“New Kalpakkam N-reactor to be ready in 2 years”

Mumbai: Even as the Kudankulum nuclear power facility in Tamil Nadu faces stiff opposition from locals and activists on safety concerns, the country's atomic power plant operator today said the 500-mw prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) being set up at Kalpakkam is likely to be commissioned within the next two years.

"Construction work on the reactor is in the advanced stage and we expect it to start generating electricity in the next two years," Umesh Chandra, Senior Executive Director (safety), Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL), told PTI here.

State-run NPCIL has embarked on a three-stage nuclear power programme that comprises pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) in the first stage, fast breeder reactors (FBRs) in second and thorium-based systems in the third stage. The programme is based on a closed fuel cycle, where the spent fuel of one stage is reprocessed to produce fuel for the next stage. This multiplies manifold the energy potential of the fuel and greatly reduces the quantity of waste. The first phase comprises optimum utilization of the limited uranium resources and higher plutonium yield for the second stage fuel for FBRs.

"In view of the limited fossil fuel availability with the country, this programme will enable us to make maximum utilization of uranium and thorium fuel," he said. Chandra said some vital equipment have already been set up at Kalpakkam near Chennai. "We believe that the unit will be commissioned within the next two years after getting approvals from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)." He said after the commissioning of this unit, another 8-10 such facilities will be set up. "It will take another 10-15 years to start the third stage."