After Tamil Nadu Chief Minister wrote to Prime Minister, urging him to halt the construction of the Away From Reactor (AFR) facility at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) site for storing nuclear waste, the Kudankulam Village Panchayat, under which the project site falls, has passed a resolution against setting up the facility.
- The ward members said the KKNPP was operating 2X1,000 MWe nuclear reactors, besides constructing four more reactors with a similar capacity.
- Since the KKNPP administration, for the first time in the country, had commenced excavation work at the site for building the AFR facility for permanently storing the spent fuel generated in the reactors, it would pose a serious threat to the people living in this region over the next 70 crore years.
- Even though the highly radioactive spent fuel was buried 15 metres below the ground level, the radioactivity would spread, spoiling the groundwater, the drinking water being supplied through pipes and the water being used for irrigation.
Back to Basics
About Away From Reactor facility
- 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.
- 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.
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