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N-plant safety report lauded in Vienna

India's strong nuclear programme with comprehensive capability for the entire nuclear fuel cycle and the strong technical support from BARC and IGCAR is appreciated.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2008 14:51 IST

"India's first national report on nuclear power plants safety was very well received and appreciated at the 4th Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) in Vienna," Chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) S K Sharma said on Wednesday.

"India's strong nuclear programme with comprehensive capability for the entire nuclear fuel cycle, and the strong technical support from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research were highly appreciated," Sharma who led the 17 member high-level Indian delegation told PTI.

"The audience for India's presentation was much more than expected by the International Atomic Energy Agency's secretariat at the convention," he said.

India presented its 206-page report for the first time that included the effective regulatory mechanism for its 17 operating nuclear plants and six plants under construction.

The convention also appreciated India's work on probabilistic safety assessment which demonstrates that the probability of any untoward incident is extremely small (less than 0.000001 per year).

It also lauded the fact that Nuclear Power Corporation and Indian regulatory body have mechnisms in place that use operating experience feedback both Indian and global, to improve safety effectively. "Our Human resource quality was very well acknowledged as operators in Indian power plants are graduate engineers with extensive training, which is not the case in most countries," Sharma who led some of the top officials of BARC and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd to CNS, said.

"The environmental surveillance labs which are established by the government at every nuclear site study the baseline environmental data and the impact of reactor operation in the area, prior to NPCIL begins construction of the reactor," Sharma said.

"India's very sound emegency preparedness by way of conducting onsite and offsite exercises regularly, was also lauded by the participants of the 4th Review Meeting of the CNS," he added.

"Some of the challenges faced by the Indian nuclear community and regulators were also highlighted like licensing of new types of reactors, assessment of reliability and safety of digital instrumentation and control used in the reactors apart from passive safety features used in reactors like advanced heavy water reactor (AHWR)," Sharma said.

AERB is developing safety standards for such systems to ensure their reliability. "CNS was informed that AERB is also developing seismic qualitifcation programme for nuclear plants based on experience data base," he said.

Noting substantial progress made regarding safety management and safety culture worldwide, members of the 4th Review Meeting discussed a myriad of issues concerning safety, the Chief Executive Officer of National Nuclear regulator of South Africa , Maurice T Magugumela said.

"The Review Meeting took place at a very opportune time, because there is a great deal of interest in terms of new nuclear power plant development. This includes countries that already have nuclear power plants, but it also includes countries that do not yet have nuclear power plants," Magugumela said.