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SC Extends Time Till April 2022 For Setting up of Facility at Kudankulam Plant

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the submission of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the corporation, that the deadline for setting up of the storage facility be extended till April 30, 2022.

PTI

Updated:July 2, 2018, 9:12 PM IST
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SC Extends Time Till April 2022 For Setting up of Facility at Kudankulam Plant
File Photo of the Supreme Court of India.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to set up a safe storage facility for radioactive spent fuel at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu by April 2022.

The apex court, which had earlier granted time till May 30 this year for the purpose, extended the time for the NPCIL to set up the 'Away From Reactor Facility' (AFR) to store the spent nuclear fuel.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the submission of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the corporation, that the deadline for setting up of the storage facility be extended till April 30, 2022.

The bench, however, made it clear that no further extension of time shall be granted to the corporation for setting up of the AFR at the nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, told the bench that spent fuel was the nuclear fuel which was no longer used for generating power.

"The Union of India says that by 2022, they will develop away-from-reactor (AFR) facility. The spent fuel is still radioactive and it generates lot of heat. If they are storing spent fuel near the reactor, it may cause an incident," he said while referring to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Bhushan said at Fukushima also, spent fuel was stored which was emitted in the environment causing grave danger and even contaminating the water there after the 2011 incident.

"They cannot go on storing spent fuel. It has be deposited away from site and that too in deep underground," he said, adding "can they store spent fuel at the plant which will increase the risk of causing incident".

"It would be essential that for the time being, the reactor be shut down," he said.

Bhushan also said that since 2013, the power plant has been shut over 70 times "due to one problem or the other" and nowhere in the world, a nuclear power plant functioned like this.

Mehta countered the claims and said that the Kudankulam plant cannot cause any catastrophe. He said that shut down of nuclear power plants were usual across the world.

The apex court had earlier allowed the Centre to operationalise the nuclear plant, subject to complying with various safety measures including the safe storage of the spent nuclear fuel.

NPCIL had earlier told the court that KKNPP has advanced safety features and it was designed to withstand earthquakes and other such threats.

In 2013, the apex court gave its nod to the commissioning of the plant in Tamil Nadu but asked the government and the NPCIL to find suitably safe areas to dispose the nuclear waste. It also issued guidelines on commissioning, safety and security and environmental issues concerning the nuclear plant.

The project is an Indo-Russian joint venture to establish a nuclear power plant with six units in Tamil Nadu.

NPCIL, in a plea filed in the apex court, has said two units of the plant were under operation and another two were under advanced stage for commencement of construction.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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