With 9/11 still fresh in its mind, the government has upgraded its safety requirements for nuclear power plants. These plants, when built, will have to be able to withstand the impact of a jetliner crash.
This is part of the new safety rules being worked out by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). There have been several intelligence alerts of Indian atomic installations being terror targets.
The requirements are similar to ones passed by US regulators in 2009, eight years after 9/11. Later, intelligence suggested the initial plan was to hit nuclear plants.
An expert panel was formed to look into this requirement some months ago, an AERB scientist told HT. “It is likely to become a rule,” the official said.
If these rules come into effect in India, all companies that petition to build reactors will have to prove their designs have safeguards such as reinforced shield structures and better protection for the storage pools where used nuclear fuel is kept.
Existing reactors, as well as several Russian-built reactors underway in Tamil Nadu, will be exempt, but officials will implement special managerial techniques to reduce the risk.
There is also the possibility that existing plants will be retro-fitted with the new safeguards.
Current regulations say N-power plants can’t be built close to airports or directly under commercial air corridors, but these requirements are meant to prevent accidental collisions.