The first nuclear reactor of the country's 21st nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, which attained criticality on Saturday night, is functioning smoothly and all the parametres are normal, a top official said.
"At 2305 hrs (on Saturday night), the first nuclear reactor attained criticality (also known as atomic chain reaction) and all the parametres are normal. Sustained nuclear chain reaction has been achieved. Everything is normal," R S Sundar, site director of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) told PTI.
Overcoming a series of protests and legal hurdles that delayed the commissioning of the plant, the 1000 mw pressurised water Reactor (PWE) finally attained criticality, prompting the nuclear establishment to rejoice the "red letter day."
The Boron Dilution process, witnessed by the top guns of Indian and Russian nuclear establishments, signalled the end of an agonising wait for scientists who could finally heave a sigh of relief as much as the people of the state affected by a near 4000 mw demand-supply gap.
"Great achievement... it is a historic moment every Indian (has) to be proud of... a red-letter day indeed," said J Daniel Chellappa, Senior Scientist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), and Technical Coordinator, Central Expert Group on KKNPP.
The criticality milestone was achieved at 11.05 PM after the "Boron dilution process" allowed neutron concentration to go up and start nuclear fission, generating heat.
Experts from Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, Russian Kursatov Institute of Atomic energy, and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board observers monitored the process.
The reactor will start its initial production of 400 MW electricity within 20 days, Union Minister V Narayanasamy said.
"On Saturday, they started the criticality. Now the reaction of nuclear in the plant has started for the purpose of development of electricity. The production of electricity will be started in next 20 days," Narayanasamy told PTI over phone from his constituency Puducherry