CHENNAI/MASCOW: India paid more for “enhanced security measures” for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) after the 2011 Fukushmia disaster in Japan.
“We had received a request from India for enhanced safety measures. Of course India had to pay more for such kind of system. The Koodankulam plants have four channels of safety system,” said V Asmolov, first deputy general of Rosenergoatom, the Russian nuclear power station operations subsidiary of a state-owned company.
“This can lead to immediate stopping of chain reaction in case of crisis. The system will ensure water supply for cooling of the reactor even if there is a blackout for 24 hours,” Asmolov said. He was speaking at the sidelines of Atom2014 Expo, a conference organised by Rosatom, a Russian state atomic energy body.
Confirming the request, V Kalirajan, additional chief engineer and chairman, Public Awareness Committee, Koodankulam, said various technologies were sought to provide additional safeguards at KKNPP. They included a Passive Heat Removal System (PHRS), hydrogen recombiners to protect the plant from hydrogen explosion - which occurred in the Fukushima Daichi atomic disaster - and core catcher to prevent chain reaction among the radioactive materials if all the safety systems fail.
“The Koodankulam reactor is the first in the world to have a PHRS. We wanted all these enhanced safety measures for the safe operation of the plant,” he said. The PHRS works like a modern kitchen chimney and requires air, instead of water, for correction of heat, he said. Kalirajan said that the plant safety had been enhanced with hydrogen recombiners. Though the Fukushima plant had a hydrogen recombiner, it worked on electricity. In contrast, the recombiner at the Koodankulam plant does not require power supply, he said.
Moreover, the reactor has a core catcher to provide safety in the unlikely event of fuel meltdown. India also has sought double containment reactors. “Usually Russian reactors have single containment to protect against major accidents like steamline breakdown. We wanted them to provide us with double containment,” Kalirajan said.
In Moscow, Russia also indicated that the road map for units 3 and 4 of KKNPP should be ready by July after which work can begin on implementing the General Framework Agreement signed between both countries. “We have just signed the protocol. We are awaiting nod from Indian side...after the India’s overview authority (Atomic energy Regulatory Board) gives its nod. They are also checking seismic activity in the area. So by July we should be ready with a roadmap after which we can start implementing the General Framework Agreement,” S Kirienko, Director General of Rosatom said.
India and Russia signed a GFA on unit 3 and 4 in April this year after crossing the hurdles of the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage Act 2010. The GFA could not be signed in October last year when the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Russia, as Moscow had raised objection over some clauses of the CLND Act.