Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in India safe from Fukushima-like disaster

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu and other similar projects of Russian design meet all post-Fukushima safety requirements with particular attention was given to withstanding external hazards, like an earthquake or a tsunami, said an official of Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation.

Vladimir Asmolov, an Adviser to the Director General of Rosatom, told IANS that had Japan followed the principles based on global experience of nuclear power development, the accident at Fukushima plant in Japan on March 11, 2011 could have been avoided.

Asmolov, who was sent by the Russian government to assist the Japanese in dealing with the situation five days after the Fukushima accident, said nuclear power was a safe energy source.

He said Kudankulam plant would be able to withstand a Fukushima-like accident and that active and passive safety systems were in place there. The plant is protected from natural and technological disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and even plane crash.

Asmolov said the Fukushima disaster could have been avoided had all such safety precautions were in place.

“The prevention and mitigation principle was used in case of Japan. Here, the Japanese focused on the prevention principle without paying due attention to the mitigation principle as if it was sure that an accident was impossible,” he added.

He said the power unit of Fukushima plant was built on the basis of a design developed in 1960 and, therefore, the station was not ready for a crisis situation of the 21st century.

“Emergency generators were not ready for autonomous operation after interruption of external power supply to the station,” he added.

Asmolov said the main conclusion to be drawn from Fukushima is that all safety levels must be provided and hence stress-testing is performed at all nuclear power plants built by Russia.

Not only that, seismicity level is checked at all power plant sites and additional diesel generators are installed to withstand any contingency, he added.

This week Unit 2 of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in India has reached its full capacity of 1000 MW. For the first time both units 1 and 2 of project are working at full capacity, officials told Nuclear Asia.

“Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) attained its full generation capacity for the first time and became the first nuclear plant in India to generate 2,000 MW of electricity”, they said.

According to them, KKNPP has so far generated more than 20,000 Million Units of electricity, which helped to avoid around 17,083,874 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Average lifecycle GHG emissions for Coal & Nuclear is 888 & 29 (tonnes/GWh) respectively.

Unit 1 was synchronised with the grid on 22 October 2013, Unit 2 was synchronised with the grid on 29 August 2016.

The construction work of units 3 and 4 of KKNPP commenced on 29 June 2017 with the ceremonial pouring of first concrete. A total of six 1,000 MW units are planned at Kudankulam and will be owned by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, an Indo-Russian joint venture, is located at Tirunelveli district.

Light-water VVER-1000 reactors with regular water under pressure – are used in nuclear power plants design in Russia. Nuclear power plants with VVER-type reactors are now at various stages of implementation in Finland, Belarus, Bangladesh and other countries. In such reactors water serves both as a neutron moderator and as a reactor coolant.

The current installed nuclear power capacity in India comprises of 22 reactors with a total capacity of 6780 MW. The present share of nuclear energy is about 3.2% in the current financial year 2016-17 (up to Feb-2017).

India has accorded ‘in principle’ approval of five sites for locating 28 nuclear power reactors with a total capacity of about 32000 MW.

In addition, there are presently nine reactors under construction with a total capacity of 6700 MW. The Government has also recently accorded administrative approval and financial sanction for 12 reactors with a total capacity of 9000 MW.