Kudankulam nuclear power plant gets nod from AERB for loading fuel

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Kudankulam-nuclear-power-plantAug 11, Chennai: The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board on Friday gave its nod for the loading of fuel in the first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, marking a significant movement forward towards the commissioning of the plant.

Having received the go-ahead, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will start loading the 163 fuel assemblies into the 2×1,000-MW light water reactor supplied by Russia. The reactor will use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as a coolant and moderator.

Sources in NPCIL are confident that the loading will start around mid-August and that it will take around a week to load the fuel assemblies, each of which is 4.57 metres long, into the reactor core and conduct the first approach to criticality.
After receiving the green signal from AERB, NPCIL will have to inform the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about moving the fuel from the stores to the reactor. “It is up to the IAEA to send a person to oversee the process,” a senior official from NPCIL pointed out.

KNPP falls under the safeguards agreement signed by India and the IAEA and the latter has to be informed about fuel loading. NPCIL officials also pointed out that the Tamil Nadu government has been informed that fuel loading will take place around August 15.
Prior to the loading of the fuel, NPCIL will have to put some components into the reactor, which is expected to be completed within a couple of days.

The loading of fuel is expected to happen nearly one year after protests against the nuclear power project had erupted at Koodankulam.
Speaking about the status of the second reactor, NPCIL officials pointed out that the electrical systems are being charged and the sea water pumps are running.

The plant is currently under construction in the State of Tamil Nadu in southern India, India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board reported on August 10. This process will last about 10 days. The construction which is being carried out with Russia’s help was suspended for several months because of the protests of the enemies of power production.

Peoples’ Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which is spearheading the protests, condemned the AERB’s decision as “authoritarian and illegal”.

In a press statement, PMANE convenor S P Udayakumar said that since the Madras high court’s judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the legality of the environmental clearance granted for the project was awaited, the decision amounts to contempt of court and outright insult of the rule of law. “It is a gross violation of AERB’s commitment to the court and against the sentiments of the locals,” he said.

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