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India begins building 25th nuclear power plant

NEW DELHI, July 18 (UPI) -- India is moving forward with nuclear power generation despite worldwide concerns about the safety of civilian nuclear power electricity generation after the March disaster in Japan's Fukushima complex.

India has begun constructing its 25th nuclear power plant, the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, the Press Trust of India reported Monday.

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Ground has been broken for the 700 MW indigenous pressurized heavy water reactor 40 miles from Kota in the northwestern part of India. RAPS operates six PHWRs at the facility, five of which are producing more than 1,180 MW, India's largest nuclear power electrical generation from a single facility.

The new complex will be RAPS' seventh nuclear power plant built at the Rajasthan site.

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The RAPS inauguration ceremony was attended by India's Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee and Nuclear Power Corp. of India Limited Chairman and Managing Director Shreyans Kumar Jain.

The 700-megawatt PHWR was designed by NPCIL by scaling up the design of its 540-megawatt PHWRs operating at Tarapur since 2005.

The new RAPS facility is expected to be completed by 2016.

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"The 540-megawatt PHWR at Tarapur was built by NPCIL in a record time of 4 years and 10 months," Banerjee said. "We will try to beat that record."

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RAPS operates six PHWR units, the first of which are producing more than 1,180 megawatts, India's largest nuclear production of electricity from a single NPP complex.

Besides working to bring its new facility online, RAPS has begun initial excavation work for an eighth 700 megawatt PHWR onsite.

India's civilian nuclear program is contentious because the country has never signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, which guarantees signatories the option to approach providers of nuclear technology worldwide for assistance in constructing NPPs.

As India isn't a signatory of the NPT, development of its civilian industry to construct NPPS was hampered until 2008, when the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the oversight organization that controls global nuclear commerce, granted India a waiver on for the transference of sensitive potential dual use" nuclear technologies, whose end byproducts might be used to fuel covert military nuclear programs.

The RAPS construction highlights India's determination to embrace nuclear power generation as a cost-effective solution despite the chilling worldwide effect of the March nuclear debacle at Japan's Fukushima nuclear complex.

"We were to launch this a few months ago but the regulator has taken time to see that post-Fukushima all the possible safety measures are satisfactory," NPCIL Finance Director J.K. Ghai said.

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