New Delhi: India`s nuclear regulator has found no defects in the reactor pressure vessel of the Kudankulam atomic power plant, the Lok Sabha was informed today.
"... The inspection of the reactor pressure vessel has been completed in Unit-1. The report of inspection has been submitted to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). No defects have been noticed during final inspections," Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy said in reply to a written question in the Lok Sabha.
He said after completing the inspection, application for fuel loading has been submitted to the regulatory authorities.
"This will be followed by fuel loading, approach to criticality and power generation after obtaining stage-wise clearance from the AERB," Narayanasamy said.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW power plants at a cost of nearly Rs 16,000 crore with Russian collaboration.
The NPCIL is expected to load 163 fuel assemblies into the reactor sometime later this month after getting a nod from the AERB.
Each assembly is 4.57 metres long and comprises fuel bundles. The two 1,000 MW Russian reactors will use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.
The cost of the Kudankulam project has shot up by nearly Rs 2,700 crore on account of various kinds of delays, including delivery schedule of certain components from Russia and the protests in Kudankulam against the plant.
As per the original plan, the first unit was to be commissioned in December 2007, which was revised to mid-2010. This was further revised to September 2011 when work came to a standstill as villagers launched anti-nuclear protests fearing an accident. The protests were called off in March.
Narayanasamy said an expert group of eminent scientists, academicians, doctors and engineers specialising in diverse fields constituted by the government carried out a study of safety and related aspects of the Kudankulan project and explained the same to the representatives of the people protesting against the commissioning of the project.
"The expert group of the Central Government has comprehensively addressed the concerns by the local people and others and found the Kudankulam plant to be safe," he said.
Narayanasamy said an expert committee constituted by the Government of Tamil Nadu has also found this plant to be safe.
In reply to another question, he said the Central Government has also undertaken an enhanced outreach programme using multi-pronged approach to allay the apprehensions of the people.