Experts say that ‘strain’ is the most important criterion which directly governs the service life of nuclear power structures.


New Delhi: “Strain” monitoring equipment or sensors that are installed at unit 1 and unit 2 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, have not been functioning properly for the last two years, The Sunday Guardian has learnt.

The primary function of these “strain” monitoring equipment is to enable the timely detection of any condition or behaviour that would signal any deterioration in the nuclear power plant structure and provide an early warning to ensure the safety of the structure.

The Sunday Guardian, over a period of 12 days, sent emails and SMSs to officers concerned of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which is responsible for managing the Kudankulam power plant, seeking their reaction on the issue, but no response was shared. The Sunday Guardian also messaged Sunil Srivastava, the Chief Public Information Officer of NPCIL, but he, too, did not respond. The officials of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), too, did not share their response to the questions sent by this newspaper.

According to informed sources, these sensors, the installed number of which is in double digits, have stopped providing readings with regard to the “stress and strain” on the power plant structure.

The number of such malfunctioning monitoring equipment is roughly 17% of the total such sensors installed at the two units. These sensors work in a real-time environment and give continuous reading as to the “condition” of the structure.

Experts say that “strain” is the most important criterion which directly governs the service life of nuclear power structures and any failure to monitor and measure it may lead to failure of the structure.

These sensors monitor temperature, thermal expansion, sensitivity to assess deformation in the structure due to internal and external factors.

Experts say that these sensors are very important when it comes to making sure that there is no nuclear-related accident at the site, as they give, well in advance, readings which are helpful in assessing the dangers, if any.

While unit 1 of the Kudankulam power plant was synchronised with the Southern power grid in October 2013, unit II started generating electricity from August 2016.