Fire shuts down Kalpakkam unit

Fire shuts down Kalpakkam unit

The second unit of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) at Kalpakkam, about 80 km from Chennai, has shut down following a “minor” fire.

The MAPS second unit, which had been generating 160 MW, suddenly tripped due to a “fault in the generator transformer” which is in turn believed to be triggered by a “minor” fire in an oil tanker outside the reactor building, official sources said when contacted over telephone on Tuesday.

MAPS Director Koteeshwaran urged people not to panic. After the unit tripped, the second reactor was automatically brought to “cold shutdown stage,” and hence there was no cause for worry or alarm, he said. The fire was quickly put out and the “situation is normal,” he added.

The reason for the fault is being investigated, Koteeshwaran said. The first unit of the nuclear power station is operating normally and generating 170 MW of power, but the loss of generation in the second unit is bound to hit power-starved Tamil Nadu harder in the coming weeks.

The two pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) at MAPS using natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as moderator and coolant, were initially of 225MW capacity each, but were later down-rated to 220 MW capacity each in the early 1990s, it may be recalled here.

The “high voltage bushing” of the generator-transformer was “damaged in the fire” Koteeshwaran said. It will take some time to set right the defects. If the repair that needed to be carried out was outside the transformer then it might take a month, he said.

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