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No impact of Sikkim quake on 20 N-plants

Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

The Sikkim earthquake has not impacted the functioning of the country’s 20 nuclear power plants with a total generation capacity of 4,780 Mw. Their continued function proves that the nuclear power plant structures, systems and equipment have been designed in a way that enables them to take the effect of such calamities, an official with the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) said today.

The result is encouraging, especially given that the plants are located in zones II, III and IV with hazard levels ranging between low and moderate. “Seismicity is one of the key criteria in site selection for nuclear power plants in the country,” the official told Business Standard.

Of the 20 plants, the Mumbai-headquartered NPC has paid special attention to six Rajasthan units with a generation capacity of 1,180 Mw and two of 220 Mw each at Narora in Uttar Pradesh. “They are functioning normally,” he added.
 

EXISTING NUCLEAR POWER PLANT SITES
Site

Seismic
Zone

Tarapur III
Rawatbhata II
Kalpakkam II
Narora IV
Kakrapar III
Kaiga III
Kudankulam II
Source: Nuclear Power Corporation

The fool-proof nature of the system has been proved several times earlier. For instance, the Kakrapar atomic power station near Surat went on to be functional after the devastating 2001 Bhuj earthquake in the same state of Gujarat. “The Narora atomic power station is located in Zone IV. It has withstood several hundred tremors in the last two decades since its commencement of operation in 1989,” he said.

NCP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
S Krishnamurthy backed the official’s statement that yesterday’s temblor, with its epicentre 64 km away from Sikkim capital Gangtok, has had no impact on any of the nuclear power plants. According to the official, the country’s regions are categorised into seismic zones II to V, depending on the severity and frequency of its potential to sow devastation in the event of a quake.

Nuclear power plants are there in some of the most quake-prone zones of the earth—like Japan, he said, and referred to the Fukushima plant (which was partly damaged after a high-magnitude quake followed by tsunami six months ago).

“The nuclear reactors are designed to withstand quakes. They have testified the design by withstanding many severe quakes. The 1987-founded NPC, he said, would upgrade the safety applications at the operating plants recommended by various task forces and the committee appointed by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board after the March 11 Fukushima disaster.

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First Published: Tue, September 20 2011. 00:52 IST
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