New safety designs to secure nuclear reactors | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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New safety designs to secure nuclear reactors

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has started working on additional advanced safety designs for its nuclear reactors to make them absolutely tamper proof. HT reports.

mumbai Updated: Dec 03, 2010 01:42 IST
HT Correspondent

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has started working on additional advanced safety designs for its nuclear reactors to make them absolutely tamper proof.

The need to implement additional security measures has stemmed after the November 26, 2008, terror attacks, said BARC officials.

The closest nuclear reactor to the city is in Tarapur.

The Department of Atomic Energy is also debating decreasing the exclusion zone around nuclear reactors from 1.6 km to 1km. An exclusion zone is a buffer zone where no settlements are permitted.

"Land is scare. As we build more and more reactors, we will have to move closer to the population," said BARC director, RK Sinha, while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the two-day National Conference on Advanced Nuclear Technology at BARC.

"We need to move from effectiveness to efficiency. Therefore we need to develop reactor technology in a way that the local population remains unaffected if something happens inside the plant," added chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited SK Jain.

"We will get locals to farm or even grow mango trees to demonstrate that there is nothing to worry with a nuclear plant in the vicinity."

On the safety front, Sinha added, "The current technology for all reactors is based on the reliability of the components. But one cannot rule out threat to the reactors after the terrorists attack in Mumbai."

Scientists at the Trombay-based Centre will integrate safety and security system into the reactor technology.

So in case of tampering, either by external or internal elements, the security systems will be such that the nuclear reactor will automatically shut down.

"In any situation where external or internal forces try to hoodwink the system, the reactor won't be a danger to the population," said Sinha.

The Centre has developed critical hardware for safety and demonstrated it. This will be installed when the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor is constructed. The two upcoming reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu have more reliable safety measures.

"At present, all reactors have inbuilt safety features installed in them. But we are planning for more advanced systems," added Sinha.

For instance, these reactors are placed in double containment.

He added that in case of an attack like the airplane crashing into the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001, the outside container of the reactor would be damaged but the inner one will face minimum harm thereby reducing the danger of leaks drastically.