SC query on spent fuel in KNPP

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the operator of Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) to tell if it was safe to keep the spent fuel in the plant.

The NPCIL, on the other hand, claimed that the spent fuel was kept in the plant for its re-use. It further claimed the KKNPP was entirely safe and could withstand aircraft crash and terror attack.

A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra also wanted to know  the exact quantity of the residue which could be stored in the plant.
The court was also keen to know as to what was done in other nuclear plants being operated for the last 50 years in the country.

“We want to know how much spent fuel can you store and for how long. After its use, where will it go? What are the safety measures undertaken in its transport,” the bench asked Solicitor General R F Nariman.

“Nuclear plants are functional for 50 years. What is done with it there,” the court asked.Nariman, representing NPCIL, contended that the spent fuel was not a complete waste. It was kept for seven years for cooling, afterward reprocessed and then re-used.

A group of NGOs and activists raised the safety and environment concerns about the plant.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, arguing for them, had claimed that the government was expected to send entire spent fuel to Russia, which was setting up the plant, but the former USSR nation decided not to take it in view of environment danger exposed by the substance.

In order to respond to the court queries, Nariman said that the NPCIL would file an affidavit.

He further said that central government has appointed a 15-member expert group (EG) consisting of members from different fields to analyse and explain the factual position on various aspects of the project. The expert group, in its three reports, claimed “unanimously” that there would be no harm to the marine life from the discharged water.

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