New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday extended the deadline to April 2022 for construction of a dumping and storage facility for spent nuclear fuel at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, after the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) failed to comply with an earlier deadline of 30 May 2018.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, while hearing a plea by NPCIL for extension of the deadline, directed it to set up an Away from Reactor Facility (AFR) before the expiry of the fresh deadline and said no further extension of time would be granted to the corporation to set up the facility.
The court, however, allowed G. Sundarrajan, petitioner in the plea challenging the setting up of a nuclear power plant at Kudankulam, to file an application for shutting the nuclear plant till an AFR is not constructed for disposal of spent nuclear waste.
It is extremely dangerous to store spent nuclear fuel in or around the reactor, said Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Sundarrajan. Spent nuclear fuel should be stored in a “deep-underground facility", the petitioner submitted.
In 2013, the Supreme Court had given its nod to the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu and had issued five guidelines to NPCIL on commissioning, safety and security, and environmental issues concerning the plant.
There were several protests over NPCIL’s Kudankulam project for over two years, after a tsunami in 2011 damaged the cooling system of Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011 what is regarded as one of the worst accidents in the history of nuclear power generation.