People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu
Phone: 98656 83735; 98421 54073
April 19, 2013
[email protected]

Untrustworthy AERB and Its Sloppy Sarkari Reply for the Koodankulam Fiasco

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has finally woken up, it
seems. They have just acknowledged with great awkwardness: “…during
testing of thousands of valves installed in the plant, the
performances of four valves of a particular type were found deficient.
As corrective measures, the valve components are being replaced by
NPCIL and their performance is further being subjected to regulatory
review. Subsequent clearances will be granted by AERB only after a
satisfactory review.”

So, according to the AERB, it is a simple problem of just four valves
malfunctioning in the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP). What
an irresponsible and disingenuous explanation to a very complex and
dangerous problem that is deeply mired in corruption, theft,
wastefulness, shoddiness and sheer inefficiency.

No one in India can have any kind of trust and confidence in the AERB
anymore. We would bring the attention of the Indian citizens to the
Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report No. 9/2012-13 on the
“Activities of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board” published in August
2012. It pointed out so many flaws and problems in the regulatory
mechanism of the atomic energy establishment in India.

This discredited agency’s sloppy sarkari reply begs many more
important questions:

[1] Were the first and the second “hydro tests” at KKNPP complete
failures then? Why doesn’t the AERB say anything about these tests?

[2] How did the AERB give clearance to the “initial fuel loading”
(IFL) with all these four valves malfunctioning?

[3] The PMANE posed the following question to AERB on January 28, 2013:
“Zio-Podolsk, owned by the Russian company Rosatom, is under
investigation in Russia for shoddy equipment it produced for several
nuclear plants in that country and abroad since 2007. It is suspected
that Zio-Podolsk used wrong type of steel (cheaper than the one
originally required) to produce equipment for nuclear plants, such as
steam generators. This company is said to have supplied several
equipment and parts to the KKNPP. Please give a list of those
equipment and parts that have been supplied by Zio-Podolsk to the
KKNPP units.”

The AERB replied on February 12, 2013 (No. AERB/RSD/RTI/Appl. No.
329/2013/2421) very evasively: “Selection of a company for supplying
any equipment to NPCIL, is not under the purview of AERB. However,
with respect to Quality Assurance (QA) during design, construction,
commissioning and operation, a set of well established AERB documents
on QA Codes and Guides are published and they were followed during the
safety review of KKNPP.”

If the “well established AERB documents on QA Codes and Guides … were
followed during the safety review of KKNPP,” how did the AERB team
fail to find out about these four valves earlier? Which AERB officials
are responsible for this valve malfunctioning oversight? Why did the
AERB have to wait until the former AERB chief, Dr. Gopalakrishnan,
spoke about the Koodankaulam project?

[4] Mr. R. S. Sundar, the site director of the KKNPP, has claimed that
“the NPCIL had placed orders for obtaining a range of components for
KKNPP from LG Electronics, South Korea, Alstom and VA Tech, France and
Siemens, Germany, apart from getting components from Russia” (P.
Sudhakar, “Kudankulam plant Director denies allegation,” The Hindu,
April 4, 2013). Although he lists all these foreign companies and
their host countries, Mr. Sundar carefully avoids the names of
Zio-Podolsk and Informteck from Russia. Does the AERB consider the
KKNPP as a Russian project or an international collaboration project?
Does the AERB have the complete list of all these various parts and
equipment? How were the “well established AERB documents on QA Codes
and Guides” followed during the safety review of all these various
parts and equipment from all different sources?

[5] Dr. M. R. Srinivasan, the former chief of the Atomic Energy
Commission, has publicly acknowledged now: “We sought an additional
safety mechanism well before the Fukushima disaster. The safety
mechanism consists of valves. The original reactor design had to be
altered and I feel this is the basic cause for delay.” According to
him, the valves were designed partially in India and Russia and
compatibility with the reactor led to some hiccups
Did the AERB authorize the alteration of the “original reactor
design”? If so, when did the AERB authorize it? What authorization
procedure was followed? And who in the AERB authorized the later
“refit” in the reactor? What was this “refit” all about?

[6] Izhorskiye Zavody, which is part of United Machinery Plants (OMZ)
holding, signed a contract with India for the construction of two
nuclear reactor bodies for Kudankulam’s station in 2002. They shipped
a new nuclear reactor body that would be the first power unit of
India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant to the city’s sea port. Yevgeny
Sergeyev, general director of Izhorskiye Zavody, said at a ceremony
sending off the reactor: “We were so sure of our partners that we
started to produce the first reactor bodies four months before the
official contract was signed.” Sergeyev said the reactor was completed
six months before deadline (The St Petersburg Times, 19 November 2004, How were the
“well established AERB documents on QA Codes and Guides” followed
during the safety review of the reactor bodies? Is that why we found
belt-line welds much later in the RPVs in sharp contrast to the

The Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear
Supervision, Rostekhnadzor, claimed in 2009: “The main causes of
violations in the NPP construction works are insufficient
qualifications, and the personnel’s meagre knowledge of federal norms
and rules, design documentation, and of the technological processes of
equipment manufacturing. In particular, the top management of
Izhorskiye Zavody [supplier of RPV] have been advised of the low
quality of the enterprise’s products and have been warned that
sanctions might be enforced, up to suspending the enterprise’s
equipment production licence”

As Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan has pointed out in response to the AERB’s
sloppy sarkari reply, “the AERB comes up with a very minimal and
partial admission. Their clarification has left out many other flaws,
including potential corrupt practices, lack of adequate quality
assurance, and total & unnecessary secrecy in safety regulation of
civilian nuclear plants.”

To sum up tersely, the AERB has no integrity or credibility and should
call off the Koodankulam project completely instead of explaining away
the dangerous issues involved in the project and making us all guinea
pigs to test the Indian nuclear establishment’s corruption,
inefficiency and black market procurement practices.

The Struggle Committee
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)