Kudankulam N-plant close to achieving criticality

India`s first 1000 MW nuclear reactor built in Tamil Nadu in collaboration with Russia is undergoing several commissioning processes after delay.

Mumbai: India`s first 1000 MW nuclear
reactor built at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu by the Nuclear
Power Corporation (NPCIL) in collaboration with Russia is
undergoing several commissioning processes after much delay,
and it is being currently tested for `Hot Run`, just two steps
away from `criticality`.

While the thermal power plants in the country are
struggling to increase the unit size to 800 MW, this
achievement is a significant milestone, Department of Atomic
Energy (DAE) sources said.

The next step will be the loading of actual fuel and
according to DAE its clearance has been already received from
Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). However, the Board
maintained that the permission will be given only when the
`Hot Run` tests are successfully completed.

The criticality (final commissioning for power
production) is expected before the end of this year, the
sources said.

The construction of The VVER-100 type of Russian reactor
as part of Kudankulan Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) began in
2002. Although it was progressing ahead of schedule for first
few years, it was facing enormous delay in going `critical`
(almost over three years) due to several reasons.

But the observation that several cables were missing to
be incorporated by designers in the reactor almost towards
completion of the plant 2009-2010) could not be explained
which further delayed the commissioning, the sources said.

The designers discovered that several km of power and
control cables in the reactor were `missed` after the
completion of double containment of the reactor.

The delay of Kudankulam Nuclear Power project (KKNPP)
Unit 1 was due to several factors including the reorganisation
and reversal of reorganisation of Russian nuclear industry
and the major `miss` of important power cable, the sources
said adding although major equipment were received from
Russia well in time, difficulties were experienced in
receiving the material in sequential order.

Asked how the serious cable problem was rectified, the
sources said, the cables were meant for power supply to
various instrumentation in different buildings.

"A year ago, a major operation had to be undertaken to
incorporate the `missing` cable by making new opening in the
containment domes (breaking open the concrete walls) and was
sealed again after bringing the cables from the switch yard to
inside," the sources said.

When asked about the progress of the second unit of
KKNPP, the sources said care has been taken and is
progressing well to be commissioned next year.

The sources also said for Units 3 and 4 of KKNPP, more
indigenous components will be incorporated to reduce the delay
and there will not be such delays like 10 years. The units 3
and 4 will not take more than five to six years for
completion, they said.

The advantage with Russian reactors is that it would be
only a duplication after working on VVER-1000 for the last
10 years. "We know the manufacturers, and executing the
project will not be so difficult as Indian manufacturers who
have experience in nuclear technology will be actively
participating," the sources added.


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