Chennai, Oct 3: The loading of uranium enriched fuel bundles in the first reactor at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) was completed Tuesday, said senior officials of the atomic energy sector.
“Fuel rods have been loaded. This will be followed by several procedures before the atomic energy regulator (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) gives its sanction to close the reactor vessel,” an official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
Confirming that, an industry official told IANS that AERB has to give its sanction to close the reactor vessel before the process towards reactor attaining criticality could be started.
However, senior officials of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) were not available for comments despite several attempts made by IANS.
India’s atomic power plant operator NPCIL is setting up the KNPP at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here, with two Russian-made VVER 1,000 MW reactors.
The sectoral regulator AERB gave its nod to NPCIL to load 163 bundles of enriched uranium fuel in the first reactor at KNPP Sep 18 after the latter complied with all the conditions laid down by the former in its Aug 10 sanction order.
After the reactor is fuelled, activities to approach first criticality-starting fission chain reaction, for the first time in a reactor, will be taken up.
Then the power generation will be gradually scaled up on AERB’s permission, based on the results of various studies.
Observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency are expected at KNPP after the fuel loading is complete as the reactors fall under the safeguard agreement, an official said.
The KNPP is an outcome of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, the project construction only began in 2001.