The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

India’s fast growth in renewable energy

FT 23rd May 2017, Until recently, the answer was overwhelmingly coal, which accounts for about 60 per cent of Indian power generation. Coal capacity has almost tripled in the past decade to 192GW and a further 65GW is under construction.

The fastest growth, however, is coming from renewables. Significant amounts of hydro and wind generation have already pushed the share of green energy to about 30 per cent. This is now being supplemented by rapid expansion in solar power. A landmark was reached this May when an auction to supply 500MW of new solar capacity at a 10,000 hectare facility on the edge of the Thar desert secured a record low price of Rs2.44 ($0.04) per kilowatt-hour — down two-thirds from three years ago and, for the first time, cheaper than coal-fired generation.

Plummeting costs have spurred forecasts that Indian solar capacity could double this year to 18GW, which would be more than six times greater than when Mr Modi’s government took power three years ago…..

May 24, 2017 Posted by | India, renewable | Leave a comment

India diverts ‘peaceful’ nuclear materials to weapons development

India Has Been Diverting Nuclear Materials to Make Weapons: Pakistan News .com May 18, 2017, Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday alleged that India has been diverting nuclear materials it had obtained for peaceful purposes under the NSG waiver to make weapons.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters that Pakistan has been underscoring for decades the risks of diversion by India of imported nuclear fuel, equipment and technology, received pursuant to civil nuclear cooperation agreements and the 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver.

“The concerns over diversion are neither new nor unfounded. India enjoys the rare distinction of diverting nuclear material, obtained on its peaceful use commitment, to its nuclear weapons programme,” he said.

“The past and potential misuse of nuclear materials by India entails not only serious issues of nuclear proliferation but also carry grave implications for strategic stability in South Asia and national security of Pakistan.”

He said media reports and papers substantiate an otherwise largely “ignored fact” that India’s nuclear weapons programme is the fastest growing in the world.

Talking about a paper recently released by Harvard Kennedy School, he said that this paper and other several reports corroborate growing concerns related to the use of nuclear material acquired by India from abroad in its existing and future unsafeguarded nuclear reactors, plants and facilities for development of nuclear weapons.

“The recent Belfer paper inter alia concludes that India has accumulated nuclear material for over 2600 nuclear weapons,” he said.

He said that NSG states have a responsibility to take into account these well-founded concerns while considering transfer of nuclear material to India and its NSG membership bid.

 He claimed that many international nuclear experts, think tanks and media reports in the past years have consistently raised concerns over the lack of transparency, absence of international safeguards, and the potential for diversion of unsafeguarded nuclear material for nuclear weapons in India…….

May 19, 2017 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India plans to build 10 nuclear reactors

Indian cabinet approves plans to build 10 nuclear reactors, Reuters, 18 May 17,  India’s cabinet approved plans on Wednesday to build 10 nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 7,000 megawatts (MW), more than the country’s entire current capacity, to try fast-track its domestic nuclear power program.

The decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government marks the first strategic response to the near collapse of Westinghouse, the U.S. reactor maker that had been in talks to build six of its AP1000 reactors in India.

Westinghouse, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March after revealing billions of dollars in cost overruns at its U.S. projects, raising doubts about whether it can complete the India deal.

India has installed nuclear capacity of 6,780 MW from 22 plants and plans to add another 6,700 MW by 2021-22 through projects currently under construction. The 10 additional reactors would be the latest design of India’s Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor.

“This project will bring about substantial economies of scale and maximize cost and time efficiencies by adopting fleet mode for execution,” the government said in a statement……..

May 19, 2017 Posted by | India, politics | Leave a comment

India’s secret radioactive horror story – Jadugoda

The Terrible Things Happening To Children In India’s ‘Nuclear Graveyard’ Will Scar You For Life [PHOTOGRAPHS] scoopwhoop.comby Era Tangar, 16 May 17   “…….Jadugoda, a town of 19,500 people about 1,370km from New Delhi, is a four-hour drive from Ranchi, Jharkhand. In 1967, this tribal town became the site for India’s first nuclear mine. It is often called India’s best kept secret. The government-owned Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) mines for uranium in the region. The small township is home to the world’s finest uranium ore, magnesium diuranate,

Locals were initially ecstatic because this would increase employment opportunities. Over the past 40 years, the UCIL has conducted indiscriminate and unchecked uranium mining. This has destroyed local environment and the health of the tribal population. The toxic emission has caused facial tumours, mascular dystrophy, deformed skeletons, lung cancer and curved spines, to name a few.

The crimes of the UCIL have been under-reported in the media. There are articles and documentaries portraying the state of the town and the areas nearby but not much has been done as a follow up while people of Jadugoda continue to suffer for 50 years now. India’s nuclear dream has costed the well-being of Jharkhand’s tribals and made them suffer in silence. ……..  Share the word about Jadugoda till it reaches someone who can help these innocent souls.

 Photographs by Ashish Birulee.

These photos were featured at the 3rd International Uranium Film Festival, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, World Uranium Symposium in Quebec City, Canada 2015, World Nuclear Victims Forum, 2015 in Hiroshima, Japan and at UCCJ International Youth Conference in Kyoto, Japan 2017.

May 17, 2017 Posted by | environment, health, India, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Water and steam leakage causes shutdown of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Reactor

Kudankulam Nuclear Unit Shut Down Due to Water, Steam Leakage, The second unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) has been shut down due to water and steam leakage, an official said on Saturday.

The plant’s operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) said the Unit-II is likely to restart on May 11.

“The unit was shut down due to steam and water leakage. We have to first cool the reactor and then set right the system,” H.N. Sahu, Site Director, KNPP told IANS over phone from Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district around 650 km from here.

The NPCIL has two 1,000 MW nuclear power plants at KNPP built with Russian equipment.

The first unit was shut down on April 13, for annual maintenance and refuelling, a process that would take around two months.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment

Lots of renewable energy news. For example: India

Sorry. I can’t keep up with all the renewable energy news. Can only give headlines. I recommend Renewable Energy Buzz

World’s hottest market: Air conditioners for India and hundreds of new electric plants to power them.
The country is likewise poised to avoid the costs of such an explosion—including billions of tons of carbon pollution—by deploying units that are super efficient, with climate-friendly refrigerants and powered by renewable energy.

Global pension funds warm to India’s solar power ambitions.
Some of the world’s biggest pension funds, seeking long-term returns on green investments, are scouting for deals in India’s solar power sector, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is targeting $100 billion in investment in the next five years.

India to make every single car electric by 2030 in bid to tackle pollution that kills millions.
Every car sold in India will be powered by electricity by the year 2030, according to plans unveiled by the country’s energy minister.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | India, renewable | Leave a comment

Long delay in development of India’s fast breeder nuclear reactor

Fast breeder nuclear reactor delayed by 8 yrs, Deccan Herald, Kalyan Ray, DH News Service, New Delhi, Apr 15 2017,   On record, the target continues to be October 2017  The Centre has set a new target schedule of mid-2018 to commission India’s first gen-next fast breeder nuclear reactor – eight years behind original schedule. Sources in the Department of Atomic Energy told Deccan Herald that the middle of 2018 was being looked at a more realistic target to put the new reactor into operation.

Once functional, the fast breeder reactor would usher in the second stage of India’s three-stage nuclear power programme as envisioned by Homi Bhabha, the father of Indian nuclear programme.

Fast breeder reactors “breed” more fissile material than the fuel they consume. They burn plutonium – generated in Uranium-fueled pressured heavy water reactors and light water reactors – to breed a special type of fissile uranium known as U-233, which is used as fuel.

Anti-nuclear activists, however, are concerned on the FBR reactors for two reasons. No one is sure about its long-term commercial viability and ecological-impact in the absence of similar reactors in other nations. Secondly, it uses liquid sodium, a hazardous material as coolant.

The sodium cooling leads to a temperature of 600 degrees Celsius inside the reactor, because of which there are safety concerns.

“From the day of pouring liquid sodium into the system, we need at least five months for the FBR to generate commercial electricity,” sources said.

As per the original schedule, the project was to be commissioned in September, 2010, which was later rescheduled to September 2014.

The goalpost was against shifted to September 2016 and later on to October 2017….

April 19, 2017 Posted by | India, technology | Leave a comment

Why is India still looking to nuclear companies that now face financial ruin?

India flirts with nuclear firms facing financial ruiTwo of the major nuclear firms, India is dealing with, have run into financial crisis. As India looks forward to increase its share of nuclear energy in total power generation, the wavering financial condition of the firms raises some serious questions. India Today, IANS  by Prabhash K Dutta New Delhi, April 16, 2017, For long a pariah in the global nuclear technology market, Indian policymakers are pleasantly discovering how the boot is on the other foot as they are furiously courted by foreign firms themselves facing financial ruin.

American nuclear giant Westinghouse, which is in talks with the Indian government on a proposed project in Andhra Pradesh, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

A year ago, the French energy major Areva, which has offered to build reactors at a Maharashtra site, began a process of major restructuring following huge losses.


Westinghouse is proposing to build six reactors of 1,000 MW capacity each at Kovvada in coastal Andhra Pradesh. The government has indicated this site in place of the originally proposed Mithi Virdi in Gujarat, where the local population protested against plans to erect a nuclear plant in their area.

Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh said in Parliament earlier this year that the land acquisition process at Kovvada had begun, while discussions had also started with Westinghouse on the techno-commercial aspects of a project proposal.

“I don’t understand why the government is so keen to talk to these nuclear power companies that are in major financial difficulty, unless it is to bail them out,” former Union Power Secretary EAS Sarma told IANS.


“The inevitable fallout of Westinghouse being in a financially weak position will be delay in completing the project and resulting cost over-runs. In this scenario, our government is looking to bail out American companies… to create jobs in the US,” he said.

“On the other hand, the government is going ahead with acquiring land, as if the opposition of locals at Kovvada is of no consequence as compared to the protests at Mithi Virdi,” he added.

Sarma said there are also concerns about the fuel for the reactors to be supplied as per contractual practice, by a financially crippled Westinghouse.

“Westinghouse has sold its fuel fabrication facility to the Chinese and so our fuel will come from the latter, which is a cause for concern, and I have written to the government on this,” the former Secretary said.


The case of Areva, which is proposing six EPR-type 1,650 MW reactors at Jaitapur, is even more complex, with the French firm having signed the agreements with Larsen & Toubro and state-run Nuclear Power Corp during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s France visit in 2015.

Soon after, Areva declared massive losses of 4.8 billion euros and the French government, which owns 87 per cent of the company, announced its nuclear power arm would be sold to another state-run firm, EDF.

Sarma pointed out that Areva has struggled to complete two identical EPR reactors, one at Olkiluoto in Finland, which is still not operational despite over a decade-long delay and a trebling of costs, and the other in Flamanville, France, plagued by serious construction and security issues, delays and massive cost over-runs.

“The French nuclear security watchdog has issued a number of severe warnings to Areva on major security issues and manufacturing and construction flaws in the reactor being built in Flamanville,” Sarma said.

Flamanville is one of four EPRs under construction worldwide, and its cost overrun — from an estimated 3.3 billion euros to over 10 billion euros — is at the heart of Areva’s current problems.

“Now with their current troubles, there is even more likelihood of Areva compromising on design safety features, on which they have such poor track record,” Sarma said……..


This is a complete reversal of the situation that prevailed before an agreement with the US in 2008 allowed India to engage in nuclear commerce and start importing uranium fuel again for its reactors……..

April 17, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, India, politics international | 1 Comment

Increased risk of an accidental nuclear weapons exchange between India and Pakistan

Nuclear roulette BY EDITORIAL THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE , 8 Apr 17, A mutually agreed nuclear disarmament treaty between India and Pakistan has never been on the cards and is never likely to be. Both maintain a nuclear arsenal and both have the capacity to deliver nuclear weapons anywhere within the territory of the other. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) is indeed assured. Neither state presents a nuclear threat face to any other enemy. Given the oscillating volatility of both states it is unsurprising that the nuclear cards get a periodic shuffle, and India under Modi has moved into an altogether more martial phase with threat levels, nuclear and conventional, rising accordingly. Analysts and observers are of a uniform opinion — the place a nuclear exchange is most likely to happen accidentally, as in a reactive event rather than a first-strike assault — is between India and Pakistan, and India is likely in that event to be the state that pushes the button first.
Reports are in circulation that India may consider revising its no first strike policy, allowing its ‘nuclear establishment’ to conduct pre-emptive strikes against Pakistan in the event of a war.

The environment of managed instability along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary has heated up in the last year. In addition to cross-border shelling there have been movements of armour and heavy artillery on both sides. India has claimed to have raided into Pakistan — without providing substantive evidence of such — and any shift in the position regarding nuclear doctrines is going to do nothing for strategic restraint in the region.

 Why this latest upping of the ante is irresponsible and dangerous is that it adds another layer of uncertainty. For all the sabre-rattling by India there is little real possibility of the pot boiling over, and now would be an opportune time if ever there was one to explore moderate and peaceful outcomes, create confidence-building measures, propose a halt to the arrests of each other’s innocent but wandering fisherpeople — and there seems little doubt that Pakistan would be willing to consider all of that as part of a composite dialogue, but no. Instead India plays the pre-emptive strike card and raises further human rights concerns in Kashmir. Let us be blunt. Act your age, India. Grow up. And stop throwing your toys around the (nuclear) playpen.

April 8, 2017 Posted by | India, Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

9 year old girl sues Indian government for inaction on climate change

Girl, 9, sues Indian government over inaction on climate change by Rina Chandran | @rinachandran | Thomson Reuters Foundation, 7 April 2017 India is home to four of the 10 worst ranked cities in the world for air pollution MUMBAI,  – A nine-year-old girl has filed a legal case against the Indian government for failing to take action on climate change, highlighting the growing concern over pollution and environmental degradation in the country.

In the petition filed with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a special court for environment-related cases, Ridhima Pandey said the government has failed to implement its environment laws.

“As a young person (Ridhima) is part of a class that amongst all Indians is most vulnerable to changes in climate, yet are not part of the decision making process,” the 52-page petition said. The petition called on the tribunal to direct the government “to take effective, science-based action to reduce and minimise the adverse impacts of climate change”.

The tribunal has asked the Ministry of Environment and the Central Pollution Control Board to respond within two weeks.

A spokesman from the Ministry of Environment told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that they would respond as directed by the tribunal.

India is home to four of the 10 worst ranked cities in the world for air pollution. Along with China, India accounted for more than half the total number of global deaths attributable to air pollution in 2015, according to a recent study.

Despite several laws to protect India’s forests, clean up its rivers and improve air quality, critics are concerned that implementation is poor, and economic growth often takes precedence over the environment.

Flash floods and landslides in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, where Ridhima lives, killed hundreds of people and left tens of thousands homeless in 2013.

The devastation affected Ridhima, the daughter of an environmental activist, said Rahul Choudhary, a lawyer representing her.

“For someone so young, she is very aware of the issue of climate change, and she is very concerned about how it will impact her in future,” he said. “She wanted to do something that can have a meaningful effect, and we suggested she could file a petition against the government,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ridhima is not the first child in India to take the government to task over inaction to protect the environment.

Last year, six teenagers filed a petition with the NGT over air pollution in New Delhi which has the worst air quality in the country.

India is taking some action to mitigate the damage. As a signatory to the Paris agreement on climate change, it is committed to ensuring that at least 40 percent of its electricity is generated from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030.

In her petition, Ridhima asked the court to order the government to assess industrial projects for climate-related issues, prepare a “carbon budget” to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and create a national climate recovery plan.

“That a young girl is doing so much to draw the government’s attention is something. We hope the case puts some pressure on the government to act,” said Choudhary. (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit to see more stories.)

April 8, 2017 Posted by | climate change, India, Legal | Leave a comment

India US Nuclear Deal should be given a decent burial, now that Westinghouse is bankrupt

With Westinghouse Bankruptcy, the Nuclear Energy Story Nearly Over The much touted nuclear renaissance is now over. News Click  Prabir Purkayastha  07 Apr 2017  With Westinghouse announcing its bankruptcy, India’s pledge to buy at least 10,000 MW as a part of the India US Nuclear Deal and reiterated by Modi last year, should be given a decent burial. Any agreement with Westinghouse now means that India would be bailing out Westinghouse and the US nuclear industry with Indian peoples’ money.

This also draws to a close all talk about a nuclear renaissance. The three major reactor manufacturers – Toshiba-Westinghouse, GE-Hitachi and Areva, France – are all in major financial difficulties. Only a fool will still believe their promise that the 3rd generation reactors they are developing – none of which have been successfully commissioned as yet – are either safe or cheap.

The Left’s position during the India US 123 Deal was that it neither served India’s strategic interest, nor made sense in energy terms. It also meant abandoning India’s self-reliant nuclear reactor industry for importing costly and unproven US reactors. Though it failed to stop the 123 Agreement in Parliament, the Left successfully led the struggle to modify India’s Nuclear Liability Act, ensuring that nuclear suppliers, like in any other hazardous industry, should be liable for their faulty equipment.

The Fukushima disaster has shown that a nuclear accident can cost up to $200 billion . Even this could be a conservative estimate. The Indian liability law caps operator and suppliers’ liability to just $ 407 million (300 million SDR’s). Though cost of a reactor is in billions of dollars, even this small liability, only a fraction of its cost, was perceived to be too “dangerous” and unacceptable to the US suppliers.

Last year, Modi, announced during one of his US visits that not only would India buy US reactors, a continuation of the assurance given by Shivshankar Menon, the Foreign Secretary under Manmohan Singh (Letter September 10th, 2008 ), but would also assume the liabilities of the US suppliers in case of of a nuclear accident. India offered Mithi Virdi in Gujarat to Westinghouse and Kovvada in Andhra to GE as the two sites. Subsequently on GE’s failure to show any successful contract combined with local resistance in Mithi Virdi, GE’s project was considered cancelled, and its Andhra site offered to Westinghouse.

Fortunately for India, Modi’s assurances have come too late for the US nuclear industry. The much touted nuclear renaissance is now over. In OECD countries, only 7 new reactors are being built with varying degrees of state support. With huge cost and time overruns, the curse of the nuclear industry, all of them are in deep trouble. GE, unsuccessful in selling even one of its so-called advanced design, has virtually pulled out of the nuclear business. After huge and continuing losses, Areva, the French reactor supplier, is being taken over by EdF, the French state-owned energy utility. EdF has already scrapped the new Areva EPR design, with which the Finnish Olkiluoto and French Flamanville plants were being built. This is also the design Areva is trying to sell for the Jaitapur project in Maharashtra.

The major objections of the Left regarding imported reactors have been proven correct. The untried and untested designs have meant numerous changes and difficulties in construction, leading to significant delays and sharp increase in costs. The cost of the two Areva plants of Euro 3 billion each originally, have increased by almost three times .

The Westinghouse story is no different………

In the exchanges between the UPA and the Left during Manmohan Singh’s government, the cost of new nuclear plants from French or US suppliers had come up. The UPA had presented figures for capital cost per KW of $1,500 and the price of power to be Rs. 1.49 paise per unit from imported nuclear plants. The Left had given figures from Olkiluoto and the US, showing that the capital cost would be at least $4,000 per KW and the price of electricity from such plants around Rs. 5 per unit.

The figures from the US and French projects now show that the capital cost per KW for such plants is in the range of $6,000-7,000, and therefore the price per unit of electricity from such plants will not be less than Rs. 8-10 per unit.

Why did the UPA claim such absurdly low figures for nuclear energy? They were either figments of their imagination or took these figures straight from the promotional material of the nuclear suppliers. To claim nuclear energy to be competitive, the nuclear suppliers took a 60-year life of the plant, left out the interest on capital during construction as a component of the cost, and claimed their new designs had much lower capital costs. They then did what are called levellised cost calculations –  the cost of electricity over the lifetime of the plant. By this sleight of hand, they reached figures for the cost of nuclear power to be competitive with coal and gas.

Of course, the actual capital costs are much higher than what the nuclear industry was claiming. The regulators and utilities that price the electricity, have also to look at all the cost components including cost of capital, interest on loans, etc., and fix the price that of electricity. What matters to consumers and utilities (distribution companies or state electricity boards) is not the levellised cost of electricity, but the entry cost of nuclear power to the grid. This is what needs to be competitive to other sources. Any such calculations shows that nuclear energy is simply not competitive.

The collapse of Westinghouse, which has either built or licensed its designs to almost half the world’s reactors, shows that the nuclear story is nearly over. The reality is that with the cost of renewables – solar photovoltaics and wind – dropping sharply, the economics are increasingly against nuclear energy. This is apart from danger of catastrophic accidents or danger from long-term storage of radioactive nuclear wastes. It may still sustain itself for some time in countries, where there is a strong indigenous nuclear industry, such as India, China, Korea and Russia. But its days are now clearly numbered.

April 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, India, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Indian nuclear power plant to use drones for surveillance

Nuclear plant to have eye in the sky 
RAHUL WADKE MUMBAI, APRIL 2:  Situated in vast areas and away from human settlement, the surveillance of nuclear power plants have been a challenge for paramilitary force CISF, which is tasked with the security of such installations.

Now, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) plans to deploy drones for the purpose at the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) near Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu.

While MAPS would be the first such facility in the country to use drones for general surveillance and intrusion detection, they were famously deployed by Japanese engineers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the nuclear accident of 2011.

The Kalpakkam plant, located 70 km from Chennai, is also in the vicinity of other sensitive installations of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) such as the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, the Fast Breeder Reactor Project, the BARC-run nuclear desalination demonstration plant and Kalpakkam fuel reprocessing plant.

Sources close to the development said tenders are likely to be floated by the NPCIL for procuring the drones and their control systems this fiscal. The use of drones will also require clearances from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the regulator for all atomic energy institutions in the country.

Both aerial and ground level drones are capable of large-scale territorial surveillance. They are fitted with video cameras and other sensors that allow continuous surveillance of facilities.

Sources said the cameras mounted on the drones could be programmed to scan for certain topographical features on the ground and if there is a mismatch between the programmed image and the live feed from drones, alarms would go off.

Lt Gen DS Hooda (Retd), who served as Chief of Northern Army Command, told BusinessLine that the Army had been using drones on the India-Pakistan border and in Kashmir region. Drones allow the forces to get a bird’s eye view of the terrain and identify intruders hiding in tall structures. Drones would prove to useful in securing large installations, he said.

April 3, 2017 Posted by | India, safety | Leave a comment

Vague outlook for India-U.S. civil nuclear pact, unlikely to meet June deadline

India-U.S. civil nuclear pact likely to miss June deadline, THE HINDU, Suhasini Haidar 27 Mar 17 Bankruptcy of reactor maker Westinghouse clouds operationalisation of the deal.

More than two years after India and the U.S. announced that the civil nuclear deal was “done,” its actual operationalisation is in doubt over a number of developments that stretch from a “school scandal” in the Japanese parliament to the Cranberry, Pennsylvania headquarters of Westinghouse Electric, which is expected to file for bankruptcy this week.

 Six reactors for A.P. According to the agreement over liability issues and the negotiations that followed former U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June 2016, the two sides had agreed to “work toward finalising the contractual arrangements by June 2017” for six reactors to be built in Andhra Pradesh by Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

When completed, this was to be the first operationalisation of the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal, which was announced in 2008, and proof that both sides had effectively sorted out all their issues, including over the liability that suppliers must accept in the event of an accident.

The reason for the concern is that the nuclear arrangement hinged on two major factors — the completion of the India-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), as Toshiba and other suppliers for reactor parts are bound by Japanese laws and by the actual contract to be negotiated by the U.S.-based Westinghouse…….

When contacted, the U.S. Embassy declined to comment on how the bankruptcy issues would affect the deal. Nuclear officials said it was “likely” the June 2017 commercial contract with Westinghouse would be “delayed”, given that other financial companies, insurance companies would require clarity on the company’s future before agreeing to sign on the contract.

“The truth is the picture is very hazy at the moment,” a senior official of NPCIL said, adding that in the absence of land acquisition procedures for the other India-U.S. nuclear venture with GE-Hitachi for six 1594 MW reactors, the future of the India-U.S. nuclear deal is, for the moment, pinned to the future of Westinghouse itself.

March 29, 2017 Posted by | India, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear watchdog shuts down Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant due to “smallpox-like spots”

BARC scientists probing how 2 nuclear reactors contracted ‘small pox’ PRESS TRUST OF INDIA MARCH 20, 2017 Mumbai: In a plot similar to a Bollywood thriller’s, scientists are burning the midnight oil to discover the reason behind the mysterious nuclear leak at the Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant in Gujarat.

This 21st century atomic potboiler is actually unfolding through the hard work of scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), whose laboratory actually shares a wall with the famous property where Raj Kapoor used to live. Here, they are working overtime to find out the real cause of the leaks at the twin reactors in southern Gujarat.

To avoid panic and further accidents, Indian nuclear watchdog Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has shut down the affected plants till the cause has been found. Nuclear experts say the pipes, made from a rare alloy, have contracted what seems like small pox, and this contagion has spread all over the critical tubes in two Indian Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) at the Kakrapar facility. To make matters worse, more than a year into the investigation, the teams of scientists can’t figure out what has gone wrong.

It was on the morning of March 11, 2016, and as fate would have it, exactly five years after the Fukushima reactors in Japan began exploding, Unit Number 1 of the 220-MW PHWR at Kakrapar developed a heavy water leak in its primary coolant channel and a plant emergency was declared at the site.

The indigenously built nuclear plant had to be shut down, but no worker was exposed and there were no radiation leaks, the Department of Atomic Energy confirmed. Operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) said the reactor had shut down safely, and confirmed that safety systems had functioned normally.

The atomic thriller really begins when experts were trying to find out why a leak recognition system failed, when it should have raised an alarm. “There is a leak detection system in place in all PHWRs, but in this case it failed to detect the leak on March 11, 2016,” confirms AERB Chairman SA Bhardwaj. The watchdog body suspects the crack developed so rapidly that the electronic leak detection system just did not have the time to react.

Subsequent investigations revealed that the leak detection system was fully functioning and the operator had not shut it down to cut costs. Nothing in the core of a nuclear reactor can be done in a jiffy, and several weeks after the first leak, the initial probe using a specially designed tool revealed four big cracks in a coolant tube had led to the massive leak.

The mystery unfolds

The discovery of the crack was only the beginning of the mystery. Further efforts to find the cause established that the outside of the tube, the part not exposed to high-temperature heavy water, was corroded due to unknown causes.

This was a stunning discovery, since the outside of the failed tube was exposed only to high-temperature carbon dioxide and there had been no recorded case of a similar corrosion on the outside of any tube. It is also very hard to access this part since the space is tiny in the annulus.

The AERB then ordered that all tubes made of a special zirconium-niobium alloy be checked on the outside. To their surprise, they discovered that the contagion of the nodular corrosion, ‘small pox-like’ in layman’s parlance, was widespread in many of the 306 tubes. Similar tubes from the same batch used at other Indian reactors continued to operate without corrosion.

The needle of suspicion now pointed to carbon dioxide, a gas known to be very stable in high-radiation environments. A further post mortem revealed that Unit-2, which is twin of the affected reactor, had also been affected by a similar leak on July 1, 2015. Investigations into Unit-2’s failure were made but no conclusive result had been found. This back-to-back failure of two fully functional nuclear reactors befuddled engineers.

BARC begins probe

Undaunted, AERB ordered that the entire assembly and not just the affected tube be safely pulled out and brought to BARC, India’s foremost nuclear laboratory, for detailed failure analysis.

In addition, since India operates another 16 similar nuclear plants, a full-fledged investigation was carried out on coolant channels at all atomic power plants. The investigating team found the ‘small pox-like’ corrosion was confined only to the two units at Kakrapar.

While NPCIL heaved a sigh of relief, the finding made it all the more difficult to discern the true cause of the leaks at Kakrapar. Mr. Bhardwaj says investigators are wondering if the carbon dioxide used in Kakrapar may have been contaminated, which caused the nodular corrosion.

The source of the carbon dioxide was traced backwards, and it seems only the Kakrapar plant was sourcing its gas from a Naptha cracking unit, where it was possibly contaminated by hydrocarbons.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment

India forced to back out of nuclear project sites, due to local opposition

Protest-No!India exploring new sites for building nuclear projects: report, Live Mint 2 Mar 17  India has had to back out from a couple of nuclear project sites in the past because of opposition from the local population. New Delhi: India is exploring new locations, in addition to those already identified, to build nuclear power plants and meet its generation goal, a government official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The nation has had to back out from a couple of sites in the past because of opposition from the local population and is now looking at regions, including those away from the sea, to supplement the existing list, the official said without elaborating. He asked not to be named as the plans aren’t public yet.

India’s plans to expand its nuclear generation capacity more than ten-fold have been hampered by delays in construction due to protests by the local population and suppliers’ concern over a liability law. The law, which allows for claims from companies setting up the plant, has discouraged reactor suppliers from General Electric Co. to Toshiba Corp.-controlled Westinghouse Electric Co.

Toshiba said last month unit Westinghouse’s plan to set up six reactors in India are contingent on a change in the nuclear liability law. It will no longer take up the risk of building new nuclear plants and instead specialize in supplying parts and reactor engineering, the company said following a $6.3 billion write-down.

India is awaiting an official communication from Westinghouse on its plans in the country, the government official said, declining to comment further……..

March 4, 2017 Posted by | India, opposition to nuclear | 1 Comment