After weathering a two-year long protest by anti-nuke activists and the fishing community, the first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power project is set to attain ‘criticality’ at midnight Saturday, announced Atomic Energy Commission chairman SK Sinha.
“Criticality refers to the beginning of a controlled chain reaction that will power neutrons and spark off the nuclear fission process. This is the first step towards producing power from the plant,” said plant site director RS Sundar over phone from Kudankulam.
The first MW of power to be fed to the southern grid is expected only within a month to 45 days from midnight.
“All systems and processes are functioning smoothly,” Sundar said in a press statement issued late in the evening.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NCPIL) is erecting two units of 1000 MW nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district of southern Tamil Nadu, 650 km south of Chennai.
Tamil Nadu, reeling under an acute power shortage of around 4000 MW, will breathe a sigh of relief once Kudankulam plant begins power generation, as the state is to get roughly half of the power produced from the Kudankulam facility.
The other southern states, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry and Kerala will also get a share in the power produced from this plant.
“At the first stage, the plant will be synchronized to the southern grid with about 400 MW of power within expected period of 30 to 45 days from criticality,” the NCPIL said in the press statement.