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“EPR technology proposed for Jaitapur has to be evaluated”

Special Correspondent

MUMBAI:  Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairperson Srikumar Banerjee on Monday said the EPR technology proposed at Jaitapur would have to be evaluated for safety from the context of earthquakes and tsunamis coming together. Addressing a press conference here, Dr. Banerjee and other heads of India's nuclear establishment sought to dispel myths about the accident in Japan.

They were also categorical that neither India's nuclear programme nor the Jaitapur nuclear power project will be affected, after the events in Japan.

Dr. Banerjee said a safety analysis of the EPR would have to be carried out and whether it had the clearances from the country of origin.  “We have to think of the influence of a natural calamity,” he said. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was already carrying out the process for site clearance at Jaitapur and it would also conduct a safety analysis of the EPR, he said.

 Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) officials said there was no reason to go back on the Jaitapur project and the opposition to the project was due to “non-understanding" of the issues. “NPCIL will put more efforts to convince the local people,” S.P. Dharne said.

 Defending the EPR, NPCIL chairperson and managing director S.K. Jain said the EPR was not an untested reactor and once set up at Jaitapur, it would be the 11th one in the world. He said: “Already the possibility of an earthquake and a tsunami coming together was taken into account and we have a safe-grade elevation at Kalpakkam. During the tsunami in 2004, the plant had a safe shutdown and it was re- started in three days. We are using best practices from all over the world,” he said. “A pre-requisite of the site selection is that it has to be resistant to earthquakes and tsunamis,” he said. Despite the fact that at Kalpakkam, the reactors had a safe shutdown, NPCIL had created a tsunami protection wall around the Kalpakkam plant.

  S.P.  Bhardwaj, director (technical) NPCIL   said EPR had four independent systems of safety features and the control system had improved. It was also pointed out that the one of the main reasons for choosing Jaitapur was that the location was 25 metres above sea level. EPR was the third or third-plus generation of reactors and even if an aircraft crashed into it, it would be safe, Dr. Banerjee said. It had a lot of diverse systems and its design was based on the several reactors operating in Germany and France.

 Dr. Banerjee said that the deal with Areva had not yet culminated in a techno-commercial agreement. No numbers have been considered as yet and an offer was yet to be discussed.

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