Study needed before setting up new nuclear power parks: Scientist


Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu): A detailed study on the nuclear reactor design, regulations and crisis management measures should be done before setting up new nuclear reactor clusters, a top Indian nuclear scientist said Saturday.

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“It is now a hot area where science and technology should be considered. The design of reactors and the regulatory environment should be studied in detail. Similarly, the crisis management measures should also be studied in depth since the impact of failure of one reactor is different from that of multiple reactor failures,” Baldev Raj, director of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), told reporters in Kalpakkam, around 50 km from Chennai.

Not only new nuclear clusters, but also existing ones need to be studied in the wake of nuclear reactor accident that happened in Japan recently, he suggested.

The Indian government has proposed to build a mega nuclear reactor cluster in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, setting up six 1,650 MW reactors developed by Areva of France. Once completed, Jaitapur will be the largest nuclear power complex in the world.

That apart, the Indian nuclear establishment has decided to build nuclear reactor parks in other places for setting up imported as well as indigenous reactors.

Speaking about the safety features of the IGCAR developed fast breeder reactors (FBR), Baldev Raj, who retired Saturday and has been replaced by S.C. Chetal, said the reactors do not need water to cool the core.

According to him, the upcoming 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) has active and passive features and the reactor can be shut down immediately.

Even if all control and safety rods (CSR) and one diverse safety rod (DSR) fail, or if all DSR two CSRs fail, the reactor can be shut down within one second, he said. The IGCAR designed fast reactors has nine CSRs and three DSRs.

Baldev Raj said the Fukushima nuclear reactor blast in Japan happened because of an unlikely combination of several factors like loss of power source and loss of sea water source to cool the reactor core as well the spent fuel.

He said the nuclear industry across the world learns valuable lessons from such accidents and the lessons from the Fukushima accident are being incorporated in Indian reactors.

According to K.Ramamurthy, station director, Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), a committee has studied additional safety measures that need to be taken in the wake of Fukushima accident.

He said some of the suggestions made are having a mobile power unit and emergency water tanks for cooling of the reactor core, if needed.