US firm to develop site for Mithivirdi nuclear plant

Over two years after the Centre gave its nod for a nuclear plant at Mithivirdi in Bhavnagar, the place is abuzz with activity.

The draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report being prepared by Engineers India Limited (EIL), a PSU, is on the verge of completion even as two CSIR laboratories are separately drawing up the project's seismology and oceanography reports, officials in charge of the proposed 6,900 megawatt (MW) nuclear power plant here, said.

On Wednesday, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Company announced it had signed an MoU with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) for the site development work "supporting future construction of AP 1000 nuclear power plants".

According to the company, AP 1000 nuclear power plants rely on gravity, natural circulation and compressed gases to keep the core and containment from overheating. "Even with no operator action and a complete loss of all on-site and off-site AC power, an AP1000 reactor will safely shut down and remain cool for seven days without the need for auxiliary water supply."

A statement released by the company says the "agreement represents significant progress toward the realisation of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement signed in 2008".

Meanwhile, on the ground, NPCIL has been holding meetings with sarpanchs of villages near the site. The PSU has organised blood donation camps and even contributed Rs 25 lakh to the Kanya Kelavni, the chief minister's Girls Education Fund, on the eve of this year's Republic Day celebrations in Bhavnagar in the presence of the CM, Governor and several ministers.

The project, which has seen some muted opposition — MJP chief Gordhan Zadaphia had organised a meet at Mithivirdi in May this year, is expected to be completed in three phases, with each phase comprising the erection of two 1,150-MW units.

Interestingly, Chief Minister Narendra Modi had, in a recent interview, claimed that the Prime Minister had failed to implement the nuclear deal for which he was ready to sacrifice his government.

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