The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on Thursday gave the go ahead for ‘controlled nuclear fission’ at the Russian-built first reactor at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in southern coastal Tirunelveli district.
Technically christened as First Approach to Criticality (FAC), the nod for the controlled fission, a step preceding actual commencement of power production at an atomic plant, has raised hopes of the nuclear establishment starting power generation within 45 days from the first of the two units at the project, which was bogged down by delays due to continuing anti-nuclear protests.
With this, the nuclear fission process would be carried out for the first time at the reactor, signalling that the plant is closer to being commissioned. Following the clearance, a number of low power tests would be carried out in order to verify the conformity of reactor characteristics to design objectives before granting clearance, the AERB said in a release.
“We are happy at the AERB according clearance to the project. We would be required to carry out some internal procedures and power generation could possibly commence in 45 days,” said R S Sundar, KKNPP Site Director.
“It is an important step towards subsequent beginning of power production at the nuclear reactor,” Dr M R Srinivasan, former Atomic Energy Commission chairman told Express. “The clearance is a step away from the reactor attaining criticality. After this, instrumentation checks will be conducted before the final clearance is given,” he added.