Draft approval for new Indian nuclear site

28 January 2013

A new six-unit nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat will be "environmentally benign and sustainable" while benefitting the region both economically and socially, said a draft assessment on behalf of the proposing company.

The study was carried out for Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) by Engineers India Ltd. (EIL), itself an Indian government-led organisation, to set out to establish baseline environmental data for the project to build up to six imported 1000 MWe light water reactors at the coastal site 40 kilometers from Bhavnagar. It also evaluated potential impacts of the project and formulated environmental management plans for both the construction and operation phase. EIL collected data within a ten-kilometer radius of the site over three seasons (summer, post-monsoon and winter) from December 2010 to November 2011 to prepare its report.

Mithi Virdi received approval in principle from the Indian government as a site for up to six imported 1000 MWe light water reactors in 2009. In 2012 US reactor vendor Westinghouse signed a memorandum of understanding with NPCIL agreeing to negotiate an early works agreement for the construction of up to six AP1000 units at the site. According to the preliminary environmental impact assesment (EIA), the project is not anticipated to have any significant impact on local flora, fauna or human activities. The report details the planned systems to manage gaseous, liquid and solid radioactive wastes and keep discharges below the required limits in normal operation as well as the passive safety design and engineered safety features of the plant.

Based on its findings, the report concluded that the planned Mithi Virdi project would be "environmentally benign and sustainable" and would provide "much needed electricity with minimal environmental impact". It noted that the project will benefit the region generally and contribute to improved social conditions, with NPCIL contributing towards "uplifting" of the surrounding areas and positive impacts including employment, better transport facilities, and improvements to basic education, health and infrastructure in the area.

The power plant project is expected to be completed in three stages, with the first two units pencilled in for completion in 2019-2020, the second two units in 2021-2022 and the final stage completed in 2023-24. The cost is still under negotiation.

Mithi Virdi is one of four sites for which NPCIL is currently involved in pre-project activities. The others are Gorakhpur (Haryana), earmarked for four Indian-designed 700 MWe pressurized heavy-water reactors (PHWRs); Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), where six GE-Hitachi ESBWR units are planned; and Chutaka (Madhya Pradesh), earmarked for two indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs. A final EIA for the Gorakhpur plant has been submitted to India's Ministry of Environment and Forests for appraisal, while preliminary EIAs are still in preparation for Kovvada and Chutaka.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Filed under: New build, Construction, India