Friday, September 21, 2012

Fuel Loading Starts at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in India

Indians must be thinking they are not Japanese (Fukushima, 2011-to date), just like Japanese were thinking they were not Russians (Chernobyl, 1986), just like Russians were thinking they were not Americans (Three Mile Island, 1979).

The Russian-made reactors are the first reactors in India that are capable of generating 1,000 MW.

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant is located near the very tip of the southern Indian subcontinent.

From The Times of India (9/22/2012):

CHENNAI: Loading of uranium fuel in the first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant started on Wednesday, the Vinayaka Chaturthi day, as the controversial project took a major step towards becoming operational. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had given its final clearance for loading fuel on Tuesday night.

"Fuel loading has started and it will take at least 10 days for the process to be completed," said a Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) official. Each of the two Russian-made VVER reactors in the plant is capable of generating 1,000MW power.

"The nod for loading uranium-235 fuel was given on Tuesday and the plant authorities must have started loading the next day. There is nothing that could have stopped them from loading fuel in the first unit," AERB chief S S Bajaj told TOI from Vienna. The loading process was started without any publicity as per advice from central and state governments.

The fuel supplied by Russia was moved to the reactor room by scientists last week. Apart from an AERB team, NPCIL officials and Russian engineers witnessed the crucial event, the last major step before commissioning of the plant. Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency are likely to visit the plant before the reactor vessel is closed after loading fuel, NPCIL sources said.

Once the fuel loading is complete, the AERB will give clearance for closing the reactor vessel and it would take another 10-15 days for the unit to attain criticality, when power generation will start, said an NPCIL official.

The unit is likely to be synchronised with the power grid by October-end. Though plant officials are confident of meeting the deadline, there are apprehensions as the Russian reactor is the first of its kind in the country and it may take some more time to fully operationalise the unit.

The AERB had given its approval for loading fuel on August 11, but laid stringent conditions to be fulfilled before beginning the process. "After the nod, we also sent a team of officials to give clearance, if required, then and there," said Bajaj. The project, which has faced several problems since being launched, finally cleared the legal hurdles when the Madras high court and later the Supreme Court refused to stop loading of fuel.

This is the first time that a nuclear reactor capable of generating 1,000 MW is being operationalised in the country. As of now, the biggest operational reactors in India are the two 540MW reactors at Tarapur in Maharashtra. All other reactors are smaller in size. The Russian abbreviation VVER stands for water-cooled, water-moderated energy reactor. Apart from Russia, China also has similar reactors.


Anonymous said...

Imposition of this dangerous technology on a population that has made it clear that they don't want it is an unforgivable human rights violation.

How many must die before human society will stop this madness?

Anonymous said...

Yeah. "There's no way we'll screw up! It's perfectly safe! Better than lowly jellyfish!"

Then they have a disaster, and they're like "Nobody saw it coming! The chances were low! Relatively. As evidenced by only a few major accidents in the past... half a century!"

After that, everyone else is like "Haw, you guys am nubz. We r bettarz". Then they use the exact same tech again, confident that it won't screw up, just because their country is democratic, or left or right, or white or black, or whatever choice group is on today's menu.

This story is not yet at an end - It is an infinity loop!

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Have you seen the movie "Groundhog Day"? At least in the movie, there was a slow and steady improvement...

Atomfritz said...

According to, the refueling already is 10% complete now.

Let's look forward how Koodankulam's NPP performance will be.
In other countries nuclear plants usually get uprated, but most Indian nuclear plants had to be downrated 1/4th to 1/3th of the nominal power because of accidents, leaks, deteriorated equipment, high internal contamination and excessive radioactivity releases. Safety upgrades are practically nonexistent in India. Actually many nuclear plants in India are like museums, still resembling the original vintage equipment like at their inauguration in the 1960s and 1970s, and in this regard unique on the world.

Here is a very interesting (long) article dealing with India's reactor problems and contamination around nuclear installations etc. It includes a (incomplete but impressive) list of mishaps in Indian reactors. (see section "No nuclear accidents in India?"):

Maju said...

Whether you know or not, Indians have been massively rejecting this project, with even one person killed already by police forces (and could have been much worse). However the nuclear station has been imposed on them by violence.

Atomfritz said...

Only one dead protester? I thought the body count is currently at two...

For an explanation how this happened see the first photo of this article which shows an Indian Coast Guard airplane doing low altitude flyovers to mock the protesters gathering on the beach:

Isn't it strange that in India planes are allowed to fly low-altitude attack approaches at nuclear plants?

(See also: )

Maju said...

I did not know about the second victim, thanks for the update Atomfritz.

Anonymous said...

The Indian people are thinking the same as the Japanese people, the same as the Russians, the same as the Americans. They're thinking their governments betray them, work against their interests for a handful of global companies making oodles of money.

Anonymous said...

Groundhog Day is a great movie. But if it were to happen in reality, we all know that most people would use it to constant do evil, far darker than what's shown in the film.

As I always say nowadays, fiction is about what can't or doesn't happen in reality. In reality, people rarely improve. They just want to believe what they want to believe, even if it's wrong.

By the way, my infinity loop comment was a reference to Remember11.

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