Fuel loading in Kudankulam reactor possible by February: Nuclear Corp

December 17th, 2011 - 7:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Chennai, Dec 17 (IANS) India’s atomic power plant operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is confident of loading the real fuel to power the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project’s (KNPP) first unit by the first week of February if project activities restart in two weeks’ time.

“We have submitted most of the test reports after the hot/trial run of the first unit to AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board). The AERB teams are sifting through the reports and, till date, they have not made any adverse comments,” NPCIL chairman and managing director S.K. Jain told IANS.

He said that going by the current trend, the real fuel loading could be done during the first week of February next.

Queried about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement about commissioning of the first unit, Jain said: “My reading of his statement is that the central government- appointed committee to allay the fears of the local populace has answered all the questions and doubts raised about the safety of the reactors as desired by the cabinet resolution of the Tamil Nadu government. And now the state government should facilitate our project activities.”

On an official visit to Russia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said in Moscow that he was “confident that in a couple of weeks we should be able to go ahead in operationalising Kudankulam-I and, thereafter, in a period of six months, the Kudankulam-II”.

NPCIL is building two 1,000 MW atomic power reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from Chennai at an outlay of Rs.13,171 crore.

The first unit was slated to be commissioned in December. However villagers, citing fears for their lives and safety, started their agitation in August and brought all the project-related activities to a standstill.

The central and state governments have formed two panels to allay people’s fears. The state panel has representatives of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) that spearheads the protest against the project.

As per plans, the multi-disciplinary central panel would meet the state panel and explain the safety features and other aspects of the KNPP. The state panel will, in turn, allay the fears of the people.

At the end of third round of meeting Dec 15, the central panel shared a 77-page report with the state panel answering the questions raised by the activists.

According to Jain, though NPCIL has shifted the commercial operation of the first unit to May 2012, the reactor can go operational prior to that if pre-commissioning activities are started in two weeks’ time.

“In one week’s time we can bring all the systems to their optimal levels,” Jain said.

The various sub-stages prior to the commissioning are: (a) hot run (trial run of the reactor with dummy fuel) (b) loading of real fuel (c) first approach to criticality (d) power raise and connection of generator to grid (e) power raise to 75 percent and then to 100 percent.

“AERB grants the clearance for each stage after the review of the reports commissioning activities and tests carried out up to the preceding stage,” states the report prepared by the central government formed expert committee to allay the fears of the villagers.

The hot run for the first unit was completed in August 2011. The next stage is permission for opening of pressure vessel, removal of dummy fuel and in-service inspection of vessels and piping.

Speaking about the workforce mobilisation, Jain said: “Around 1,000 are from the local area and we expect them to come to work. Other contractors like L&T; would need sometime to mobilise skilled workers not available in Tamil Nadu.”

“We can push up work in the first unit fast as compared to the second one,” he added.

The first unit has attained physical progress of 99.2 percent and the second unit 94.6 percent as on November 2011.

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