Activists cry foul over Koodankulam-plant’s Russian parts

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author: Express News Service, June 17,2012

Activists, some of them belonging to the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), on Saturday alleged that Russian firms were supplying substandard equipment for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, posing a serious threat to its safety.

Activists, some of them belonging to the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), on Saturday alleged that Russian firms were supplying substandard equipment for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, posing a serious threat to its safety.

Addressing a press conference here, they claimed that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) have accepted these low-quality equipment.

The activists sought to prove the charge by citing “two new documents that the PMANE had unearthed recently”.  According to them, the contract for the plant envisioned a Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV), which houses the reactor core and the coolant system, without “welds”.However, when the PMANE perused two different documents, authored by the NPCIL scientists in 2005 and 2008 respectively, it came to light that the scientists, who, initially sought RPVs without welds, had taken supply of one with two “welds”.

R Ramesh, a scientist attached to PMANE, said that the RPV, which surrounds the core of the plant, is most impacted by neutron bombardment. Therefore, when there are welds in the RPV, they could become brittle due to corrosion and may force the RPV to break.

“This will result in a nuclear disaster of great proportions,” he warned. The activists said the 2008 document, which was produced by the AERB, cites safety issues that would arise from the welds.

“Curiously, the Core Damage Frequency (CDF) figures were also increased by 100 times when you compare the two documents, indicating that the AERB was fully aware of the implications,” they alleged. There was no information on the tests conducted to address this safety issue, they added.

Also, once the fuel rods are inserted, a stage that the first unit of the plant was now reaching, the activists said it would be close to impossible to conduct the tests.

“We demand that the government come out with entire information on the plant immediately and stop steps to insert fuel rods before the issues are sorted out,” they said.

Centre seeks dismissal of petitions against KNPP

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PTI / Tuesday, June 12, 2012 20:22 IST

Asserting that the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant belonged to the “highest safety category” of plants currently in operation in the world, the Centre on Tuesday sought dismissal of petitions in the Madras High Court against the Rs 14,000 crore Indo-Russian project.

In a joint counter-affidavit to a batch of petitions, the Department of Atomic Energy and Atomic Energy Commission said no technological endeavour was free from certain amount of risk, but assured that the authorities were fully prepared to meet and face any eventuality at the KNPP in Tamil Nadu.

The affidavit said since the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), empowered to enforce safety provisions under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, in all the DAE units, had been doing this in a very transparent and effective manner there was no need for fresh review of KNPP.

A high-level committee of the AERB for review and safety of nuclear power plants in the country in the light of Fukoshima accident in Japan had submitted its report and implementation of the recommendations were being pursued with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

NPCIL suggestions would be taken into account while giving clearance for subsequent commissioning of stages, as applicable, the affidavit said.

It said the 1000 MW each KNPP reactors 1 & 2 “are categorised as Generation III Plus plants meaning thereby have the latest safety features.”

The Chernobyl and Fukoshima mishaps were no doubt among the worst calamities but, KNPP had been designed in such a manner that similar disasters could not happen, it said adding it was also well protected from a possible tsunami or other disasters.

Besides, there was a full fledged ‘Crisis Management Group’, responsible to lay down guidelines, policy and procedures to be followed to meet any eventuality, it said.

Stating that already over Rs 14,000 crore had been spent on the project as on October 31 last, it said any temporary stoppage of work would result in a colossal wastage of national funds and resources.

The petitioners cannot assume and presume and indulge in wild imaginations as if everything was going to be disastrous,the counter said.

The fact that the petitioners made no representation of any kind in the last 22 years during the construction of the KNPP ‘is evident to prove the writ petition is purely a publicity oriented litigation’, the counter said and sought its dismissal with exemplary costs.

The plant had faced stiff opposition from locals on safety grounds. After remaining stalled, work on its commissioning resumed in March last after the state government gave its nod.

WAKE UP PEOPLE–First dummy fuel assembly removed from reactor

Published: May 26, 2012 00:00 IST

First dummy fuel assembly removed from reactor

Staff Reporter, The Hindu

The first of the 163 dummy fuel assemblies in the first reactor of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) for the ‘hot run’ was removed on Friday evening following extensive inspections done on the internal components of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV).

Though the RPV was opened last Monday, after the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) allowed the KKNPP to do so based on the data submitted by it, the dummy fuel assemblies were not removed immediately. Instead, scientists of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), its Russian technical partner Atomstroyexports and experts from Croatia and Germany inspected the health of the internal components of the RPV for a few days.

“Since all internal components are functioning really well after the ‘hot run’ and are found to be in extremely good condition, we started removing the dummy fuel assemblies. The first assembly was removed around 4.30 p.m. on Friday,” Site Director, KKNPP, R.S. Sundar told The Hindu over the phone.

The removal of dummy fuel assemblies is expected to last the next five to six days. Once it is completed, mandatory inspection by the Croatian and the German experts will continue using non-destructive techniques to collect some more data.

All the data collected during this phase will be submitted to the AERB again so that the reactor will be ready for enriched uranium fuel loading.

Even as the AERB is scrutinising the post hot-run data, the KKNPP will clean the reactor and keep it ready for fuel loading. Once it gets the green signal from the AERB, the fuel loading will be taken up, Mr. Sundar said.

450 families live 1km from Kudankulam

Govt panel refuses to accept violation of AERB guidelines; says nobody resides within 2km of the nuclear plant

Gangadhar S Patil l Mumbai, DNA

If one were to believe the government, no one lives within 2km of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP). However, when DNA visited the site, it found that a thriving township with 450 housing units had come up 1km from the plant boundary, in violation of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) guidelines.
A 15-member expert committee set up by the government last November said in its report that there is no habitation within 2km of the plant boundary. But CASA Nagar, a project to rehabilitate survivors of the 2004 tsunami, is a kilometre from the boundary.

The township was planned and built in 2006 and about 2,000 people are already living there. These people lived in Idinthakarai and other nearby villages earlier.
As per AERB guidelines, only natural growth of population is permitted in the sterilised zone (a 5km radius around the plant). Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) officials say no rules were violated for setting up CASA Nagar. “Natural growth of population in the sterilised zone is not a mandatory condition, but a desirable condition,” they said. The NPCIL also said the township was not a result of mass migration or industrial activity and that studies have proved that there is no effect of radiation from a nuclear plant on people living around it.

But Ravi Kumar, an activist from Kudankulam village, pointed out that the township could just as well have been built elsewhere outside the sterilisation zone. This would have prevented the needless exposure of women and children to stack emission. In case of a radiological emergency, they will have to be evacuated immediately.
“The expert committee ignored the 2,000 people of CASA Nagar and presented a wrong picture, based on the 2001 census, saying there is no population within 2km of the plant,” he said.
Land for the township was allotted by the Tamil Nadu government and “there was no objection or instruction from NPCIL regarding the location of the township”, said an official with CASA, a non-governmental organisation.

The central government, however, defends itself citing a 1991 Tamil Nadu government order (GO). The GO says only industrial growth in the sterilisation zone is prohibited and there is no restriction on the growth of population.
Since CASA Nagar was only to resettle people from Idinthakarai village, the GO does not prevent it, the expert committee’s latest report argued.
The GO, however, appears to violate conditions laid down by the AERB while clearing KKNPP. “Suitable legislative and administrative control measures should be taken through state authorities to prevent increase in population within the sterilised zone beyond natural growth,” the AERB had said. DNA has a copy of the document.
“It is the responsibility of NPCIL to forbid any such unnatural settlement so close to the plant… AERB should have objected to the construction of the township, which was built five years after excavation for KKNPP began,” said Dr Pugazhendhi, a member of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy

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