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Our reactors are safe: Areva

Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

Amidst the Japanese nuclear disaster, which is still unfolding, French nuclear major has said the company is here to sell a safe and efficient product that meets India’s growing energy requirements while fully respecting its environmental objectives.

Besides, Areva, which is supplying six evolutionary pressurised reactors (EPR) of 1,650 Mw each for the Jaitapur project in Maharashtra, also clarified that the European banks and financial institutions are not relenting on their move to provide debt for the Jaitapur project.

BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, HSBC, and Natixis have shown their desire to provide debt at the concessional rate of interest.

Arthur de Montalembert, chairman and managing director of India said, “has been actively supporting Nuclear Power Corporation’s effort in securing attractive financing for its EPR reactor project. We have no indication or reason to believe that any of the banks that had effectively expressed an interest in the project will now be relenting.”

Montalembert’s statement comes after NPC, which is the developer of Jaitapur project, had clarified last week that several international banks had given commitment to finance the Jaitapur project and those received so far exceeded the amount of debt-funding required for the mega project. NPC is negotiating with European banks and financial institutions for the proposed debt.

Countering critics’ argument against the deployment of EPR reactors at the Jaitapur project, Montalembert said, “The innovative 1650 Mw EPR reactor design has been conceived through incremental improvements, which builds up on the experience of operating reactors of the French 1475-Mw N4 and German 1365-Mw Konvoi designs.”

“These reactors have generated, to date, more than one million gigawatt-hours of electricity. The EPR reactor thus benefits from extended operating experience, just like the Indian 700-MW PHWR benefits from its predecessors. Furthermore, the EPR reactor also builds up on decades of advanced R&D programmes, in particular those at France’s CEA (Atomic Energy Commission) and at Germany’s Karlsruhe Research Centre. The EPR reactor is a state-of-the-art design which incorporates the latest safety systems and is yet able to generate power at a competitive cost.”

Montalembert informed the EPR reactor was designed using input obtained directly from both French and German nuclear safety authorities, and benefited from these authorities’ cooperation and active involvement from early phases of its conception. As a result, the EPR reactor is optimised to meet the highest safety requirements of the latest generation of nuclear power plants, while offering competitively priced electricity.

“There are already four EPR reactors under construction, one each in Finland and France and two in China. A fifth one is under planning in France. As you will see, these projects are all far ahead of the one planned at Jaitapur by NPC, which is already benefitting from the already accumulated experiences and feedback and will continue to do so from the very first day of plant construction and operation,” he said.

According to Areva India CMD, it is a highly efficient product that will help India meet its growing clean energy needs. “We are here to sell a safe and efficient product that meets India’s growing energy requirements while fully respecting its environmental objectives,” he said.

On the Fukushima accident, Montalembert said it was triggered by the tsunami caused by an unprecedented earthquake. “While we are watching the developments very carefully and shall take into account all lessons learned from that event, it must be recognised that earthquakes and tsunamis of such magnitude are not to be expected at any of the sites contemplated for nuclear plant deployment in India. As you are aware, NPC is undertaking a review of their existing and proposed facilities. In that context, Areva of course remains committed to NPC to help them meet now India’s clean and safe energy requirements with the EPR reactor,” he noted.

First Published: Thu, March 31 2011. 00:50 IST