Chennai, July 1:
Far removed from any protest-din, a nuclear power plant 40 km south of Chennai, is all set to achieving a milestone – loading of liquid sodium. The operators of the nuclear power station, which is half the size of the first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, are awaiting the green signal from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, the country’s nuclear power regulator.
For the 500 MW ‘prototype fast breeding reactor’, loading of 1,750 tonnes of the coolant liquid sodium is practically the last big event before the unit starts generating electricity.
This is an important milestone because nuclear establishments in all countries are watching India’s PFBR, the first plutonium-based fast breeder reactor anywhere in the world.
India could not have built fast breeder reactors earlier. These fast breeders need a lot of Uranium, or Plutonium. The country does not have have huge quantities of Uranium and no other country would give us after the Pokhran-I incident in 1974. Plutonium does not occur in nature, it has to be produced in a nuclear reactor.
So, the country had to wait for four decades to have sufficient stock of Plutonium to fire up the fast breeders.
A senior official of Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd said the PFBR will start producing electricity in 4-5 months, after loading the liquid sodium.
But then, the schedule would entirely depend upon the regulator, AERB who won’t rush through matters as it would want to double check the safety measures.
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