Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japan nuclear disaster: NPCIL chief Dr SK Jain says nuclear reactors to be imported are safe

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 19: Nuclear Power Corporation of India chairman Dr SK Jain on Saturday said the nuclear reactors being imported are designed site-specific, meeting all local geological and environmental safety requirements.

"Though we are importing the reactors, they are built to the specifications given by us. They will suit the local conditions where they will be installed," Dr Jain said clarifying that NPCIL will reject them if they do not meet the specifications fixed by it.

India plans to import as many as 40 nuclear reactors from France and USA in the next 10 years. Doubts are being expressed that some of these reactors are being made for the first time and thus, their technology not tested anywhere in the world.

Dr Jain was in the city to take possession of equipment for prototype fast breeder reactor from ECIL chairman YS Mayya. He later told this correspondent that all the existing nuclear plants in the country had been designed to withstand terror attacks even by aeroplanes and missiles.

"We have an inbuilt and back-up mechanism to face any terror threat. Our nuclear plants are not only safe but also as clean as hospital. We have worked on computer simulations and have made enough safeguards to protect our reactors from terror attacks," he added.

According to Dr Jain, in case all power supplies are lost at a nuclear plant in the country, there's a clear gap of 49 hours time to restore the heat sink and cool the reactor. "Our plants are so designed as to trip within three seconds in case of earthquake or other natural calamity," he clarified.

At present NPCIL operates 20 nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 4780 mw. Of these reactors, two are boiled water reactors at
Tarapur, and others pressurised heavy water reactors. The safety of the BWR plants was reanalysed a few years ago. They have been renovated, upgraded and additional safety features back fitted to latest state-of-art safety standards.

Addressing mediapersons later in the afternoon, Dr Jain said the PHWRs, on the other hand, are of a different design than that of BWRs and have multiple, redundant and diverse shutdown systems as well as cooling water systems.

"Our plants have testified their safety towards the severe earthquakes of Gujarat in Bhuj on January 26, 2001 when the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station continued to operate safely, supplying much needed power to the region," Dr Jain pointed out.

He said even during the tsunami on December 26, 2004, Madras Atomic Power Station was safely shutdown without any radiological consequences.

"The event in Japan will be reviewed in detail in due course as the detailed information becomes available. Resulting out of such a review, any reinforcement as needed in Indian reactors will be implemented," Dr Jain said.

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