The Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka has achieved a historic feat. The Unit 1 of the plant, run by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, has the best record of continuous operation among Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) and second among all nuclear power stations across the globe. The announcement was made by state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals LImited which provided the hardware of steam turbine generator for the utility unit.
BHEL, in a statement on Tuesday, said that the unit had been functional since May 13, 2016, and crossed the record of 894 days held by Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (PNGS) in Canada. The unit 1 is an indigenous PHWR and is also fuelled by domestic fuel. Earlier in June, the same unit had set a new record of operating for 766 days continuously, beating Unit 5 of Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (2014). Another 28 units have surpassed the mark of running continuously for one year.
The Kaiga plant had started commercial operations in November 2000, after being commissioned in 1989 and currently supplies power not only to the state but also to neighbouring states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and the Union Territory of Puducherry. In all, the plant set up 56 km away from Karwar, currently has four functional units generating 220 MW of power. 33% of the power generated is reserved for Karnataka.
However, the expansion of the plant adding two more units has been opposed by a section of locals and environmentalists owing to environmental and immediate health concerns.
In a study, the Tata Memorial Centre found that in the years 2010 to 2013, the number of cancer patients shot up by 300% in the vicinity of the plant. A compilation of data of 30 plants showed that while there were only 70-80 cancer patients in Karwar prior to 2010, the numbers increased to 316 during 2010-2013. The study was commissioned after the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and the state government gave in to the demands of a public pressure group to conduct population-based cancer registries.