NPCIL has sought to reassure a group of scientists who had raised concerns over the safety of Kudankulam nuclear power project (KNPP), saying all equipment installed there has undergone multi-stage quality checks. Sixty scientists, most of them from state-run research institutions, had written letters to the Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, voicing concern over the quality of components and equipment used in the KNPP.
"The components and equipment installed in KNPP have undergone multi-stage quality checks ... through well proven and approved chemical, mechanical, non-destructive testing techniques like radiography, ultrasonic testing etc. at various stages to assure meeting of quality and safety standards," the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd said.
It said the KNPP units have appropriate design provisions for in-service inspection of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) during its operation.
Executive Director of NPCIL, Nalinish Nagaich made these clarifications in letters to each of the sixty scientists who had raised concerns over safety of the KNPP, which is set to be commissioned next month.
He said periodic inspection of RPV and its internals and such other components during operation is a mandatory regulatory requirement and indeed, an internal part of plant operation.
"... and accordingly adequate and appropriate provisions to carry out the inspections using automatic and remotely operated specialised inspection tools have been ensured," he said.
The scientists had contended that inspection of components housed inside the RPV would not be possible due to the high radiation field once the reactor is commissioned.
Nagaich said four faulty valves detected during the integrated commissioning tests have already been replaced.
"The inspection of the components and equipment in Kudankulam reactors, including that of the RPV and internals (components located inside the RPV) have been carried out for their quality and performance checks at various stages -- from material selection, manufacturing, installation, and during commissioning tests -- in line with the laid down quality checks and procedures," he said.
The scientists had contended that the safety concerns regarding KNPP were compounded after Sergei Shutov, procurement director of Zio-Podolsk, was arrested by Russian authorities on corruption charges for having sourced cheaper sub-standard steel to manufacture components.
The petitioners include scientists from Indian Institute of Science, IIT Bombay and Madras, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and DAE-supported Harish-Chandra Research Institute among others.