Kudankulam Atomic Plant Gets Regulator Approval
Marking a step forward in commissioning of the Kudankulam atomic plant, India's nuclear regulator on Friday gave a go ahead for loading of fuel for the first unit of project which has been delayed due to controversies.
"Yes, based on the recommendations of the safety committee, we have granted permission for fuel loading," Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) Chairman S S Bajaj told the news agency from Mumbai.
With the AERB go-ahead, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) will start loading 163 fuel assemblies into the first 1,000 MW unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, which is being developed with Russian collaboration.
Shiv Abhilash Bhardwaj, Director (Technical) of NPCIL, said the fuel loading would commence in 10-15 days.
Experts said that NPCIL would take about a week's time to load the fuel assemblies, each 4.57 metres long, into the reactor core and conduct the first approach to criticality.
The 1,000 MW Russian reactor will use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.
The application of NPCIL and reports of the safety committees were reviewed at a meeting of the AERB yesterday.
The initial fuel loading and first approach to criticality will be carried out under the supervision of AERB officials who will ensure all safety measures to be in place and also verify the compliance to AERB approved procedures.
After the loading of fuel, the NPCIL will again come to AERB to seek clearance in phase-wise increase of reactor power level.
The clearance to increase reactor power will be granted after multi-tier safety review process involving checking compliance to various pre-requisites, review of the various commissioning procedures, results, inspection reports.
It would take approximately three weeks after fuel loading for the first unit to achieve criticality.
The first unit is expected to be commissioned by late September and would be connected to the grid in mid-October.
KKNPP Unit 1 would be the first reactor in the country to achieve criticality after the Fukushima nuclear accident in March last year.
In the wake of Fukushima accident, AERB had carried out safety reassessment of KKNPP's capacity to withstand extreme external events and non-availability of power supply for an extended period.
After removal of the dummy fuel, KNPP officials had earlier sent reports on the status of the plant and were waiting for the nod from the nuclear regulator for fuel loading.
Last week, Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy told Parliament that the AERB had not found any defects in the reactor pressure vessel of the Kudankulam plant.
"... The inspection of the reactor pressure vessel has been completed in Unit-1. The report of inspection has been submitted to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). No defects have been noticed during final inspections," Narayanasamy had said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW power plants at a cost of Rs 17,270 crore with Russian collaboration.