Storage of spent fuel facility safe in Kudankulam
- While anti-nuclear groups are opposing the proposal to set up an ‘Away From Reactor’ facility on the premises of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), ahead of a scheduled public hearing on July 10, the KKNPP Director has allayed apprehensions that the facility would harm the residents.
Facilities for storage of spent fuel
- Site Director, KKNPP, said all nuclear power stations in operation in India and other countries had facilities to store new as well as spent (used) fuel.
- The scheme for the storage of spent fuel in a nuclear power plant was two-fold — one facility is located within the reactor building/service building, generally known as the spent fuel storage pool/bay, and the other is located away from the reactor, called the Away From Reactor (AFR) Spent Fuel Storage Facility, but within the plant’s premises.
- The AFR Spent Fuel Storage Facility is not needed from day one and can be constructed as and when a need arises.
- There are two AFRs in operation at Tarapur near Mumbai in Maharashtra and one at Rawatbhata near Kota in Rajasthan. An AFR is being constructed at Rawatbhata.
- AFR design is specific to fuel type. The proposed AFR facility is designed for storing spent fuel discharged from reactors at Kudankulam Units 1 and 2 and cannot be used for storing spent fuel from other reactors elsewhere in India whose design is different.
- The proposed AFR facility at KKNPP reactors 1 and 2 is for storage of spent fuel only and not for storage of nuclear waste, as perceived by a few. The requirements for spent fuel storage and waste management are different,” the official said.
- The design ensures that there would not be any adverse impact of the facility on the personnel, the public and the environment.
- The radiation dose on account of AFR to the public would be negligible, even [when] compared to the exposure from natural radiation background sources like soil, sun etc.
- This has been established at the Tarapur and Rawatbhata sites, where AFRs have been in operation for many years
Why such need of storage pool inside the reactor?
- The spent fuel storage pool inside the reactor building has a limited capacity and is used for immediate storage of the spent fuel removed from the reactor during refuelling.
- The fuel remains in the pool initially for a few years for it to be cooled sufficiently before it is shifted to the facility.
- The AFR Spent Fuel Storage Facility is functionally similar to the ‘Spent Fuel Pool’ inside the reactor building, except in terms of capacity.