Work at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) is progressing rapidly with employees working even on holidays to get the atomic regulator's nod to reopen the first reactor vessel and remove the dummy fuel, the Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) said.

"We are doing the preparatory activities needed to reopen the reactor vessel and unload the dummy fuel. We have to get the written approval from AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) for that purpose," a NPCIL official said.

"Preliminary meetings with AERB got over recently, and one more meeting is expected before getting the nod to reopen the reactor vessel," the official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

According to him, once the sanction is obtained from AERB for reopening the vessel and removal of the dummy fuel, it would take around 10 days to complete the whole process.

He said nuclear reactor specialists from Croatia numbering 10-15 will be called to inspect the interiors of the reactor after the removal of the dummy fuel - fuel rods identical to the real fuel roads in size and other specifications but without uranium.

He said AERB officials are expected to be at KNPP soon.

NPCIL is currently setting up two 1,000 MW reactors supplied by Russia at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli, around 650 km from here.

The two units are fully imported from Russia including the nuts and bolts which also contributed to the delay in commissioning of the project, apart from the protest against the plant on safety grounds for six months.

The first unit was supposed to go on stream in December.

Speaking about manpower, the NPCIL official said: "Our team (NPCIL officials) is in full strength. There are around 1,020 NPCIL officials at the project site and around 500 belonging to contractors."

He said the engineers are checking out the systems and till now, everything is fine.

According to NPCIL officials, the focus is now on the first unit though some work at the second reactor site is on.
Source: Indo-Asia News Service