India’s Supreme Court asks for Kudankulam safety report

The Indian Government should be able to answer the Supreme Court's questions on KNPP (photo). Source: Rosatom

The Indian Government should be able to answer the Supreme Court's questions on KNPP (photo). Source: Rosatom

The order asks the Indian government to clarify whether the apex court’s May 2013 recommendations on the improvement of the power plant’s safety have been implemented.

India’s Supreme Court upheld a petition filed by the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy and ordered the government and the atomic energy regulatory body to present a report on the safety of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu.

The order says the government should report in three weeks’ time whether the apex court’s May 2013 recommendations on the improvement of the power plant’s safety have been implemented.

A source close to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India said the court's request could affect the current testing of unit 1 at KNPP while the documents were prepared but would not cancel the commissioning of the station. The source said the authorities had repeatedly presented different documents proving the safety of the power plant, and added that the documents would be presented again and would satisfy the Supreme Court.

Activists of PMANE, whose protests delayed the launching of the station for almost a year, keep filing petitions to the Supreme Court, demanding that the power plant’s safety be re-examined in hope that this would delay its commissioning.

The Supreme Court earlier proclaimed the KNPP safe and stated that its commissioning was necessary for further growth of the Indian economy.

The plant’s first unit is now on a trial run at 75 percent of capacity. Several tests were conducted and the unit was disconnected from the power grid for an inspection of equipment and systems.

Unit 1 was synchronised to the power grid on October 22, 2013, generating 160 megawatts (MW). The power will be further raised to 500 MW, 750 MW and 1,000 MW in stages. At every stage, various tests are conducted and the technical parameters are verified. Based on the results of the tests at each of the stages and with AERB clearances, subsequent stages are reached.

With the addition of Unit 1 of 1,000 MW capacity, nuclear power contribution in the country will increase to 5,780 MW. Unit 1 is the 20th nuclear power station of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited connected to power grid in the country.

In the middle of July 2013, India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) gave the green light to the launching of the first unit at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

Unit 1 is the first of two units of VVER reactors located at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, with installed capacity of 1,000 MW each. It is the first commercial pressurised water reactor-based nuclear power plant in the country.

The KNPP can withstand a strong earthquake or tsunami, members of the government committee for the evaluation of the nuclear power plant's safety said.

India plans to build 19 nuclear power units with a combined capacity of 17,400 MW by 2017. Eight of them will be built in cooperation with other countries. Russia will help build units 3 and 4 at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Each will have a capacity of 1,000 MW.

The construction of Unit 2 is almost completed. Rosatom Head Sergey Kiriyenko said earlier that Unit No. 2 would be commissioned by the summer of 2014. “All the rest depends on when the Indian side makes the decision,” he added.

He also said that the coordination of commercial terms of building units 3 and 4 at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant had been completed. “We earlier signed an agreement on a loan to India to build Units 3 and 4. The technical parameters have also been approved,” he said.

In 2010, Russia and India signed a roadmap for serial construction of up to 14-16 nuclear power units in the country, using Russian project design solutions.

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