N-plants to have emergency facility

New system to have seismically sound and adequate radiation shielding

The emergency facility would have seismically sound and adequate radiation shielding. It would also have provision for communicating with relevant agencies and obtaining information from all units so as to decide on the future course of action in case of any accident.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India was working on an implementation programme to address all requirements identified by the AERB, including the “emergency facility,” V Narayansamy, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

NPCIL would further update its implementation plan when detailed and chronological data of the Fukushima disaster was available.

Indian nuclear power plants have built-in margins and provisions to withstand extreme natural events, Narayansamy said. India has two old boiling water reactors at Tarapur, which are similar to the ill-fated Japanese reactors.

According to a post-Fukushima analysis by the AERB, cores of both reactors can be cooled up to eight hours in case of station blackout, which means non-availability of electricity and human involvement.

The spent fuel pool in TAPS -1&2 could keep the fuel submerged for at least one week under station blackout condition without any human involvement.

Narayansamy said that the French regulatory authority (ASN) is reviewing Areva’s EPR reactors, which would be followed by a further scrutiny by AERB. The commercial contract to purchase the first two 1650 MW reactors for Jaitapur would be taken only after the review was done.

Other post-Fukushima safety measures include implementation of seismic signal-based automatic reactor trip in all reactor units where it is not yet provided. Seismic switches and sensors located outside the reactor buildings would be protected against any flooding at the site.  Also cooling water inventories would be augmented and plants will increasingly use passive power or battery-operated devices for checking key parameters so as to keep them in a ready condition as a part of the preparedness plan.

“Beyond the negative image, discussions on Fukushima would ultimately benefit the nuclear industry. The expected volume of nuclear reactors in India and China would allow the economies of scale to be achieved in nuclear industry,” Steve Kidd, deputy director general at World Nuclear Association said at an energy conference here.

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