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Reactor Pressure Vessel of KKNPP unit 3 to be installed soon

The third reactor of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) is all set to cross a major milestone within a week as the 322-tonne Reactor Pressure Vessel will be installed shortly. The unit is a 200 mm-thick specially made steel container, which will hold nuclear fuel when the reactors operate and function as one of the several barriers preventing leak of radioactive material.

As the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) that enforces the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, to ensure radiological safety has given its nod for the ‘major equipment erection’, the KKNPP has planned to install the 11.23-metre-tall Reactor Pressure Vessel within a week, highly placed sources in Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the project proponent, told The Hindu on Thursday.

The NPCIL, operating 2 X 1,000 MWe VVER (pressurised light water reactor) with Russian technical knowhow at the KKNPP, is constructing four more reactors with similar capacity to make it the biggest nuclear park of the country.

After the ‘first pouring of concrete’ (raft concreting) was done in June 2017, the construction of KKNPP units 3 and 4, which will be completed on a total outlay of ₹39,747 crore, has crossed 65%. Though it was originally planned to take unit 3 to criticality stage in March 2023 and unit 4 a year later, the slowdown in completing the construction as per schedule is expected to delay commissioning of these reactors.

The sources said excavation for constructing ‘Away From Reactor’ facility for units 3 and 4 had been completed and construction of this facility for storing spent fuel generated from these two units would commence shortly.

On the progress of the construction of reactors 5 and 6, which are being built at ₹49,621 crore since the ‘first pouring of concrete’ in June 2021, the sources said around 10% of the work had been completed.

“After the concretisation of foundation work is completed, the structure has now reached the earth’s surface,” they said. While reactor 5 is expected to generate electricity in December 2026, unit 6 will be ready for operation in September 2027.

The sources admitted that the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, and the economic sanctions imposed by the West would have a negative impact on supply of components for reactors 3, 4, 5 and 6. When asked if it would substantially delay the commissioning of these projects and escalate the project cost, the sources said, “It’s quite obvious”.

Source: The Hindu