The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) plans to expand the Tarapur Atomic Power Station with two new reactors, which will have a capacity of about 1,400 MW. Indigenously developed Advance Heavy Water Reactors could be installed at the site.
While plant operator NPCIL refused to confirm the development, a senior official of the Department of Atomic Energy told BusinessLine that an expansion plan was on the drawing board. Since Tarapur is one of the oldest nuclear plants in the country it has adequate land for further expansion.
The Tarapur plant, located about 145 km away from Mumbai, already has four installed reactors with a capacity of 1,400 MW. In 1968, two reactors were installed and in 2006, two more were added. The new reactors being planned will cost about ₹16,800 crore, as the approximate cost per MW is about ₹12 crore. The plant came up at a huge social cost as a number of villages had to be relocated. The problems of rehabilitation have still not been fully addressed by NPCIL.
Local residents and environmentalists are opposing the new reactors, as they fear that six reactors in one location could pose danger to the population. Any kind of accident could set off a cataclysmic event.
Local resident Arvind Patil said that six reactors in one location was a dangerous proposition. Therefore, villagers plans to protest against this move by NPCIL. When the environmental public hearing would be held for the new reactors, villagers are going to strongly protests, against the NPCIL, he said.
In the past, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board A Gopalakrishnan had heavily criticised the NPCIL on a number of occasions. Gopalakrishnan’s contention has been that reactor I and II, which are boiling water reactors, need to be immediately shut as they have outlived their utility. The reactors are also facing myriad technical problems. A similar make of reactors were involved in the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011.
Anti-nuclear activist Satyajit Chavan of Konkan Bachao Samiti (KBS) said that a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility at the plant site deals with plutonium, one of the most toxic substances know to mankind. New reactors will only add to the danger, he said..
However, local Member of Parliament from Tarapur and senior BJP leader Chintaman Vanga said that the initial groundwork for new rectors has already started. This will provide employment to local youth. Since 1968, the plant has been functioning without any major leakage of radioactivity, he pointed out.