‘India has agreed on a site for second Russian n-project’

New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) India has agreed to allot a site for a second Russian-built nuclear power plant in the country after Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, according to a senior official of Russia’s atomic energy corporation.

Evgeni Griva, director general of Rosatom (South Asia), who has just taken charge of his post in Mumbai, told IANS in an interview during a visit here that India has agreed on allocating a site for a second nuclear power project in India by Rosatom.

“An agreement has been reached on the allocation by the Indian party of one more site for the construction of six new nuclear reactors of Russian design,” Griva said. “We hope to get more detailed information about the site as soon as possible,” he said.

The Russian official said this was as per the agreement between both countries on nuclear cooperation reached in December 2014, which provides for Rosatom setting up nuclear plants at various locations in the country in the future.

Four reactors are envisaged for Kudankulam, the first of which is already operaional, while the second is to be commissioned later this year. The construction units 3 and 4 has been delayed owing to doubts amonng foreign suppliers about India’s nuclear damage liability laws.

Griva said the contract for delivering equipment for units 3 and 4 had been signed and initial permits obtained.

“On September 7, 2015, Atomenergomash Holding, the power plant division of Rosatom, signed the comprehensive delivery contract for reactor equipment for power units 3 and 4,” Griva said.

“The permit for excavation works and foundation pit preparation has now been obtained from the Indian regulatory body,” he said.

“The first and most important contract has also been signed – the delivery contract of long-lead equipment and priority delivery equipment from the Russian Federation. Besides, the top priority design is practically completed,” he added.

The Indian government last year launched an insurance pool of Rs.1,500 crore ($220 million) which is mandatory under the country’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLND).

Clauses in the CLND Act, which give the operator the right to recourse against suppliers in case of accident, provoked concern among industry and led to the creation of the insurance pool.

Under the pool, set up by state-run General Insurance Corp and other non-life state-run insurers including New India, Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and United India Insurance, as well as private insurers, policies offered will be a nuclear operators liability insurance policy and a nuclear suppliers’ special contingency (against right to recourse) insurance policy.

On the second unit at Kudankulam, Griva said its assembly had been compkleted.

“The hot-run stage is completed. The physical launch is scheduled by the Indian party (Nuclear Power Corporation of India) for mid-2016,” he said.

Noting that the operational first unit at Kudankulam had already generated close to 7,000 million units of electricity, Griva said: “This is the world’s first nuclear power plant which has implemented and successfully operated the tightened security measures post-Fukushima.”

The Kudankulam nuclear power plant is equipped with state-of-the-art safety mechanisms with unique features that make them foolproof.

In an interview to IANS earlier, Denis Kolchinskiy, chief project engineer of SPbAEP, the developers of the AES 92 nuclear reactor installed at Kudankulam, had said modern Russian designs – developed over a decade – have an optimised balance of active and passive safety systems to provide two layers of protection.

The key to preventing an apocalypse in the event of a core meltdown, said Kolchinskiy, is the “molten-core catcher” – a mandatory safety system included in the Kudankulam project’s basic supply package.

(Biswajit Choudhury can be reached at biswajit.c@ians.in)

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