Q. Facts on Chernobyl

Q. Can a Chernobyl type accident take place in Indian Nuclear Power Plants ?

Nuclear power has a very good safety record for a period spanning more than three decades. The Three Mile Island (TMI) accident in March, 1979 and the Chernobyl accident in April, 1986, Have raised apprehensions in the minds of the public all over the world. In the case of TMI, no radiation injury had occured to any member of the Public. In fact all the safety systems had worked as designed and no radioactivity was released to the atmosphere. At chernobyl, 31 people died and they are all plant personnel. However, it must be recognised that the Chernobyl accident occured due to the negligence of operaters who violated the safety procedures. Besides, the Chernobyl reactor is a totally different type. It employed Graphite as a moderator. Graphite is a form of carbon and its combustible property contributed to explosion in the reactor core. Such a sequence of events in the Nuclear plants is not possible and explosion in the core is ruled out as it is cooled and moderated by heavy water. Adequate safety features in the plant are provided to ensure its safe operation. Paramount importance is given in setting up of nuclear power installations, to the safety of operating staff, public and environment. Safety experts and regulatory personnel are associated at all --- missioning and operation of nuclear power plants. Thus Chernobyl type accident is ruled out in Indian Nuclear Power Plants.

Q. What are India's available energy resources ?

India's available energy resources are shown in the following table : Identified Energy Reserves
Coal 186 billion tonnes
Lignite 5,060 million tonnes
Crude Oil 728 million tonnes
Natural Gas 686 billion Cu-m
Uranium 78,000 tonnes
Thorium 3,63,000 tonnes
Hydro 84,000 MW at 60 % PLF
Renewables Biomass 6000 MWe
Wind, Solar etc. 20,000 MWe


Q. What is India's 3 - stage nuclear power programme ?

In view of the limited fossil fuel availability with the country, the relevance of Nuclear Power in meeting the short and long term needs of our energy was recognised right at the initial stage. From the very beginning, as a long term strategy, the Nuclear Power Programme formulated by Dr. Homi Bhabha embarked on the three stage nuclear power programme, linking the fuel cycle of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) and Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) for Judicious utilisation of our limited reserves of Uranium and vast Thorium reserves. The emphasis of the programme was self-reliance and thorium utilisation as a long term objective. The PHWR was chosen due to extensive research and development facilities covering diverse areas for supporting technology absorption.

The 3-stage of our Nuclear Power Programme are :

  • Stage-I : envisages, construction of Natural Uranium, Heavy Water Moderated and Cooled Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). Spent fuel from these reactors is reprocessed to obtain Plutonium.
  • Stage-II : evisages, construction of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) fuelled by Plutonium produced in stage-I. These reactors would also breed U-233 from Thorium.
  • Stage-III : would comprise power reactors using U-233 / Thorium as fuel.

View 3 - stage nuclear power programme demo

Q. How is the environment surrounding a nuclear plant monitored ?

This is done by the Environmental Survey Laboratory (ESL) set up well before starting the operation of the plant. The ESL collects data on forest, flora and fauna, marine products, food and air etc., to set up base level data on their quality prior to commencement of the operation of the plant. Samples are drawn and regularly analysed to ascertain the status on a continuos basis. The ESL functions independent of plant authorities and the data collected is checked by the regulatory authorities for control purposes.

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