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Kudankulam reaches full power

June 7: Engineers today raised the power output of India’s biggest nuclear reactor to its full capacity, generating 1,000MW for the first time since it became operational last July.

Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) engineers in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, began injecting water into the reactor’s core last evening to dilute a solution of boric acid. By 1.20pm today, they had gradually raised the power from 900MW to 1,000MW, senior NPC officials said.

The reactor, the first of two 1,000MW Russian-designed commercial reactors, has delivered more than 1,900 million units of electricity to the southern grid since October, the officials said.

One unit of electricity is consumed by a 1,000 Watt air-conditioner in an hour of operation. The cumulative electricity delivered is, NPC officials said, roughly equivalent to what Tamil Nadu consumes during a week.

“This is a significant milestone for this reactor, and greatly satisfying to all of us here,” Ramaiah Shanmugam Sundar, a mechanical engineer who is director of the Kudankulam nuclear power station, told The Telegraph.

Since the reactor was activated with a controlled, self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction last July, engineers had steadily increased the power to 50 per cent of its capacity, then to 75 per cent and, by early May, to 90 per cent.

At each stage of the increase in power output, station engineers had been conducting tests on the reactor and its equipment and submitting their observations to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the nation’s watchdog on nuclear safety issues.

Last evening, the NPC initiated the process of raising the reactor’s power output to 100 per cent after the AERB’s nod.

Sundar said NPC staff would observe the behaviour of the reactor and its equipment while it operates at full power over the next few days. They will submit the observational data again to the AERB for clearance to begin commercial operations at 1,000MW. At full power, the reactor generates 24 million units a day.

The first unit at Kudankulam is India’s 20th commercial nuclear reactor, and takes the country’s installed nuclear capacity to 5,780MW. The second reactor at Kudankulam is expected to become operational later this year.

Jaitapur protest

The Shiv Sena today revived its opposition to the proposed 9,900MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Park in Konkan and demanded the project be scrapped considering the local people’s objections.

A Sena team met Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar and handed over a memorandum.

The Sena had been opposing the project since 2010 when it received a conditional environmental clearance. It has staged violent protests at the site in Ratnagiri district.

State BJP leader Vinod Tawade accompanied the Sena team. He said Javadekar had promised to take the matter up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.