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All Indian nuclear plants pass stress tests: AEC

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Oct 17, IRNA -- In a reinforcement of nuclear safety in India, all atomic power plants have 'passed' stress tests ordered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident.

'Indian reactors have passed the stress tests ordered after Fukushima,' Atomic Energy Commission(AEC) Chairman Srikumar Banerjee told a group of reporters here today.

The stress tests, which are a combination of simulated quake events on the design of a nuclear plant, were ordered by Singh to address issues of safety of the country's atomic plants in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in March.

Seeking to allay apprehensions on the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu, he said the Indo-Russian joint venture was the safest unit of its type built anywhere in the world.

'Kudankulam plant will be a showpiece for Russian nuclear industry themselves. There is not a single VVER-type nuclear reactor which has such an array of safety features,' Banerjee said.

However, he admitted that the nuclear establishment did goof up in reaching out to the locals at Kudankulam which was one of the factors responsible for the current agitation.

'I can definitely admit that there were gaps in public awareness. At the same time, I would like to say that the whole event (agitation) is not just because of the gap,' Banerjee said.

He said there were some 'strong opportunists' that were taking advantage of the situation.

'There are some opportunists who have taken advantage of the situation. The strong anti-nuclear lobby got its big strength because of the Fukushima event,' Banerjee said.

Banerjee said the NPCIL was planning to commission the Kudankulam plant in September-October but the agitation has pushed back the timelines.

'We are looking at commissioning the plant next month. We can hope so,' he said.

Officials said that the public outreach programme of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) did not cover the Indinthakarai village which has become the epicentre of the anti-KNPP agitation.

'It was a big mistake in public outreach,' they said.

The Prime Minister has now ordered a group of experts to be sent to the region to address the 'legitimate concerns' of the locals about the nuclear project which could have been commissioned this month but for the agitation.

Apparently, concerns were raised about the project when the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which has built the plant, failed to convey to the local population about the 'hot-run' being conducted last month, officials said.

The plant let out huge amount of steam at the completion of the 'hot-run' which made a loud sound that is believed to have caught the locals unawares.

'Nobody would like exploding reactors in the neighbourhood,' officials said, adding that this could have been the trigger for the protests.

This was followed by an evacuation drill, which is one of the prerequisites before starting a nuclear power plant, to show that there were systems in place to handle a possible emergency, they said.

'This demonstration experiment was going on and because of Fukushima there was some mis-information,' the officials said.

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Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30617356



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