Chennai : Opposing the setting up of the ‘Away From Reactor’ (AFR) or spent fuel storage facility at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, former Union Minister and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader, Anbumani Ramadoss on Thursday said people’s lives are more important than atomic power reactors.
The Tamil Nadu government should not make any compromise on the safety of people and should reject projects that threaten the state’s safety, Ramadoss added.
He said the Tamil Nadu government should not succumb under pressure from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to extend support for the construction of AFR.
The NPCIL has two 1,000 MW nuclear plants (units 1 and 2) at Kudankulam, while four more are under construction (units 3, 4, 5 and 6).
All the six units are built with Russian technology and equipment supplied by their integrated nuclear power operator, Rosatom.
Rosatom has already started supplying equipment for nuclear reactor units 3-6.
Responding to a question raised by DMK Lok Sabha MP, T.R. Baalu in January, Union Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh said the India-Russia inter-governmental agreement of 2010 facilitates storage and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel generated at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).
“India has adopted a ‘closed fuel cycle’ where spent nuclear fuel is regarded as a material of resource,” he added.
“Given the small quantity of high level waste generated post-reprocessing and technologies for separation, partitioning and burning of waste being developed by the country, there is no need of deep underground geological disposal facility in the near future,” the Union Minister said.
On the issue of construction of a spent fuel storage facility at the KNPP, Singh added, “The scheme of storage of spent (used) fuel in a nuclear power plant is two-fold. The first place of storing spent fuel is located within the reactor or service building, generally known as the spent fuel storage pool or bay and the other is called the AFR spent fuel storage facility within the plant premises.”
He said these facilities are designed with a comprehensive approach to safety to withstand extreme natural events like earthquakes and tsunamis with provisions of large operational safety margins for safe, sound and reliable performance.
“These are designed to ensure that there would be no adverse impact on plant personnel, common man or the environment. AFRs are already constructed and functional at other sites like Tarapur, Maharashtra, and Rawatbhata, Rajasthan,” Singh added.
Major parties in the state like the DMK, AIADMK, PMK etc are opposed to the construction of AFR.
The NPCIL has issued a tender for construction of AFR at Kudankulam for the third and fourth nuclear power units.
According to NPCIL, the last date for the submission of the bids is February 24 and the bids will be opened on the same day.
The NPCIL had earlier extended twice the last date for bid submission.
Meanwhile, NPCIL Chairman and Managing Director, Bhuwan Chandra Pathak may meet Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, V. Irai Anbu in March.
Sources told IANS that it will be a courtesy visit by the new NPCL CMD and discussions would be held on the state power utility’s dues to the power generator and may also be about the AFR construction.