India steps up safety at nuclear plants
India is increasing safety features at all of its nuclear power plants to try to prevent a crisis like Japan's caused by seismic activity or an extended power loss, a government official said Thursday.
Assessors who inspected India's 20 nuclear power plants found the structures had adequate capability to handle severe natural events, such as earthquakes or tsunamis, said Shreyans K. Jain, chairman of Nuclear Power Corporation of India LTD.
The recommendations made after the inspections include:
- augmenting water supplies for cooling
- making the primary containment inert with nitrogen
- installing new technologies to ensure automatic shutdowns in case of a major earthquake
- providing an alert mechanism for tsunamis
At least six units at two of India's nuclear power stations would be at tsunami risk. Since power outages occur frequently in India, all the country's nuclear plants have backup arrangements to offset extended power losses, Indian nuclear scientists say.
The government's plan to spend $175 billion on nuclear power generation by 2030 has made India the world's second-fastest-growing nuclear industry and attracted major producers.
While the Fukushima disaster has many in India questioning the wisdom of building new plants, the government is going ahead, insisting they are urgently needed to power the country's galloping economic growth.