In a major achievement ahead of power production at Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), its first unit attained criticality late on Saturday night. “The plant achieved criticality at 11.05 pm,” R S Sunder, site director of KKNPP told Express.
Attaining criticality is a crucial stage ahead of full commissioning of the plant. The unit-I will be synchronised to the southern grid with around 400 MW power within 30 to 45 days from criticality.
Earlier in the day, R K Sinha, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India, told reporters at Koodankulam that the first approach to criticality was started at 11.49 pm on Thursday night after conforming to all norms. “The neutron multiplication in the reactor core started at around noon on Saturday and is progressing further in line as expected with dilution of the boric acid in the primary coolant water,” Sinha had said.
A team of AERB, NPCIL and Russian specialists (Kurchatoy Institute) are supervising the whole process, said Sinha.
In the subsequent stages, the AERB team would monitor the procedures. After completion of procedural and regulatory requirements, power will be increased in steps of 50 per cent, 75 percent, 90 per cent and 100 per cent.
Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had submitted their reports to the Supreme Court recently. The final clearance had been obtained from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board based on the reports of observers’ team, safety review committees.
The power produced at unit-1 of Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project will add 1,000 MW electricity to the southern grid and increase the contribution from the nuclear power to 5,780 MW. The second unit would be commissioned after an eight-month gap from the commencement of first unit. For the third and fourth units, the diplomatic negotiations are going on.
NPCIL Chairman and Managing Director K C Purohit said the approximate cost of per unit of power produced at the KKNPP would be around `3.
G Nageswara Rao, Director, Operations, NPCIL and R Banerjee, Project Director apart from Sundar were present at the press meet.