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NPC 'yet to load' uranium in Kudankulam reactors

Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

Claims necessary documents being submitted to to carry out the task.

(NPC) has rubbished claims of anti-nuclear activists and villagers that in Tamil Nadu are getting loaded with uranium.

The state-run enterprise, which is bullish after Prime Minister said (during a recent Russia visit) that the first unit of the 1,000-Mw of project in Tirunelveli district would be commissioned “in a few weeks”, clarified that dummy metallic rods were used during hot run completed for the first unit in July 1.

On Sunday, NPC chairman and managing director said VVER reactors of the first unit of the Kudankulam project were not loaded with uranium. “In fact, we are still seeking necessary approval from the (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) for fuel loading in reactors,” he told Business Standard.

The NPC head recalled that the corporation has successfully completed all the required tests for hot run. The next state includes permission for opening of pressure vessel, removal of dummy fuel and in service inspection of vessels and piping. The 1987-founded NPC was in the process of submitting to the important documents relating to the results of commissioning and tests pertaining to hot run, besides results of inspection of reactor pressure vessel and other major equipment. It had to also submit the results on fuel-loading pattern and loading procedures, radiological zoning and commissioning of radiation monitoring system, availability of health physics facilities and commissioning of start-up instrumentation.

An NPC official informed that the experts group, appointed by the central government to allay fears, has -- in its report -- mentioned about the current state of reactors.

Further, NPC officials were responding to the demand made by the People’s Movement of Nuclear Energy for the removal of uranium from the project by end of the year. The agitation has been seeking the cancellation of the Kudankulam project.

NPC’s clarification comes at a time when the prime minister was on a two-day visit to Tamil Nadu.

The corporation has, all the same, warned that a disaster may take place in the event of lack of proper surveillance and maintenance of the Kudankulam project.

“Currently, 50 to 100 of the total 1,000 employees are allowed entry into the project by villagers. Our employees are doing their best to monitor the project and carry out maintenance. However, it is not sufficient,” the NPC official said. “If any disaster takes place, NPC should not be blamed for it. For, the villagers and protesters are not allowing the entire 1,000 employees and scientists to visit the plant since mid-October.”

According to the NPC official, a detailed survey would be carried out once the present crisis was over. “There will be a cost overrun as the work has come to a halt since mid-October. More than 5,000 contract workers have already gone to their respective states -- and it will be a huge task for their remobilization,” he said. A group of 140 Russian staff is still camping in the NPC’s residential colony. “Once the crisis is over, NPC and Russian staff will have to carry out a detailed inspection of reactors. They will add a few more things before commissioning of the first unit,” he added.

First Published: Mon, December 26 2011. 00:42 IST