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Nuke sub building blast ‘industrial’: DRDO

- Glare on high-pressure tank, probe team asked to submit report in a week

New Delhi, March 10: The explosion at a nuclear submarine building facility in Visakhapatnam that killed a worker on Saturday was “industrial and not military”, defence research authorities have claimed.

The project is being executed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and is monitored closely by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The DRDO, that is spearheading the nuclear submarine building project, has formed a team that has been asked to give a report in a week.

“We cannot say we can give out full details of what happened and how it happened but we can say that we or the Indian Navy were not responsible for it,” a DRDO official said.

India’s nuclear submarine building project is still in its infancy despite three decades of effort. The first of the three vessels that have been planned, the Arihant, was “launched” in 2012. Its nuclear reactor went critical last August. The submarine is still going through harbour trials. Sea trials, estimated to last 18 months, are expected to begin within weeks.

It is understood that Saturday’s accident was on machinery that was being readied for integration into the second of three nuclear submarines that are in different stages of construction at the Ship Building Centre (SBC) in Visakhapatnam.

The responsibility for that equipment, probably a high-pressure tank, was with Larsen and Toubro, one of the corporate participants in the project, DRDO sources said.

In Chennai today, DRDO director-general Avinash Chander said: “Also, we have to see whether there was a human error which caused this or any equipment. That’s why it will take some time and our team is on the job.”

All equipment that go into the submarine are separately tested on the ground before being integrated.

Defence ministry sources said work at building No. 5 of the SBC, where Saturday’s incident was reported, had been halted. They said there was no sign of contamination at the site because the machinery was not connected to the nuclear reactor.