Even as anti-nuclear activists and villagers continue their agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy R.K. Sinha said nuclear fuel loading for the first unit of the plant is underway and it is not facing any technical issues.

Sinha was talking to the media at the India Nuclear Energy summit in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Without giving a date on when the unit would be able to provide power to the grid, due to a pending Supreme Court litigation, Sinha added that the unit would progressively reach ‘criticality’ stage.

Regulatory officials from the Atomic Energy Regulator Board are present at the Kudankulam site and are monitoring all safety systems, he added.

Criticality is the penultimate stage in a nuclear power unit, after which electricity can be produced safely.

Four reactors by 2017

He said currently, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) is building seven reactors, of which four would be completed by 2017. NPCIL does not see any difficulties in setting up nuclear power plants, other than land acquisition and providing compensation for people who have given land for the projects, he added.

On the pending 10,000-MW Jaipur nuclear project, Sinha said the final technical and commercial agreement for the project is under negotiations with French supplier Areva. A definite agreement could be reach in a couple of months, he said.

Earlier, while addressing delegates at the summit, Sinha said that due to new discoveries, India’s uranium resources have been augmented by about 70 per cent in the last five years. However, commercial operation of some of the new mines is delayed, he added.

The Tummalapalle uranium mine in Andhra Pradesh, which has one the largest uranium resources in the country, has started producing uranium ore in small quantities. It would soon commence full commercial operations, he said.

rahul.wadke@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 25, 2012)
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