The first criticality at Kudankulam NPP, which is being built with the Russian assistance in the south of India, will happen before the end of summer this year, Director General of ROSATOM Sergey Kirienko told journalists on Tuesday.
“The first criticality is a lengthy process, but according to the international standard, the first criticality program begins when the first fuel assembly is put in the reactor pressure vessel. If everything goes as planned, the first criticality program at Kudankulam NPP will start before the end of summer this year. The first power unit of the plant must start operation,” Kirienko said.
The head of ROSATOM accompanies on this trip to India Dmitri Rogozin, the Deputy Chairman of the Government of Russia and Co-Chairman of the Russian-Hindu Intergovernmental Commission.
Earlier reports said that the first criticality at Kudankulam NPP might happen in the beginning of August.
“The exact date of start-up is to be determined by our Indian partners. The adjustment and start-up of the plant are done by the Indian specialists and the Russian ones assist them; all equipment has been supplied, all documentation is available. The work progresses well,” Kirienko noted.
“The negotiations on the construction of the third and fourth units are rather active. The Indian side asked to make technical changes in the project. This needs specifying the technical and commercial offer,” Kirienko also said.
Kudankulam NPP is built in India in the framework of the agreement of November 20, 1988 and its addendum of June 21, 1998. The customer is the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, Ltd. The construction process was started in 2002 under the management of the Russian company Atomstroyexport. Within Phase One of the plant two power units with VVER-1000 reactors of a total power capacity of 2,000 MW have been nearly completed.
The first power unit was planned to start up late 2011. The delay was caused by continuous protests of local residents who are against nuclear power and demand to refuse the plant commissioning. In mid October last year crowds of marchers blocked the access road to Kudankulam NPP and all approaches to it preventing engineers and builders to complete the construction of the facility. In March, the Government of Tamil Nadu State made a decision to resume construction of Kudankulam NPP in spite of the protests. The Indian authorities state that nuclear power is required to meet growing electricity needs of the country.