Team ready to inspect shutdown reactor at Kakrapar Atomic Power Station

Chennai, March 12 (IANS) A team of inspectors are expected to inspect the first 220MW reactor at Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) that shut down on March 11 morning due to a leak in the coolant system, said a top official at the plant site.

“Today (Saturday), we may make the entry into the reactor building and identify the location of the leak. We are in the process of starting the process of accessing the building,” L.K. Jain, site director, KAPS told IANS over phone.

“We are maintaining the core cooling. There is no increase in the radiation levels. Moving forward, we have to locate the spot of the leak,” Jain said.

Agreeing that it is not a small leak, he said investigation has to be made as to its cause.

“All of us are relieved as there is no increased radioactivity inside and outside the premises,” Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) chairman Shiv Abhilash Bhardwaj told IANS over phone.

“The reactor is stable from safety point of view and theoretically the inspection team can get inside the reactor building to make their study,” he added.

However he said AERB will leave the inspection decision to the plant officials and will not interfere in their decision making process.

“Now things are under control and the situation at the KAPS unit is almost normal. The leak has not been isolated and the cooling of the reactor continues. The reactor safety systems have cooled down,” AERB secretary S.Harikumar told IANS.

However it is not known when the atomic power plant will against start operations.

“AERB needs to understand what failed and why it failed,” Harikumar said.

It is learnt that closed circuit television images of the reactor building is not visible or clear.

The inspection team has to don special dress and safety gear before they enter the reactor building.

Meanwhile in a statement the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace urged the plant operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to ensure protection of the workers at KAPS who are involved in cleaning up the spilled heavy water.

“By its very nature, some of the heavy water that is in the primary coolant circuit would have been absorbed neutrons to be converted into tritiated water. Tritium is a radioactive isotope and thus the tritiated water will be automatically radioactive,” the statement added.

AERB has asked KAPS to keep the unit under shutdown till the incident is investigated and corrective action is taken.

KAPS is part of Indian atomic power plant operator NPCIL.

The company has two 220 MW units there but the second unit is under shut down since July 2015.

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