Second unit of MAPS to be functional by June end

Chennai, May 8 (IANS) India's atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) is likely to install a new transformer for its second unit at Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) that was shut down last month, an official said.

The second unit of MAPS was shut down last month after its transformer was damaged in fire.

"We are on the look-out for a transformer and in ten days the supplier will be finalised. Meanwhile, other connected works are in progress," MAPS station director T.J. Kotteeswaran told IANS over phone from Kalpakkam, around 70 km from here.

The burnt transformer is around 30 years old, and was supplied by Asian power equipment major Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL). Similar transformers are not in its production line.

Speaking to IANS, a BHEL official said: "We have located a transformer that can be modified to suit MAPS. The transformer was slated for Syria. But owing to the problems in that country the shipment has been delayed at the request of the Syrian client. We will supply that transformer to MAPS with slight modifications."

According to the BHEL official who prefers anonymity, if all goes well, the transformer should be functional at MAPS by the end of June.

"The cost of the transformer and its transport (from Jhansi) will together be around Rs.15 crore," he added.

The MAPS, run by NPCIL, has two reactors of 220 MW each, but they have been functioning below their rated capacity owing to paucity of fuel.

On April 15 morning when the reactor was operating at 110 MW, the unit tripped due to a fault in the generator transformer's high voltage bushing and the reactor was shut down. The unit was restarted prior to that after a 40-day maintenance shutdown.

Due to the generator transformer failure, the reactor turbine stopped and the reactor was gradually shut down following due procedure.

Kotteeswaran said the first unit is operating normally, feeding 170 MW to the grid.

In August 2012, two reactors at MAPS shut down automatically after a critical component (breaker) in the 230 KV switchyard tripped, resulting in power supply failure to the reactors.

Both reactors shut down their operations and restarted a couple of days later.

According to Kotteeswaran, the MAPS' operational licence is valid till 2014.

Every nuclear power plant in India has to renew its operational licence once in five years.

After the accident in Fukushima reactors in Japan, additional safety measures have been suggested by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to NPCIL for its units.

The NPCIL has also been asked for an implementation roadmap. Till such time, the units are given limited period licence.