France's Areva has signed major agreements with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for the construction of two EPR reactors at Jaitapur in India.
The agreements, which set contractual conditions, the industrial scheme for the project, a breakdown of roles and responsibilities, plus provisions for other partnerships, were signed by Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon and NPCIL chairman and managing director SK Jain during a three-day working visit to India by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Areva is to supply nuclear islands and associated services for the two EPRs, the first of a series of six units to be built at the Jaitapur site in Maharashtra. According to Areva, work will begin in early 2011 on studies to enable site excavation, the approval process with the Indian nuclear safety authority, and the detailed technical configuration of the plants.
A memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the construction of the Jaitapur plant, including lifetime fuel supply for the units, was signed by NPCIL and Areva in February 2009, and the project was recently granted environmental clearance by India's Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Construction of the two 1700 MWe units is pencilled in to begin in 2013, with operation in 2016-2017. In publicity material released in conjunction with the presidential visit to India, Areva promises "maximum localisation" of component production as part of its approach and points to a memorandum of understanding it signed in 2009 with Bharat Forge to set up a new forging facility in India.
The agreements between Areva and NPCIL were among a long list of Franco-Indian accords signed during the presidential visit. These also included the necessary intergovernmental agreements on industrial and scientific cooperation and intellectual property rights for the project to go ahead, plus agreements on nuclear research and development. Other nuclear-related agreements signed by the two countries covered multilateral cooperation on nuclear safety, nuclear regulation, reactor safety and waste management.
A joint declaration issued by France and India described the signature of the general framework agreement by Areva and NPCIL as a "milestone". It also noted the readiness of the two countries to continue discussions on nuclear liability in order to establish a framework for cooperation, following on from the adoption by India of nuclear liability legislation earlier this year. That law places responsibility for any nuclear accident with the operator and sets a monetary limit on total liability, in line with international standards. However, unlike international conventions, it also contains a clause giving a plant operator recourse to the original supplier for up to 80 years after plant start-up if the nuclear incident "has resulted as a consequence of an act of supplier or his employee, which includes supply of equipment or material with patent or latent defects of sub-standard services."
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News