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Removal of dummy fuel assemblies begins at Kudankulam

Chennai, May 25 - Working towards commissioning the first unit of the two 1,000- megawatt Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in August, scientists Friday removed one assembly of the dummy fuel from the reactor vessel, an official said.

"We have removed one assembly out of the 163 dummy fuel assemblies today (Friday). In four-five days, the entire dummy fuel would be taken out and then inspections will be carried out," R.S. Sundar, site director at the KNPP, told IANS over phone.

Dummy fuel is similar to the real fuel in terms of specifications but without the enriched uranium.

A team of nuclear experts from HRID Ltd, Croatia along with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) scientists will inspect the reactor pressure vessel and other systems. Following this, the reports would have to be submitted to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) which in turn would decide on giving its consent for loading the real fuel.

After that, permission has to be sought to increase the power generation in stages till the full capacity can be reached.

A team of Croatian experts is already at the KNPP and another team is expected next week, Sundar said.

India's atomic power plant operator NPCIL is building two reactors with Russian equipments at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here.

On May 10, the NPCIL got the permission to open the reactor pressure vessel of the first unit and the work towards that began soon after that.

The first unit was to become operational last December but hit a hurdle when residents of surrounding villages opposed the project fearing for their lives and the state government passed a resolution urging the central government to stop all project-related works. To resolve the issue, the central and state governments set up two panels.

The central panel submitted its final report Jan 31. The Tamil Nadu government set up an expert committee, which too favoured the project.

In March this year, the state government gave its green signal to the project and also announced Rs.500 crore for local area and infrastructure development. Following that, work at KNPP was restarted.

The anti-KNPP agitators under the banner of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy have demanded safety drills for locals before commissioning of the reactor.


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