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Send back the spent nuclear fuel to Russia: DMK

Chennai, Oct 7 (IANS) The DMK has urged the central government to send back the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) of the first two 1,000 MW atomic power plants at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior DMK leader and its leader in the Parliament T.R. Baalu on Thursday said the Indian government should impress upon Russia and send the SNF of the first two units to that country for storage in their facility.

He also urged PM Modi to set up the deep geological repository (DGR) as a national priority in uninhabited area so that the spent fuel of nuclear power plants in Kudankulam and the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) could be safely stored.

Referring to the clearance given to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to set up a spent fuel storage facility or Away From Reactor (AFR), Baalu urged Modi to revoke the consent.

The AERB had given its consent to locate the AFR for storing the spent fuel generated from nuclear power plants 1,2,3 and 4 of 1,000 MW each.

Baalu said the NPCIL had told the Supreme Court in May 2018 that it does not have previous experience with long term storage requirements of high burn up Russian type pressurised water reactor fuel in India.

The DMK leader said in the absence of DGR in the country, there is every possibility that the AFR in Kudankulam could become the permanent SNF storage facility.

Baalu said Kudankulam will ultimately have six 1,000 MW nuclear power plants and three AFRs which would raise the risk and people living with constant fear of high radiation.

The DMK MP also said as per the study made by an expert committee in Japan, the long term storage of SNF within the Fukushima premises has largely aggravated the Fukushima accident when tsunami struck that nation.

Studies made by the USA and other countries have brought out the dangers in storing SNF inside the power plant premises.

The NPCIL has two 1,000 MW plants (Units 1 and 2) at Kudankulam, while four more are under construction (Units 3, 4, 5 and 6).

All the six units are built with Russian technology and equipment supplied by that country's integrated nuclear power operator, Rosatom.

Rosatom has already started supplying equipment for Units 3-6.

According to NPCIL officials, Units 3 and 4 have achieved 50 per cent physical progress, while construction work on Units 5 and 6 began in June 2021.

Construction of the Units 5 and 6 are expected to be completed in 66 months and 75 months, respectively.

The Kudankulam site will be the country's largest nuclear island with 6,000 MW of atomic power capacity once the remaining four units get commissioned.