NEW DELHI, July 12 (Itar-Tass) - India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has given the green light to the launching of the first unit at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) granted Clearance for the First Approach to Criticality (FAC) of Unit 1 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant as the next major stage of its commissioning, the Board said in a statement on Thursday, July 11.
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, it explained.
Unit 1 is the first of two units of VVER reactors located at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, with installed capacity of 1,000 MW each. It is the first commercial pressurised water reactor-based nuclear power plant in the country, the Board said.
AERB had earlier granted the final permission for the Initial Fuel Loading in Unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in September 2012. The clearance given to FAC is the culmination of in-depth review of all associated safety aspects, commissioning results, corrective measures of the identified non-conformances and submissions regarding fulfilment of various regulatory requirements, the Board said.
Following FAC, several number of lower 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 which is the phase-wise increase in reactor power level, the Board said.
The Times of India said AERB Chairman S.S. Bajaj was satisfied with the power plant’s safety.
Earlier India’s Supreme Court ruled that the plant was safe and that its construction would boost the Indian economy.
The Kudankulam nuclear power plant being built with Russia’s assistance in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu can withstand a strong earthquake or tsunami, members of the government committee for the evaluation of the nuclear power plant's safety said.
However the commissioning of the first stage of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant scheduled for late 2011 was delayed by mass protests that demanded its closure.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that protests at the Kudankulam NPP construction site reflected people’s safety and environmental concerns, and stressed that the government took them seriously. The government set up an independent group of expects to respond all legitimate and realistic needs and concerns among the local population, he said.
Singh stressed that cooperation between Russia and India in the field of nuclear energy, specifically under the Kudankulam NPP project, was progressing.
He said that the development of the Indian nuclear programme is a key element of the bilateral partnership. The construction of unit No. 1 at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant has been completed and it will soon start generating electricity.
Russia plans to launch Unit 2 at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant this year.
“Unit 1 is ready for launch. And we hope to launch Unit 2 next year,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said earlier.
Rosatom Head Sergei Kiriyenko said late last year that Unit No. 2 would be commissioned by the summer of 2013.
“The work is over. The final adjustment procedures are underway on unit No. 1. The technical gap between unit No. 2 and unit No. 2 will be seven months or so,” he said.
“All the rest depends on when the Indian side makes the decision. It’s next year,” he added.
According to Kiriyenko, India planned to file an application by the summer of 2013 for permission to launch Unit No. 2.
He also said that the coordination of commercial terms of building units 3 and 4 at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant had been completed. “We earlier signed an agreement on a loan to India to build Units 3 and 4. The technical parameters have also been approved,” he said.
The station is expected to start generating electricity in 2013.