INDIA | Fukushima slows pace of N-power addition

Posted on June 16, 2011

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INDIA | BUSINESS STANDARD | June 16, 2011, 0:36 IST

No change in size or schedule, but designs & negotiations being reviewed for safety add-on.

The aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear power setback in Japan has delayed some of the plans for atomic energy projects in India.

There has been no scaling down on the proposed nuclear capacity addition plans, of going up to 63,000 Mw capacity by 2032. However, there has been review, modification and upgrades of emergency preparedness and safety applications.

One delay has been on the signing of the final works contract between Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) and Areva, the French nuclear major, for the supply of two reactors of 1,650 Mw each for the Jaitapur project in Maharashtra. The plan was to sign the final works contract this month. This is now expected only after September.

Further, the present review and their reports have impacted NPC’s negotiations with Westinghouse, GE-Hitachi and the Russian Federation for supply of reactors. The talks are at a preliminary stage and would pick up pace only after clarity on the revision in safety and security applications.

NPC chairman and managing director S K Jain told Business Standard: “There will be add-on in the design for Jaitapur on emergency preparedness and safety applications, following reports from international agencies and also by a committee formed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).”

An NPC official, who did not want to be identified, said the French nuclear regulator had asked Areva to carry out a safety evaluation of the evolutionary pressurised reactors (EPRs) to be supplied for Jaitapur. “There will not be any change in the design of the reactors or in the hardware. But there will be addition to the safety applications. No government can sign any agreement when such crucial reviews in the wake of Fukushima are in progress,” he noted.

Areva India chairman and managing director Arthur de Montalembert said, “Discussions are currently on,” without divulging details.

AERB secretary, R Bhattacharya, said the body would come into the picture only after NPC gave all project documents. “The AERB-appointed committee will give its interim report by the end of July. AERB is not involved in the agreement between NPC and Areva. However, once AERB gets all documents, it will carry out a detailed safety review.”

NPC’s negotiations with Westinghouse for supply of reactors for 1,000 MW are on. The company is expected to supply these for a proposed nuclear plant in Gujarat. GE-Hitachi is expected to supply similar-size reactors for a proposed project in Andhra Pradesh. The talks with Russia are on for the units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

Jain said a committee appointed by the Union ministry of environment and forests was assessing design capabilities and emergency preparedness at Kudankulam and Kalpakkam, also in Tamil Nadu. The committee’s report is expected soon.

NPC is also preparing a project each at Haripur, West Bengal, for 1,000 Mw, for 2,800 Mw in Haryana and 1,400 Mw in Madhya Pradesh.

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