New Delhi: India`s nuclear regulator on Friday said it has granted permission for loading of fuel into the much-delayed Kudankulam atomic power plant.
"Yes, based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, we have granted permission for fuel loading," Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) Chairman SS Bajaj told PTI from Mumbai.
With the AERB go ahead, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) will start loading 163 fuel assemblies into the first 1,000 MW unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, which is being developed with Russian collaboration.
Experts said that NPCIL would take about a week`s time to load the fuel assemblies, each 4.57 metres long.
The 1,000 MW Russian reactor will use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.
The AERB clearance will enable NPCIL to load fresh fuel assemblies into the reactor core and conduct first approach to criticality.
KKNPP Unit 1 would be the first reactor in the country to achieve criticality after the Fukushima nuclear accident in March last year.
The application of NPCIL and reports of the safety committees were reviewed at a meeting of the AERB Board held yesterday.
The initial fuel loading and first approach to criticality will be carried out under the supervision of AERB officials who will ensure all safety measures to be in place and also verify the compliance to AERB approved procedures.
Shiv Abhilash Bhardwaj, Director (Technical), NPCIL said the fuel loading would commence in 10-15 days.
After removal of the dummy fuel, KNPP officials had earlier sent reports on the status of the plant and were waiting for the nod from the apex nuclear regulatory body in the country for loading the real fuel.
In the wake of Fukushima accident, AERB had carried out safety reassessment of KKNPP`s capacity to withstand extreme external events and non-availability of power supply for an extended period.
The next stage for obtaining AERB clearance is phase-wise increase of reactor power level, and this will be granted after multi-tier safety review process involving checking compliance to various pre-requisites, review of the various commissioning procedures, results, inspection reports.