Business Standard

NPC completes formalities to open reactor pressure vessel

Hopes to begin generation by June or early July

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The Nuclear Power Corporation (), which is working on a war-footing for the commissioning of first phase (1,000-Mw) of , has achieved yet another milestone.

The state-run entity responsible for the generation of nuclear power for electricity has completed the prerequisites for opening the reactor pressure vessel.

NPC has also collected baseline date for carrying out in-service inspection. Only last week had it submitted separate applications for the opening of reactor pressure vessel and loading the fuel to the Regulatory Board (AERB).

NPC chairman and managing director said a high-level team had visited the Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu last week.

They comprised Atomic Energy Commission chairman Srikumar Banerjee, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre director R K Sinha, NPC representatives and eight members of the central government-appointed expert panel, besides M R Sriniasan, who is chairman of a pertinent expert panel appointed by the Tamil Nadu government. “The team carried out inspection of the ongoing work and safety applications,” Jin told Business Standard.

He informed NPC had collected baseline data required for in-service inspection. “They are crucial, and meant to guard against any possible degradation of the plant during 60 years of its operations,” he added.

This is the first visit of a high-level team after the Tamil Nadu government gave go-ahead on March 20 for the completion of the Kudankulam plant in down-state Tirunveli district.

About having completed the prerequisites for the opening of reactor pressure vessel, Jain said the actual opening of reactor pressure vessel would be done after AERB gives its consent. By opening the reactor pressure vessel, the dummy fuel bundles, which are loaded during hot run, will be removed,” he said.

Fuel would be loaded after AERB gives approval for it. “We hope the these activities to complete by June so that the generation will be able to start at the Kudankulam project in the same month or by early July,” he added.

Jain said the commissioning of the nuclear project would be preceded by a three-stage review process. “In the case of the Kudankulam project, 17 specialist groups on different issues related to safety of reactors have conducted comprehensive studies and given their approvals,” he pointed out.

“Subsequently, the Advisory Committee on Project Safety will soon complete its analysis. Later, the AERB will do its own analysis before giving its consent for fuel loading into the reactors.”

As far as fuel is concerned, Russians have given sovereign guarantee for fuel supply for the life time of the Kudankulam plant. “Initially, 90 tonnes of uranium will be loaded into the reactors. Later, 30 tonnes will be replaced every year,” he informed.

On the availability of manpower for early completion of project, Jain said NPC was able to pull more than 2,000 persons and deploy them on various activities.

On the Tamil Nadu government’s proposal for making available the entire 2,000-Mw power from Kudankulam project to the state after its full commissioning, Jain said the 1897-founded NPC produces power and supplies it to the grid. “The power ministry will have to take a call on whether or not to supply entire power to Tamil Nadu,” he said. “We have no view on this issue.”

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