The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has given clearance for the first approach to criticality (FAC) for unit one of the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu a major step towards its commissioning. The first approach to criticality,according to the AERB,is the start of the controlled nuclear fission process and is a step towards the subsequent start of power production in a reactor.
Unit-I of the Russian reactor at Kudankulam has installed capacity of 1,000 MW.
The AERB had granted final nod for initial fuel loading in the first unit in September 2012. This was followed by reviews by specialist groups and AERB advisory committee for project safety review.
According to an AERB statement,the reviews included checks to ensure that quality assurance norms have been followed and that the commissioned systems meet the acceptance criteria for safe operation. While granting the clearance,it has been ensured that the directives of the Supreme Court,vide its judgment of May 6,2013,are fully complied with, it said.
In 2012,a petition had been filed in the Supreme Court,which said that 11 out of 17 safety measures recommended by an expert committee had not been implemented at the plant and so fueling should not begin.