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Situation under control at Kalpakkam: Kakodkar

By T.S. Subramanian

CHENNAI, DEC. 27. Five employees of the nuclear facilities at Kalpakkam, about 60 km from Chennai, lost their lives on Sunday morning when they were on the beach in the employees' township, about six km from the plant. They were drowned when giant waves slammed the township.

One of those killed was A. Selvaraj, Design Engineer, Reactor Engineering Group, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR).

Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), who visited the nuclear facilities at Kalpakkam and the township today, said: "Five employees have been killed. They were all in the township. They were essentially outdoors and swept away. Dr. Selvaraj was in a mass going on in the church. The situation is under control."

Water supply restored

Electricity and water supply to the township had been restored, he said. There was a limited restoration of telecommunication supply. A team of doctors from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Mumbai,were in the township to provide support for the medical staff attending on the employees and their families. Buildings close to the coast suffered damage.

The AEC Chairman said the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) at Kalpakkam, which has two Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors, was all right.

On shutdown mode

"Nothing happened to the plant. The second reactor was quickly shut down. The first reactor was not in operation because it was undergoing retubing. A massive pump-house drew water from the sea for condenser cooling. When the water level in the sea rose, the water level in the pump-house also went up. The operator in the control room detected this and stopped the reactor. So it is in the safe shutdown mode now," he said.

According to him nothing happened to the turbine or the reactor buildings of the two reactors. "Both the units are safe," he said.

'No radiation leak'

The construction site of the 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) was flooded. Water was being pumped out. Dr. Kakodkar firmly denied that there was any leak from the reactors. "There is absolutely no radiation leak" he said.

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