By Sivakumar Bhatta and Anupam Shinde in ChennaiThe Indian nuclear power sector has come under severe criticism after its plant at Kurukshali in Tamil Nadu became operational on Saturday.
According to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the plant, which is scheduled to be completed in 2021, will have a maximum output of 100 megawatts, which translates to around 50 per cent more power capacity than the maximum output at the plant that was inaugurated in 2007.
Kurukshotel, the largest nuclear power plant in the country, had been expected to be operational for two to three years.
But its completion date was pushed back to 2021.
The DAE said that there was no major issue in its safety, but it had not yet decided on its schedule for restarting the plant.
In August, India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had ordered the AEC to provide all necessary information to the AERB to ensure that a timely and appropriate termination of the reactor was possible and expedited.
The AERG also said that the reactor had failed due to a catastrophic failure of a turbine core and was unable to operate safely due to the high radiation levels inside the reactor.
Kurkeshwari Kuru, an environmental engineer at the Institute of Atomic Research, was among those who spoke out against the AEDB decision.
He told The Hindu that the reactors safety is the responsibility of the AEP, not the AET, which has a mandate to ensure safety.
Kauravashree Natarajan, president of the environmental group Greenpeace, told NDTV that while the AEEB should have issued a public notice, they did not.
“There is no public notice on the reactor yet.
The government has been ignoring the safety issues, she said.
Natarajann added that the government has to take a long-term approach and not a quick-fix one, because the AAEB is already on the verge of issuing its report on the KURUkshotlai plant.
The AERW has been criticized for delaying the reactor’s restart and for having a political agenda to appease the opposition.
The reactor is slated to have a peak output of around 1,000 megawatts.
The DAE had asked the AEO to hold a public hearing before the AEB on June 29, but the AEW and AEP failed to do so.
Natarawati had earlier said that she wanted the AEM to conduct the public hearing on the plant at least four days after the ASEP, in the first instance.
The government has said that it has given a public notification on the issue, but has not yet released any details about the timeline of the restart.
The reactors reactor, however, is scheduled for a scheduled restart by March 2019.