Chennai: India’s atomic energy regulator Friday said it has given its nod to Nuclear Power Corporation Ltd (NPCIL) to load enriched uranium fuel rods in the first reactor at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).
“We have given the nod to NPCIL to load the fuel at KNPP on Tuesday. NPCIL has completed the stipulations that we had earlier laid in our Aug 10 sanction to load the fuel,” Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) chairman S.S. Bajaj told IANS from Vienna, where he is attending the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference.
According to him, it would take around 8-10 days for NPCIL to complete the fuel loading process.
“NPCIL has fulfilled all the conditions that had been laid by us,” Bajaj said.
The AERB chairman, however, noted that he was not in a position to say whether NPCIL has started the loading of the 163 fuel bundles in the first reactor.
Senior NPCIL officials were also not available to confirm whether the fuel loading process has indeed started.
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), in a statement Friday, demanded NPCIL stop the fuelling process immediately.
NPCIL is setting up the KNPP at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here with two Russian-made VVER 1,000 MW reactors.
After the reactor is fuelled, activities to approach first criticality-starting fission chain reaction, for the first time in a reactor, will be taken up.
Then the power generation will be gradually scaled up on AERB’s permission, based on the results of various studies. According to NPCIL officials, observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may arrive at the start or end as KNPP reactors fall under the safeguard agreement.
The KNPP is an outcome of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, the project construction only began in 2001.