India’s Tamil Nadu to complete delayed nuclear plant

March 20, 2012
Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

The state government of Tamil Nadu has given clearance for the Koodankulam nuclear power plant, delayed by local protests and safety concerns, to be completed. Having studied reports completed last month by central government and state expert committees, it has concluded the plant, being developed by Nuclear Power Corporation of India, will be safe.

“The government studied the reports of various expert panels and has come to the conclusion that the plant is safe. We are of the opinion that there is no chance of a massive earthquake or tsunami occurring there,” said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa following a cabinet meeting on Monday.

She asked everyone involved to resume work at the plant so that the first two 1-GW reactors – VVER-1000s from Russia’s Atomstroyexport – can be commissioned. They were originally scheduled to become operation in December 2009 and March 2010 and, when they do come on-line, Koodankulam will be India’s largest nuclear power generating plant to-date.

There are plans are for four more reactors to be built at Koodankulam, bring the plant’s total generating capacity to 6.68-W. If these plans are followed through the new units will be third-generation VVER-1200 (1.17-GW) reactors, covered by inter-governmental agreement signed between India and Russia in December 2008.

People living close to the site of the reactors, located near to the India’s southern-most tip, have long been opposed to the project but businesses in Tamil Nadu and the neighboring state of Kerala, which suffer power shortages, have welcomed the go-ahead decision.

According to the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, more than a million people live within the 30-km radius of Koodankulam, which exceeds the stipulations of the India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. The protesters say it is “quite impossible to evacuate this many people quickly and efficiently in case of a nuclear disaster at Koodankulam."