'Regulating various nuclear reactors in India a challenge'

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 14:40 hrs

Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Oct 12 (IANS) The expansion of India's nuclear power sector with the setting up of mega sized reactors of differing technologies - light water, fast breeder and advanced heavy water - poses a challenge to the sector's regulator, a senior official said Tuesday.

'We have good experience and well-documented safety measures pertaining to pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR). The new challenge is from imported light water reactors and the domestically designed fast breeder and advanced heavy water reactors,' said R.I. Gujarathi, director, Nuclear Projects Safety in the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

Speaking on the challenges of atomic energy regulation in the changed Indian context at the Asian Nuclear Prospects (2010) a conference on nuclear energy in Asia, he said India is going to increase its atomic power capacity nearly ten-fold over the next ten years but the series of imported light water reactors will have to adhere to the current Indian regulations.

'The challenge is in the differences in standards and codes and their validation between the Indian equipments and that of imported ones,' Gujarathi said.

According to industry officials, it will be the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) that will discuss with AERB on the safety aspects of the imported reactors in its capacity as the plant operator.

The AERB is looking at the feasibility of drafting technology neutral safety rules, Gujarathi said, adding the regulator will be doubling the head count to 400 during the 12th Five Year Plan period.

He said AERB is also planning to set up regional regulatory centres in south, east and north India to effectively monitor the growing number of diagnostic labs using radio nuclides - material used for diagnostic and treatment of ailments.

'We are also pursuing with the state governments to set up a directorate of radiation safety,' he added.