The Hindu  dated 28.08.2011

Reactor shutdown system can withstand severe quakes

P. Chellapandi, Director, Nuclear and Safety Engineering Group, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), at the Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC), Taramani, on Saturday. (From left) Nagesh R. Iyer, Director, SERC, and S.C. Chetal, Director, IGCAR, are in the picture

The shutdown system of the 500-MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam has been designed to withstand severe earthquakes, S.C.Chetal, Director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), said on Saturday.

Its capacity was six times the recorded level of acceleration that occurred following an earthquake, he told reporters after the demonstration of seismic tests on the shut-down system at the Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC) campus in Taramani here.

P. Chellapandi, Director, Nuclear and Safety Engineering Group, IGCAR, added that compared to the potential of the magnitude of earthquake [as measured on the Richter scale] in the coastal stretch of Kalpakkam, the system's capacity would be about three times.

Scientists of the IGCAR and SERC demonstrated the reliable operation of the shutdown system at a Rs.40-crore testing facility, which was funded by the two Central organisations. The system had been developed, meeting all the stringent specification of international design and construction codes. After completing all the simulated tests at the IGCAR, another round of tests was performed at the SERC.

Dr Chetal explained that two independent shutdown systems had been proposed. In the event of the failure of one system at the time of emergency, the other would take over.

Explaining how additional safety measures were being carried out after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, Dr. Chellapandi said the design of the system was being improved so that the reactor would not, to the extent possible, release radio-active materials. He added that the reactor would become critical by the end of 2012 and it would be commissioned in 2013. Talking of his organisation's various studies, Nagesh R. Iyer, Director, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-SERC, said one study pertained to the possibility of reducing the extent of land used for installing power transmission towers, given the fact such towers now took away a large amount of cultivable land.

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