`India attaching high priority to nuclear safety`

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 12:08

United Nations: India on Wednesday said it attaches
"the highest priority" to the safety of its nuclear plants and
will invite experts from the IAEA to assist it in reviewing
and enhancing their operational safety performance.
"Our nuclear safety track record has been impeccable over
345 reactor years of operation but we recognise the importance
of continuous improvement and innovation in our nuclear safety
standards and practices covering the entire range of
activities citing, design, construction, operation and
upgradation," Member of Parliament Prem Chand Gupta said in
his address to the UN General Assembly session on annual
report of the IAEA.

He said the Indian government has underscored that safety
of the country`s nuclear plants "is a matter of the highest
priority".

The various measures taken by the government for nuclear
safety include introduction of a bill in Parliament to change
the functional status of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to a
"de-jure independent Nuclear Regulatory Authority".

In addition, six safety review committees have looked into
various aspects of nuclear safety.
"India will invite the Operational Safety Review Teams of
IAEA to assist in its own safety reviews and audit. All
reactors, whether indigenous or imported will, without
exception, meet the enhanced safety standards," Gupta added.

India is also putting increased focus on emergency
preparedness and response to a nuclear accident beyond the
design basis accidents.

"India supports the work of IAEA and from this perspective
has cosponsored the draft resolution on the report of the
International Atomic Energy Agency," he said.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident, India said
the world nuclear community has to take necessary measures to
address concerns of public about safety of nuclear power
plants.

"Nuclear safety should be seen not as a static but as a
continuously evolving process," he said.

It is also important that the IAEA takes all necessary
measures to allay apprehensions in the public and among member
states about the safety of nuclear power plants, taking into
account the current advances in design and technology.

Gupta said India views nuclear energy as an essential
element of its national energy basket and the country is
committed to taking forward its three-stage nuclear programme
based on a closed fuel cycle.

India envisages scaling up nuclear energy production to
20,000 MW by 2020 and 60,000 MW by 2030.

Gupta said India`s National Disaster Management Authority
has drawn up `management of nuclear and radiological
emergencies` which provides an integrated approach to disaster
management covering components like prevention, mitigation,
preparedness, compliance with regulatory requirements,
capacity development, response, relief, recovery,
rehabilitation and reconstruction.
India`s nuclear programme is oriented towards maximising
the energy potential of available uranium resources and the
utilisation of the large thorium reserve.

"We believe that available global uranium resources cannot
sustain the projected expansion of nuclear power without
adopting the closed fuel cycle approach.

"We encourage the agency to further engage itself in the
thorium fuel cycle," he said.

Gupta told the UN General Assembly that the Bhabhatron
telecobalt unit, donated by India to Vietnam, was successfully
commissioned in 2010.

The installation of another Bhabhatron unit in Sri Lanka
is presently in progress.

Experts from India are providing support to Sri Lanka in
construction, installation and commissioning of the facility
and training of the technical staff, Gupta said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 12:08

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