Holtec to supply used fuel casks to Kudankulam

17 February 2022

Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has placed an order with Holtec International subsidiary Holtec Asia to supply HI-STAR transport casks to serve away-from-reactor storage for Kudankulam units 1 and 2. NPCIL has also issued a call for tenders for the construction of a used fuel storage facility for Kudankulam units 3 and 4.

Holtec's HI-STAR 190 cask is already in use to transport used VVER fuel in Ukraine (Image: Holtec)

Kudankulam 1 and 2 are Russian-supplied VVER-1000 pressurised water reactors which were connected to India's electricity grid in 2013 and 2016 respectively. Construction of units 3 and 4, which make up the second phase of the plant, began in 2017.

Work began last year on the third phase of the plant, Kudankulam units 5 and 6. Fuel for the reactors is supplied by Russia; used fuel is stored and reprocessed by India, under a 2010 intergovernmental agreement.

USA-based Holtec International said the new casks for Kudankulam 1 and 2 are to be named HI-STAR 149 and described the plants as a sibling to the larger HI-STAR 190. Like the larger version, the HI-STAR 149 will feature Holtec's patented hex-crate fuel basket made from nanotechnology-based Metamic HT extrusions.

Holtec Asia President Jyoti Chatterjee said the contract would "pave the way" for Holtec Asia to share Holtec's storage and transport cask know-how with India's domestic manufacturers within the constraint of US laws.

"Holtec Asia's corporate mission is aligned with Prime Minister Modi's call for India’s manufacturing renaissance to transform the country into the world’s workshop through heightened self-sufficiency," Chatterjee said. "Reflecting the social responsibility ethos of our US parent, we plan to significantly boost our contribution to public service causes commensurate with our growing business footprint in India."

Bids invited

Separately, NPCIL has called for tenders to build a so-called away-from-reactor used fuel storage facility for Kudankulam units 3 and 4. Bids for the tender, which details the manufacture, fabrication, assembly, inspection, testing, qualification, supply to site, and installation commissioning of the facility, must be submitted by 24 February.

India is committed to a closed nuclear fuel cycle, in which used nuclear fuel is regarded as a material of resource. Radioactive wastes from the nuclear reactors and reprocessing plants are treated and stored at each site, either in at-reactor storage pools or away-from-reactor facilities located within the plant premises.

Away-from-reactor storage facilities are already in operation at several Indian nuclear power plants, Minister of State Jitendra Singh told the Indian parliament in December.

"These facilities are designed with a comprehensive approach to safety to withstand extreme natural events like earthquakes and tsunamis with provisions of large operational safety margins for safe, sound and reliable performance. These are designed to ensure that there would be no adverse impact on plant personnel, general public or the environment," he said in answer to a question in the Lok Sabha.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News