Friday, 01 November 2013 | Kumar Chellappan | CHENNAI, Pioneer
Finally the Atomic Energy Commission has conceded that unit-1 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu had some serious technical problems and certain components had to be replaced.
Addressing the country’s nuclear energy fraternity from the elite Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Trombay near Mumbai, RK Sinha, chairman, AEC, said the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS) of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant being built with Russian assistance had failed.
“Technical support was provided to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to find the root cause of the failure of some components of double check valves of the Emergency Core Cooling System of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and working out solutions. Modified design of valve with indigenously designed components has been fully qualified and installed in the reactor,” Sinha said on Wednesday while delivering the Founders’ Day speech. The Atomic Energy Commission observes October 30 of every year as the Founders Day as the day happens to be the birth anniversary of Dr Homi Bhabha, the father of India’s nuclear programme.
Sinha’s statement comes months after volunteers of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), an anti-nuclear brigade campaigning against setting up of Nuclear reactors came out with charges that many components in the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant were made of sub-standard materials. Directors of Zio-Podolsk, a Russian company which supplied crucial components to the KNPP had been arrested by the Russian Police for charges ranging from forgery to cheating.
Sekhar Basu, director, BARC, said the technical support to rectify the ECCS of the KNPP was provided by scientists in BARC.
A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of AERB, had told The Pioneer that a large number of equipment, components and materials of substandard quality from ZiO-Podolsk had been installed in Unit-1 of the KNPP. He had demanded the constitution of a committee of experts drawn out from various agencies to check threadbare the reactor.
Though the Union Government including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been claiming since 2011 that the unit-1 of the KNPP would be commissioned in a fortnight’s time, the reactor is yet to reach its full installed capacity of 1000 MW. The reactor went “critical” on July 13 (the technical word to denote the reactor is ready to generate and supply power), it is still facing a lot of uncertainties. RS Sunder, the project director of KNPP told The Pioneer that the reactor would start yielding power to the national grid before December 31 and it would reach its full potential soon.
The agreement for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant was signed between India and the then USSR in 1988. The reactor has been plagued by a lot of problems and issues since then indicating that imported nuclear reactors are not a viable option for India to meet its thirst for more and more energy.
Even after crossing the criticality stage and getting synchronised with the national power grid for supplying power, the KNPP has been shut down since Tuesday reportedly for further tests.
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