Nuclear Power Corporation to clarify on Kudankulam N-plant cabling
A small team of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) officials has been tasked with preparing clarifications on the issues raised by a former atomic sector regulator about the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).
"I do not have anything to say on the issues raised by A. Gopalakrishnan (former chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board - AERB). I am told that a team is working on preparing the clarifications," KNPP site director R.S. Sundar told IANS over the phone.
Despite attempts by IANS for the past several days seeking clarifications on Gopalakrishnan's charges, no NPCIL officials in the corporate office, including its chairman and managing director, were available for comments.
The NPCIL is setting up the project in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from Chennai, with two Russian-made reactors of 1,000-MW each.
The issue of "improper cabling" comes after NPCIL and AERB recently admitted that four faulty valves were replaced by KNPP in the first unit as they were not performing as per design specifications.
"We will prove ourselves by commissioning the plant successfully," Sundar said.
In an article published in an English daily June 19, Gopalakrishnan piecing information available in the public domain said that there are "spurious signals of untraced origin appearing in many of the instrumentation cables of paramount importance to safety, like the reactor neutron chamber output lines, wiring of the safety and shut-off rod control systems, etc."
According to Gopalakrishnan, the cabling system in KNPP as completed today is not in confirmation with the norms and standards of cable selection, electro magnetic interference (EMI) shielding or layout as per Russian, Indian or any other standards.
"The NPCIL officials did sound out faculties in some engineering colleges in Southern Tamil Nadu for solution for this problem," V. Prakash, an anti-nuclear activist and a college professor told IANS.
However, Sundar denied NPCIL sounding out engineering colleges for a solution.
According to Prakash, cabling work at KNPP's first unit was completed only after breaking open the reactor containment walls and resealing it.
He cites AERB's annual report 2009-10 which states new cable routes have been created to take care of additional cables required for normal operation of the plant as these were not accounted in the earlier design.
Prakash said AERB's annual report for 2010-11 states that NPCIL was asked to submit detailed response to its various observations on cable layout along with the justification for deviations from established procedures.
He said the relaying of missed cables involved breaking open of the containment lining of stainless steel as well as the double concrete containment to prevent spread of radiation outside the reactor.
Prakash said the reliability of instrumentation systems is of vital importance in a nuclear reactor as the readings should be accurate.
He said as per his information spurious signal/interference occurred in the instrumentation cables affecting the information sent by the sensors in the field to communicate about the state of the plant to the Control and Instrumentation system.
"NPCIL personnel scouted to find experts who could solve this issue. All this was heard in mid February 2013 well after the completion of insertion of fuel rods in the reactor by October 2, 2012," Prakash said.
He wondered how AERB gave its permission to load the fuel in the reactor or for the hot run -test run of the reactor-without checking out the performance of the control and instrumentation systems and the valves.
The NPCIL recently shifted the commissioning of KNPP's first unit to July instead of end June without giving any reasons.
Meanwhile, the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) protesting against KNPP Saturday announced that it would organize a black flag demonstration at Idinthakarai Sunday to oppose the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to India, demanding the abrogation of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
(Posted on 22-06-2013)