The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd today told the Supreme Court that the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant has advanced safety features and it was designed to withstand earthquakes and other such threats.
The NPCIL made the submissions before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The bench was hearing an NPCIL application seeking an extension of time to complete the away-from-reactor (AFR) facility for spent fuel according to the apex court’s directions passed in a judgment in May 2013.
Representing NPCIL, Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta told the bench, comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, the process to complete the AFR facility was going on.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, opposed the NPCIL plea and said even after the fuel rods were out of service, they remain radioactive for a long time.
He referred to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan after a massive earthquake and followed by a tsunami, and said the spent fuel stored there was leaked in the environment and sea which caused radiation in adjoining areas.
To this, Mehta said, the plant is specifically designed and has been “provided with all the advanced safety features. The spent fuel is stored near the plant, which is designed to survive earthquakes as per the specific site.”
When Mehta told the bench the process for an AFR facility was on, Bhushan claimed that even site for this has not been selected yet.
The bench asked Mehta to inform it about the progress made in this regard and listed the matter for hearing in July.
NPCIL is seeking extension until April 2022 for the construction of an AFR facility for the Kudankulam plant.
In 2013, the apex court gave its nod to commissioning of the plant in Tamil Nadu but asked the government and the NPCIL to find suitably safe areas to dispose the nuclear waste. It also issued guidelines on commissioning, safety and security and environmental issues concerning the nuclear plant.
The project is an Indo-Russian joint venture to establish a nuclear power plant with six units in Tamil Nadu.
NPCIL, in a plea filed in the apex court, has said two units of the plant were under operation and another two were under-construction. It has said the remaining two units were under advanced stage for commencement of construction.