IAEA team begins safety review at Rajasthan nuclear plant

An in-depth operational safety review of two atomic power plants at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan by an expert team from IAEA began on Monday.

Jaipur: An in-depth operational safety review of two atomic power plants at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan by an expert team from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began on Monday in the first such exercise in India after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

A 12-member Operational Safety Review Team(OSART) of the IAEA will review the programme and activities essential to plant operation based on the global nuclear watchdog`s safety standards and proven good practices.

A Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited(NPCIL) release said the team consisting of experts from countries including Canada, Germany and Romania will carry out review by having plant tours, job observations and interaction with plant personnel.

The review is being carried out at the unit 3 and 4 of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) station in Chittorgarh district, about 300 km from here, and is scheduled to be completed by November 15, the release said.

The OSART review is basically a peer review of safety status and operating practices. It would also give the nuclear operator insight into its operational process.

All nuclear plants in the country had undergone a peer review earlier by international experts of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), but it is for the first time any nuclear plant is being subject to the OSART process.

At present, RAPS consists of 8 units including 2 units of 700 MW each under construction, and generates a total of 1140 MW of electricity, the release said.

A decision on inviting OSART experts to other nuclear power plants would be taken after studying the outcome of the process carried out at RAPS, according to officials.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had directed the Department of Atomic Energy to subject nuclear plants in the country to the OSART process to assist in its own safety reviews and audits of nuclear power plants.

This decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Singh in April last year to review safety concerns about nuclear plants across the country in the wake of the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan.

Three atomic power plants experienced a full meltdown following loss of power due to a massive earthquake and a subsequent tsunami at Fukushima on March 11 last year.