Koodankulam Reactor Vessel: Faulty, Illegal and Dangerous


Dr. V T Padmanabhan, DiaNuke – TRANSCEND Media Service

A month ago, when our first report was written, we had no information about the quality of the rector pressure vessel (RPV) installed at KKNPP (Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project) during the month of Aug 2006. After scanning a couple documents from the Russia, Europe and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), we are now fairly confident that the vessel was constructed during the mid-eighties for one of the six reactors under construction since the early eighties and cancelled post-Chernobyl and the Berlin wall. Vessels of that vintage would not have been allowed in Russia after 1988 updating of pressure vessel standards in the Soviet Union. It seems that Russia had inherited several such sub-standard pressure vessels, which are not permissible in the major markets.

The reactor commissioned in Czech Republic in 2001 was fabricated in Japan. Russian and Czech vessel factories will not be making any VVER1000 vessel as a new version AES2006 is bring offered to China and other European nations. At the same time, talks for building four more reactors of the same vintage at Kudankulam are on. The business is about Rs 80,000 to 100,000 crores in foreign exchange.

The obsolete RPV is illegal because:

(a) It may cause premature ageing of the reactor- leading to earlier retirement and the financial loss to the company. When the vessel dies, the reactor also dies.

(b) It can cause release of the core material- fission products, plutonium and uranium leading to offsite contamination as in a level 7 nuclear event.

Beyond the above, there is not much nuclear physics or radiation biology involved in KKNPP pressure vessel saga.

It is simply a violation of a trade treaty and collusion by the NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) and the AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board). In this case, if the reactor is started, it will be next to impossible to inspect it. Hence the emergency. The only option we feel is to approach the Supreme Court with this single point.


Dr. VT Padmanabhan is an eminent scientist and researcher in health effects of radiation. His papers have been published in International Journal of Health Services, Journal of American Medical Association, International Perspectives in Public Health, the Lancet, and Economic and Political Weekly. He is a member of the European Commission on Radiation Risk, an independent body of experts appointed by the Green MEPs in Europe.

Go to Original – dianuke.org


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One Response to “Koodankulam Reactor Vessel: Faulty, Illegal and Dangerous”

  1. satoshi says:

    One of the main obstacles in discussing the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant is that the substantial part of the technical details on the Nuclear Power Plant is exclusively grasped by the Russian engineers working at the Plant site. Relevant documents on technical details on the Power Plant are all written in Russian. It is the Russian engineers’ privilege that they dominate the critical information on the Nuclear Power Plant. Therefore, it is probable that they will never translate the technical information into English even if they are proficient in English. Then, is there anyone, among relevant government officials of India for instance, who is qualified to translate these technical details in English from Russian? It is said that even the operational manual of McDonald’s contains more than 700 pages. If so, how about the documents of technical details on the Nuclear Power Plant? Probably, more than thousands of pages. Then, who dare to bother to translate all these more than thousands of pages of technical documents?

    Without the substantial technical information, the Indian government officials have been claiming the safety of the Power Plant over the years. On the other hand, the residents of Koodankulam have been de facto blind to almost all significant aspects of the Power Plant. This means that both Indian government officials and the Koodankulam residents have been conducting the so-called blind discussions for all those years. Meanwhile, the Russian engineers might have been laughing behind the dispute of those Indians. Who knows?