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Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

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Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 station currently under construction in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli
Tirunelveli
Tirunelveli , also known as Nellai , and historically as Tinnevelly, is a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the headquarters of the Tirunelveli District and the sixth biggest city in Tamil Nadu...

 district of the southern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n state of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

. Project investment cost to India was estimated to be US$ 3 billion (Rs.13,615 Crores) in a 2001 agreement.

History


An Inter-Governmental Agreement on the project was signed on November 20, 1988 by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Ratna Gandhi was the sixth Prime Minister of India . He took office after his mother's assassination on 31 October 1984; he himself was assassinated on 21 May 1991. He became the youngest Prime Minister of India when he took office at the age of 40.Rajiv Gandhi was the elder son of Indira...

 and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

. The project remained in limbo for 10 years due to political and economic upheaval in Russia after the post-1991 Soviet breakup, and also due to objections of the United States on the grounds that the agreement does not meet the 1992 terms of the Nuclear Suppliers Group
Nuclear Suppliers Group
Nuclear Suppliers Group is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.- History :It was founded in...

 (NSG).

Since the plant was conceived in the mid-1980s, an anti-nuclear group People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy
People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy
The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy is an anti-nuclear power group in Tamil Nadu, India. The aim of the group is to close the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant site and to preserve the largely untouched coastal landscape, as well as educate locals about nuclear power.S P Udayakumar, a...

 was opposing the plant for about 25 years due to the Environmental impact of nuclear power and its threat to the people and environment.

A small port became operational in Kudankulam on January 14, 2004. This port was established to receive barges carrying over sized light water reactor equipment from ships anchored at a distance of 1.5 kilometre (0.93205910497471 mi). Until 2004 materials had to be brought in via road from the port of Tuticorin, risking damage during transportation.

In 2008 negotiation on building four additional reactors at the site began. Though the capacity of these reactors has not been declared, it is expected that the capacity of each reactor will be 1000 MW or 1 GW. The new reactors would bring the total capacity of the power plant to 9200 MW or 9.2 GW.

In June 2011, Sergei Ryzhov, the chief designer of the light water VVER nuclear reactors used at this Nuclear Power Plant was killed in an airplane accident. The plane belonging to the Rus-Air airlines was flying from Moscow to the Karelian capital Petrozavodsk.

Technical description


Two 1 GW reactors of the VVER-1000
VVER
The VVER, or WWER, is a series of pressurised water reactors originally developed by the Soviet Union, and now Russia, by OKB Gidropress. Power output ranges from 440 MWe to 1200 MWe with the latest Russian development of the design...

 model are being constructed by the Nuclear Power corporation of India Limited
Nuclear Power Corporation of India
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is a government-owned corporation of India based in Mumbai. One of the public sector undertakings, it is wholly owned by the Union Government and is responsible for the generation of nuclear power for electricity. NPCIL is administered by the...

 (NPCIL) and Atomstroyexport
Atomstroyexport
Atomstroyexport is the Russian Federation's nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly. It belongs to Atomenergoprom holding with 49.8% of shares owned by Gazprombank...

. When completed they will become the largest nuclear power generation complex in India producing a cumulative 2 GW of electric power. Both units are water-cooled, water-moderated power reactors. The first was scheduled to start operation in December 2009 and the second one was scheduled for March 2010. Currently, the official projections put unit 1 into operation in June 2011, and unit 2 will go in March 2012.

Four more reactors are set to be added to this plant under a memorandum of intent signed in 2008. A firm agreement on setting up two more reactors, has been postponed pending the ongoing talks on liability issues. Under an inter-government agreement signed in December 2008 Russia is to supply to India four third generation VVER-1200 reactors of 1170 MW.

The reactors have some advanced safety features like passive heat removal system
Passive nuclear safety
Passive nuclear safety is a safety feature of a nuclear reactor that does not require operator actions or electronic feedback in order to shut down safely in the event of a particular type of emergency...

, double containment, Core Catcher
Core Catcher
A core catcher is a device provided to catch the molten core material of a nuclear reactor in case of a nuclear meltdown and prevent it from escaping the containment building....

, and hydrogen re-combiner instead of conventional systems.

Controversy



As of October 2011, thousands of protesters and villagers living around the Russian-built Koodankulam nuclear plant in the southern Tamil Nadu state, are blocking highways and staging hunger strikes, preventing further construction work, and demanding its closure as they fear of the disasters like the Environmental impact of nuclear power, Radioactive waste
Radioactive waste
Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...

, nuclear accident similar to the radiation leak in March at Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The protesters have clearly stated few specific reasons for opposing the Koodankulam NPP project.

According to S P Udayakumar, of the voluntary People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy
People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy
The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy is an anti-nuclear power group in Tamil Nadu, India. The aim of the group is to close the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant site and to preserve the largely untouched coastal landscape, as well as educate locals about nuclear power.S P Udayakumar, a...

, "the nuclear plant is unsafe" and "the safety analysis report and the site evaluation study have not been made public. No public hearing was held. It's an authoritarian project that has been imposed on the people." Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha that "all precautions would be taken at the Koodankulam nuclear plant to maintain the highest safety standards".

Protesters claimed that even advanced countries like Germany has decided to shutdown all its 17 Nuclear reactors through which the country gets 23% of its energy.

Gopal Gandhi, Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

, former West Bengal governor also said that Indian Fukushima possible in a lecture on 'India 2021- Hazarding Guesses, Guessing Hazards' in New Delhi)

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has also been filed against the government’s civil nuclear program at the apex Supreme Court. The PIL specifically asks for the "staying of all proposed nuclear power plants till satisfactory safety measures and cost-benefit analyses are completed by independent agencies".

Renowned aeronautical scientist and former President of India
President of India
The President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India, as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. President of India is also the formal head of all the three branches of Indian Democracy - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary...

 A. P. J. Abdul Kalam responded to the protests by claiming that the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant is safe.. However protester Mr S P Udayakumar said that it was a wonder how A. P. J. Abdul Kalam could make such a quick assessment of all the safety aspects of the KNPP, even before he reached Koodankulam, he wrote an article defending the project.. Former IAS officer MG Devasahayam also said that “I wonder as to why the venerable Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is on an emotional overdrive preaching for nuclear power. He compares nuclear disasters with air-crash and missile-launching snags, calls the protesters ignorant cowards and goes to Kudunkulam to proclaim that the nuclear plant is a boon to the locals.".

Protesters also claimed that the Fukushima disaster in which the emergency cooling system itself was damaged by the earthquake, has made it clear that no one can really predict any disaster occurance.

A center panel constituted by the Government of India ,which did a survey of the safety features in the plant,said the Koodankulam reactors are the safest and fears of the people are not based on scientific principles.

See also


  • Nuclear Power Corporation of India
    Nuclear Power Corporation of India
    The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is a government-owned corporation of India based in Mumbai. One of the public sector undertakings, it is wholly owned by the Union Government and is responsible for the generation of nuclear power for electricity. NPCIL is administered by the...


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