The Fukushima crisis may lead to a delay in setting up India’s largest nuclear power complex at Jaitapur in coastal Maharashtra, French firm Areva that is providing reactors for the project has concluded in an internal report.
In its preliminary assessment of the impact of the radiation leak from the Fukushima plant on the global nuclear power sector, the French multinational has said it expects “a potential delay linked to the Jaitapur site safety re-assessment”.
This is the first time that Areva or the government has hinted at a possible delay in the 9,900-MW Jaitapur project, which has been facing protests from locals even before Japan was devastated by its worst natural disaster last month.
Under the present schedule, the first phase of the Jaitapur plant — consisting two reactors — is to be commissioned by 2018-19, with the second phase ready by 2021-22 and the final phase set for commissioning by 2025-26.
But estimating the extent of any delay is difficult at present because it would depend on detailed findings of the government’s safety reassessment.
“The reassessment will be based not just on the causes of the Fukushima disaster but on the lessons learnt from the successes and failures in controlling the ongoing crisis,” a senior atomic energy official said.
Commenting on the basis of the concern over the possible delay, Areva India chief managing director Arthur de Montalembert said the company drew its conclusion based on the Prime Minister’s call “for a safety review of both existing and planned nuclear power plants in India.”
A giant temblor off the Japan coast, measuring 9 on the Richter Scale, damaged the normal power supply at the Fukushima plant on March 11 before tsunami waves triggered by the earthquake damaged the backup power supplies.
Though the reactors shut down on their own, failed power systems meant the heated core could not be cooled, leading to hydrogen explosions.
The Jaitapur project — aimed at setting up six nuclear reactors in three phases — will increase India’s nuclear power capacity by more than twice the country’s current nuclear power capacity of 4,700 MW.
India and France signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project in December last year during President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit here.