India seeks new test reports on French N-reactors

Amid growing public resistance to nuclear power projects, India has sought new test reports from the French nuclear authority on safety issues.

Mumbai: Amid growing public resistance to
nuclear power projects, India has sought new test reports from
the French nuclear authority on safety issues raised in the
aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in Japan before finalising
orders for reactors from France`s atomic energy giant Areva.

"We have asked the French to provide the ASN (the
country`s nuclear safety authority) report on the safety
features related to EPRs after the new assessment," Atomic
Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee told agency today.
Banerjee, who is attending the International Atomic
Energy Agency`s 55th General Conference, said from Vienna that
he had conveyed the decision to have the ASN report to French
Energy Minister Eric Besson.

The ASN report would be available in December this
year, he said.

In December last, India had signed a USD 9.5 billion
framework deal under which Areva would build two European
Pressurised Reactors for the 9900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power
Project (JNPP) in Maharashtra with an option for four more.

The proposed project is facing stiff resistance from
the local population, several political parties and activists
who want it scrapped after the radiation leak at Fukushima
nuclear plant after the Tsunami in March this year.

The opposition to nuclear power has spilled over from
Jaitapur in Maharashtra to Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu where 100
odd protesters are on a fast to voice their concern over the
safety of the 2000 MW atomic power plant.

The protest prompted Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to
write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday to order
immediate halt work on the project until the public concern
over safety issues had been addressed.

The Prime Minister rushed Minsiter of State in PMO V
Narayanasamy to the project site seeking to allay the fears of
the local people.
According to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.
officials, it is only after the ASN report is received that
India will go ahead and place orders for the EPRs.

The opposition from the public and political parties
notwithstanding, India wants to raise its atomic energy
component to a quarter of its total power by 2050 from a
minuscule three per cent at present.

Earlier this month, V Narayanasamy had in his written
reply to Lok Sabha said that a review of safety aspects at the
proposed JNPP was being carried out by Atomic Energy
Regulatory Board.

"Atomic Energy Commission has also deputed an expert
committee for assessing the technology and the safety aspects
of EPRs. The Committee carefully examined these issues and
visited the plants under construction in Finland and France,"
he said.

He told the House that the Committee also had discussions
with regulatory authorities in Finland and France where the
type of EPRs sought by India are being manufactured.

Following the Fukushima accident, safety review of the
EPRs is underway in France and will be further reviewed by
AERB, Narayanaswamy said.

"On review by NPCIL, it was found that the originally
proposed computer systems needed further reinforcement to meet
the regulatory requirements. Similar observations were also
expressed by other regulators like USNRC (USA), STUK
(Finland), HSE (UK), ASN (France)," the Minister said.

Accordingly, modifications of computer systems for
Control and Instrumentation architecture in respect of EPRs
units to be set up at Jaitapur site will be done to meet all
the safety and regulatory requirements of AERB, Narayanasamy
had said.


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