Process on for environmental clearance for spent nuclear fuel storage in Kudankulam

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) The process is on for environmental clearance to set up the ‘Away From Reactor’ (AFR) facility to store the spent fuel of 1,000 MW atomic power plants – Unit 1 and 2 – at Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam, the Parliament was told on Thursday.

The process to obtain environmental clearance for AFR to store the spent nuclear fuel is in progress, Union Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha in response to a question raised by DMK member P. Wilson.

According to him, the spent nuclear fuel storage facilities anywhere in the country are set up only after obtaining all statutory approvals, including environmental clearance.

He also said safety clearances from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) will be obtained to ensure that the spent fuel facility does not pose any radiological hazard to the people and nearby environment.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building four more 1,000 MW reactors at Kudankulam, taking the total number of power plants there to six.

Singh said the AERB has accorded siting clearance for AFR spent fuel wet storage facilities for Units 1-4 at Kudankulam after verifying compliance with the regulatory and safety requirements.

The AERB is currently carrying out design safety review of the AFR.

As regards the Units 3-6, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies of spent fuel storage facilities were carried out as a part of the EIA of the whole project, Singh said.

The environmental clearance for Units 3-6 including storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel was accorded after careful consideration of the same, following the due processes.

The AERB has accorded consent to establish the facility in Units 3 and 4, Singh said.

He also said such spent nuclear fuel storage facilities are already in operation at Tarapur (Maharashtra) and Rawatbhata (Rajasthan) sites which are operating safely without any impact on the personnel, public and environment.

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