India's N-plants placed under safety scanner

“The Department of Atomic Energy and Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) have been instructed to undertake an immediate technical review of all safety systems of our nuclear power plants particularly with a view to ensuring that they would be able to withstand the impact of large natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informed both Houses of Parliament on Monday.

Singh said Indian nuclear plants in the past had met their safety standards. During the Bhuj earthquake in 2002, the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station operated safely without interruption.

During the 2004 tsunami, Madras Atomic Power Station was safely shutdown without any radiological consequences even though water entered into the residential complex. The Prime Minister said work was underway in the Department of Atomic Energy towards further strengthening of India’s national nuclear safety regulatory authority.

The NPCIL is currently operating 20 nuclear power plants, of which 18 are indigenous pressurised heavy water reactors while two reactors at Tarapur, made by General Electric, are the same type of reactors as being operated in Japan.

A safety audit of these reactors has been completed recently, Singh said.
An NPCIL official said that the safety of the Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) plants was reanalyzed few years ago and reviewed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. Following this, the two BWRs at Tarapore Atomic Power Stations 1 and 2 have been renovated and upgraded with safety features. The pressurised heavy water reactors are of different design than that of BWR and have multiple, redundant and diverse shutdown systems as well as cooling water systems.

On the fate of Indians stranded in Japan, Singh said there were about 25,000 Indians in Japan and most of them were not living in the areas affected by the tsunami. About 70 Indians are in the temporary shelters established by Japanese authorities.
The prime minister assured that the government was not only ready to send search and rescue teams and relief material to Japan, but also ready to chip in with the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction phase.
DH News Service

‘Kaiga plant safe’
The Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant has been designed to withstand earthquakes or any other form of natural disasters. Hence, the people need not panic, said Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant Site Director J P Gupta, reports DHNS from Karwar.

 Gupta said in Mallapur on Monday that the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant falls under Zone III, which is safe and less seismic prone area. Moreover, the Kaiga nuclear reactors are located at 50 km away from the Arabian sea. Even if an earthquake hits the region, there is no danger of radiation leak, explained Gupta.

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