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'Kudankulam plant two steps away from going critical'

October 19, 2012 16:44 IST

India's first 1000 MW atomic power plant built with Russian collaboration at Kudankulam is just two steps away from going critical, a top official said on Friday.

"We are on a very smooth path now. We have completed fuel loading and the nuclear regulator is carrying out a review," Shiv Abhilash Bhardwaj, Director (Technical), Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), said.

He was talking to reporters here on the sidelines of the India Energy Forum meet.

Bhardwaj said after the review by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, the NPCIL will be granted permission to close the reactor pressure vessel.

Loading of 163 bundles of enriched uranium fuel into the reactor began on September 19 and was completed on October 2.

"We have two more steps to attain first criticality. First the reactor will be closed after clearance from the AERB which will be followed by pressure tests," Bhardwaj said.

He said pressure and temperature inside the reactor would be increased artificially in a gradual manner to rule out any discrepancies.

"Once it is okay, we are ready to go critical," Bhardwaj said adding that utmost care is taken at every step as it is for the first time a 1000 MW reactor built with foreign collaboration is being commissioned in the country.

Asked whether the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project would be commissioned around the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin likely on November 1, he said, "We are not working on timelines. We are working on steps."

"Very shortly," he said when asked when the remaining steps in commissioning the plan would be completed.

Commissioning of the first unit of the Indo-Russian project was originally scheduled for December last year, but has been delayed due to protests.

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