Almost given up for dead three years back, the second unit of the Rajasthan atomic power station (RAPS-2) is now expected to resume power generation by March. Unit 1 is also on course for restart.

More than 250 of the 306 coolant channels have been replaced. The rest of the job was to be completed before the end of the year. Once the present exercise is over, the unit has to undergo all procedures mandatory for the commissioning of a new reactor.

As directed by the Atomic Energy Regulation Board (AERB), a high pressure heavy-water injection system has also been installed so that, in the event of any emergency related to the cooling system, 50 t of heavy water could be pumped in instantly. Other additions included a supplemental control room, another on-site diesel generator to power essential services, segregation of power supply lines and instrumentation panels. “The reactor can now run for 30 more years”, says the project director, V K Chaturvedi. The unit will now operate to its present capacity of 200 MWe.

The reactor was shut down in September 1994 and staff trained on a life-size mock-up over several months before the fuel channels were removed.

UPDATE On KAIGA The two units of the Kaiga nuclear project are now expected to be ready for commercial operation by the end of 1999, according to Y B R Prasad, chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corp Ltd (NPCL).

Prasad said that the AERB, while clearing the units for further work, has made certain recommendation regarding the design of the containment dome, following the partial collapse of unit 1. These include increasing the thickness from 340 mm to 440 mm, strengthening the design with additional radial members, using higher strength cables, and improving the layout and concrete work.

NPCL, which has taken responsibility for the dome incident, said that the contractors that were responsible would be penalised as per their contractual obligations after the completion of the new work. There were various changes made among project staff, particularly those in senior positions in the construction and civil engineering wings.