Kudankulam units achieve construction and operation milestones

16 July 2015

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has announced that construction of unit 2 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu has been completed. In a 14 July statement, AERB also said that it had issued a licence for the regular operation of unit 1, which entered commercial operation on 31 December, and a siting permit for a project to build four reactors in Gorakhpur in Haryana. 

Kudankulam 1 and 2 - 460 (Rosatom)
Kudankulam units 1 and 2 (Image: Rosatom)

"The construction of unit 2 of KK-NNPP is complete and the unit is presently undergoing initial commissioning activities," AERB said.

Of the newly issued licence for unit 1, AERB said its safety review had confirmed the reactor satisfies regulatory requirements and current international safety standards.

Subsequent to first criticality of unit 1 achieved on 12 July 2013, plant owner Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) was permitted to increase the reactor's rated power level in stages, for the completion of specified commissioning tests, and to synchronize the unit with the southern grid, at various power levels up to 100% of its rated power.

AERB's latest decision regarding the reactor is "the culmination of an in-depth review over many years of the safety aspects related to design, construction and commissioning of the unit with respect to compliance with the specified requirements," AERB said. "The reviews have included checks to ensure that quality assurance norms have been followed and the commissioning systems meet the acceptance criteria for safe operations." AERB personnel monitored the entire commissioning period, it added.

Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana (GHAVP) is a nuclear power plant construction project to build four 700 MWe units. These proposed units belong to a new generation of indigenous pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs), AERB said. GHAVP units 1 to 4 will be a "repeat design" of Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP 3 and 4) and the Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP 7 and 8), which are "in advanced stages of construction", AERB said. These PHWRs will have additional passive safety design features for enhanced levels of safety, it added.

AERB said it had granted siting clearance for GHAVP following an extensive multi-tier safety review of the application and supporting documents that NPCIL had submitted. The review was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the latest AERB safety code on the site evaluation of nuclear facilities issued last year. This included a review of the radiological impact of the proposed plant. The application subsequently underwent a review by AERB's Committee for Review of Security of Nuclear Facilities and the Advisory Committee for Project Safety Review of PHWR.

"The Board of AERB, being the final authority with respect to decisions on issuance of consents, after examining the overall status of the safety reviews related to the siting of GHAVP, has accorded the approval for issuing the siting consent," AERB said. The Ministry of Environment and Forests granted environmental clearance for the project in December 2013.

India has a flourishing and largely indigenous nuclear power program and expects to have 14,600 MWe of nuclear capacity on line by 2020. It aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.

Kudankulam is the country's first large nuclear power plant, comprising two VVER-1000 (V-412) reactors, under a Russian-financed $3 billion contract and built as part of a bilateral agreement between India and Russia signed back in 1988. The units were originally scheduled to begin commercial operation in December 2007 and December 2008 respectively.

In April 2015 the government gave in principle approval for new nuclear plants at ten sites in nine states. Those for indigenous PHWRs are: Gorakhpur in Haryana's Fatehabad; Chutka and Bhimpur in Madhya Pradesh; Kaiga in Karnataka; and Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan. Those for plants with foreign cooperation are: Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu (VVER); Jaitapur in Maharashtra (EPR); Chhaya Mithi Virdhi in Gujarat (AP1000); Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh (ESBWR) and Haripur in West Bengal (VVER), though this location had been in doubt. In addition, two 600 MWe fast breeder reactors are proposed at Kalpakkam.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last December, following talks in Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that Russia is willing to help India build "more than" 20 new nuclear power units.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News