CHENNAI: While Indian nuclear scientists are working towards 100 per cent risk proof nuclear reactors, a top Russian nuclear scientist says no nuclear plant in the world is risk proof.
Admitting to technical glitches in the first atomic power unit's turbine at Koodankulam, leading nuclear expert as well as professor and reader from Russian Federal University Nuclear Energy department Oleg Tashlykov told reporters that it was a positive sign that before something could have happened the unit was stopped.
He said it was good that before the commercial launch of the reactor the defect was detected and rejected accusations on the safety of VVER atomic reactors. He said when the reactor is introduced in another country, it undergoes one year trial before starting the commercial operations.
He said the reactor has safety system in place to prevent bigger accidents. His statement comes in the wake of the components of the turbine of the first unit of Koodankulam suffered technical glitches. Currently, the reactor has started functioning. He also said the lifespan of Koodankulam reactor is 40 years before being decommissioned. But it also has features where the lifespan of the reactor could be increased by another 20 years by further development.
Michael J Gorbatov, vice consul of Consulate general of Russia and director of Russian Centre of Science and Culture said that there are no zero risk projects in the world. He said that Tamil Nadu could become a major producer of nuclear power in the country with the addition of more nuclear plants.
He also said that Russia is against the liability clause as it was not there when the agreement was signed. “This will make the deal expensive for Russia,” he said.
However, he said in India there has been no large catastrophe in the last 20 years and after Fukushima incident the risks have been taken into consideration.
To a query on Germany phasing out nuclear reactors post Fukushima incident, Tashlykov said that renewable energy like solar is still costly. Nuclear energy is still affordable. “Nearly 30 per cent of power needs of Russia are met through nuclear energy. Even France is planning to add new reactors. He Fukushima incident has not changed the global plans for nuclear power development,” he said.
He also said that usually Russia takes back the spent fuel from the countries where it has set its reactor. He said that Russia has 200 tonnes of nuclear waste which is being kept in temporary shelters. “We are looking at a new site before 2030 so that we can store the nuclear waste,” he said. He said 96 per cent of the spent fuel from the VVER reactor is reused while the four per cent is stored in a glass.
Interestingly, Russia is in awe of India’s fast breeder nuclear technology. “We were quite surprised by the development in India. India is the leader in fast breeder technology. It is a crucial part of India’s nuclear strategy,” said the nuclear scientist. Russian plans to add 15 nuclear reactors by 2030 besides building 30 new reactors globally.