Chennai, July 12 () : Kudankulam Nuclear Plant, mired in opposition and expiry of multiple deadlines finally sees the light of the day as the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) gave its nod for commencing the controlled nuclear fission process, a step towards power production.
KKNPP Site Director R S Sundar said they are happy about the clearance and that they need to do some internal procedures. He added that power production is likely in 45 days.
The AERB has issued the clearance for ‘First Approach to Criticality’ (FAC). AERB Secretary Bhattacharya said in a statement that FAC is the commencement of the controlled nuclear fission process for the first time and is a step towards the subsequent beginning of power production in a nuclear reactor.
The statement further said several number of low power tests will be carried out in order to verify the conformance of reactor characteristics to the design objectives before granting clearance for the next commissioning stage. FAC clearance will be granted only after checking of compliance with the safety norms as stipulated by the Supreme Court, AERB said. Specialist reviews and checks have been done at the plant to ensure project safety.
KKNPP is an Indo-Russian venture whose Unit-1 is a VVER (Russian) reactor located at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu with an installed power generating capacity of 1,000 MW. KKNPP is the first commercial Pressurized Water Reactor-based nuclear power plant in the country.
The final permission for ‘Initial Fuel Loading’ (IFL) for Unit-1 had been granted by AERB in September last year. The apex court on May 6 had ruled in favour of operating the nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu amid petitions filed by anti-nuclear activists and widespread protests by the locals. The Supreme court had by then put down conditions for adherence to safety norms at the plant as well as measures to handle spent fuel.
The power-starved Tamil Nadu is expected to get its share of 450 MW from the first unit.
Meantime, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) activists said they would continue with their anti-nuclear struggle claiming that they have intended to commission a defective and sub-standard nuclear power plant fully aware that it might cause death and destruction to the lives and livelihood of the residents in and around Kudankulam.