Kudankulam-II n-plant will go critical on Sunday

Chennai: The second unit of Kudankulam atomic power project in Tamil Nadu is expected to go critical on Sunday, S.K. Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), said on Saturday. "The reactor control rods are being removed. The unit is expected to attain criticality in two days time. Yesterday (Friday) late evening the (48 hour) process for First Approach to Criticality (FAC) was started. We have filed all the necessary reports with the registry of the Supreme Court," S.K.Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director said. Asked about the conduct of off-site emergency safety drill prior to the commissioning of the reactor he said: "The second unit is part of an operating station (site where a nuclear power plant is already functioning). In such cases off-site emergency drills are conducted once in two years." The first 1,000 MW unit of Kudankulam atomic power project, which is located in Tirunelvelli district, is already functional. According to Sharma, there are three types of emergency drills that are done at Indian nuclear power plants: plant, site and off-site. "The emergency drills at the plant are done every quarter and the site emergency drill every year," he said. H.N. Sahu, Station Director of first and second units, said. "As per the legal requirements off-site emergency drills were conducted. The last off-site drill was conducted in January 2015."  Sahu expects the unit to attain criticality between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday. "Commercial generation from the second unit will happen in four-six months' time," he said. For NPCIL, the two units of Kudankulam project are expected to contribute handsomely to its topline and bottom line. The first unit experienced several hiccups since starting commercial production in December 2014 but seems to have stabilised now, generating about 940 MW daily on an average. The first unit supplies power to Tamil Nadu (562.5 MW), Puducherry (33.5 MW), Kerala (133 MW), Karnataka (221 MW) and Andhra Pradesh (50 MW). The total outlay on the two units of Kudankulam project has been over Rs 17,000 crore. Once the second unit at Kudankulam goes critical, the total atomic power capacity in Tamil Nadu would go up to 2,440 MW. Already, the NPCIL has two 220 MW units at Kalkpakkam near here under its Madras Atomic Power Station. Asked about the third and fourth units at Kudankulam, Sharma said orders for the equipment have been placed.