Tarapur. Messrs. Bechtel were the Architect-Engineers. The first two units in Tarapur began their commercial operations from October 1969. The NPCIL plans to build nuclear reactors of 700 MWe capacities, the design for which is complete.

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