New Delhi: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given a clean chit to the safety systems at the Rawatbhatta nuclear power station in Rajasthan.
This is the first review by the agency of an Indian nuclear facility and follows global and national concerns about the safety of nuclear power stations in the aftermath of the disaster in Fukushima in Japan after a tsunami last year.
The Rawatbhatta plant has a “safety culture in place (and) cultivates a constructive work environment and a sense of accountability among the power plant personnel,” Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd (NPCIL) said on Wednesday in a statement signed by an IAEA official.
It added that systems were in place to provide awareness on radiation safety to local people and to improve the quality of maintenance work and reduce radiation doses.
The IAEA report showed that “the safety systems in place at NPCIL-operated stations were at par with the best in the world,” an NPCILofficial said on condition of anonymity, adding that the international agency will submit a detailed report of its review to the government.
With countries such as Germany and France committing to phase out their reliance on nuclear power in the coming decades, anti-nuclear activists in India, along with local fishermen and farmers, have raised the ante against upcoming nuclear power facilities at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
While the project at Jaitapur is still in preliminary stages, officials of NPCIL have resumed work at the Kudankulam power station after support from the state administration and clean chits given by India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board on the safety systems in the plant.
To be sure, the IAEA team only reviewed two of the five operating units at Rawatbhatta. N. Nagaich, executive director, corporate planning and communications, NPCIL, said this was in line with international practice.
“This is the first time such a review has been done, and it’s up to government to decide which units should be reviewed,” said Nagaich. “There could even be future audits if the government wants. We only implement government’s orders.”
IAEA, however, added that the Rawatbhatta plant could do better in enhancing the standard of its electrical cable conditions, and that its fire door inspection and maintenance programme could also be improved.