CHENNAI: Russia has defended the delay in commissioning the first and second units of the Kudankulam nuclear plant and said that the construction of light water reactors VVER-1000 was adopted in India for the first time and the construction time was estimated in accordance with a typical project construction time in Russia.
The director of the ASE group of companies, the Engineering and Construction Division of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ‘Rosatom’, Vladimir Angelov said that the VVER-1000 reactors had been adopted in India for the first time and the commissioning of the units took longer than planned according to the initial mobilisation schedule.
“It is natural because initially the NPP construction time was estimated in accordance with a typical project construction time in Russia. Specifics of working in India rather amended the time,” he said.
Interestingly, the first concrete for Unit 1 was poured in March 2002, with that for Unit 2 following four months later. The units were originally scheduled to begin their commercial operation in December 2007 and December 2008 respectively.
Angelov said that work had been postponed for the necessity of gaining experience of joint work of the Indian staff with Russian specialists.
On the issue of safety of the Kudankulam nuclear plant, Angelov said that the nuclear power plant was the first in the world where the post-Fukushima safety enhancement requirements had already been implemented and being operated successfully. “We analysed the basic technical design of Units 1 and 2 in terms of the lessons from Fukushima. We came to the conclusion that they would have withstood a Fukushima-like incident. However, we are enforcing even stricter requirements,” he added.
Interestingly, India has asked Russia to review the possibility of enhancing certain parameters and as a result, Units 3 and 4 are designed for even higher seismic, climatic and technical impact.
The reactor is protected from the impact of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes. According to the justified calculations, the Kudankulam NPP can withstand any anticipated operational occurrences and can even withstand the fall of an aircraft. “Therefore, we can firmly state that presently India possesses the safest NPP in the world”, said Angelov.
Interestingly, the commissioning of the Unit I in Kudankulam paves the way for Russia to build 12 more nuclear reactors in India. This could also mean that Russia would help in localisation of production of fuel in India.