India On The Right Track In Its Nuclear Energy Programme, But Challenges Remain

India’s nuclear energy programme is on the right track and good news came when the much awaited Unit-2 (Reactor-2) of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) attained criticality on July 17.

It will add 1000 MWe electricity to the southern grid and raise the contribution of nuclear power in the country to 6780 MWe.

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project thehindubusinessline

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project

As per the procedure in the next one month the second unit is expected to generate 430 MW and the unit will be connected to the grid. And in the next three months, the second unit will reach to 100 per cent power and will operate at 1,000 MW. The first unit started supplying electricity in 2013.

However, on the other hand there was bad news at Kakrapar Atomic Power Station in Gujarat (KAPS). During the ongoing inspections in KAPS units, unusual indications of corrosion spots were noticed in the coolant channels. The leak was plugged ten days later.

According to nuclear watchdog of India — the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) — it had asked for inspection of coolant channels of other units to rule out the possibility of similar corrosion. “The inspections done so far in different reactors indicate that presence of local corrosion spots on coolant channels is specific to KAPS units alone and no evidence of this phenomenon is seen in other reactors inspected so far,” AERB said.

Gujarat's Kakrapar atomic power station indiatoday

Gujarat’s Kakrapar atomic power station indiatoday

“We studied the pressure tubes and leak detection systems in all other PHWRs in the country and found them to be satisfactory. We didn’t find anything amiss in them that might result in an incident similar to that happened at Kakrapar,” Shiv Abilash Bhardwaj, Chairman, AERB.

India’s atomic power plant operator NPCIL has two 220 MW units at KAPS. Following the heavy water leak, unit 1 is under cold shut down. The second unit is under maintenance shut-down since July 2015.

However, despite tasting success in generating nuclear energy, Greenpeace India in its report ‘Red Alert – India’s nuclear disaster plans outdated and inadequate’, highlighted key issues like “lack” of emergency preparedness, “ancient” manual for emergency guidelines, “unacceptable” standards of food contamination among the reasons for India’s plans being “outdated” in case of an emergency.

Greenpeace India also referred to the recent “accident” at KAPS in Gujarat, saying that it proved that India’s nuclear accident plans are “not in line” with international standards.

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