Fast breeder reactor awaits AERB clearance for sodium loading

Chennai, March 26 (IANS) India’s fast breeder reactor company, Bhavini is awaiting clearance from the sectoral regulator for loading of sodium in the secondary loop so as to progress to the next stage of commissioning the power project, said a top company official.

“The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is checking the data submitted by us on the performance of one of sodium cooling loop. The AERB has to give clearance for filling up of the sodium in the second loop,” Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini) chairman and managing director P.Chellapandi told IANS.

According to him, all the plant systems – reactor and turbine side – are ready.

A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes. The prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) will be fuelled by a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide, called MOX fuel.

The government-owned BHAVINI is setting up the country’s first indigenously-designed 500 MW PFBR at Kalpakkam, around 80 km from Chennai.

The Rs.5,400 crore PFBR is presently under advanced stage of commissioning achieving a physical progress of around 98 percent.

Officials, who did not want to be identified, told IANS that AERB is being extra_cautious while studying the data submitted by Bhavini.

Industry officials told IANS that the project is first of its kind in India and further there have been problems at the nuclear plants in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) in Gujarat, both belonging to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.

The first 220 MW unit at KAPS was shut down automatically on March 11 due to heavy water leak in one of its coolant channels. The leak was plugged on March 22 and the plant emergency was lifted only then.

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