MOSCOW: New, more advanced and safe fuel will be reloaded into the two running reactors of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project or KNPP and also into the subsequent units being built in Tamil Nadu with the technical assistance of the Russian national atomic power corporation Rosatom, according to a senior company official.
Alexander Ugryumov, Vice President (R&D) of Rosatom’s fuel arm TVEL, told IANS in an interview in Moscow that the company hoped to conclude the final agreements for supply of the new fuel with the KNPP builder, the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India or NPCIL.
Rosatom is also the equipment supplier for the KNPP, whose first two units of 1,000 MW each have already been commissioned.
Ugryumov said that at the time of negotiating for units 1 and 2, the company only had the international licence for the UTVS fuel loaded into the VVER-1000 type reactors.
“The UTVS fuel was applied to all international projects of Rosatom, including units 1 and 2 of the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in China and unit 1 of the Bushehr NPP in Iran,” he said.
“Now we have the licence to sell TVS-2M which is the reference solution for all power units with VVER-1000 reactors which Rosatom builds abroad. From the very beginning, TVS-2M will be loaded into the reactors of Kudankulam’s units 3, 4, 5 and 6.”
Ugryumov said the TVS-2M fuel assembly offers increased uranium capacity, improved heat reliability and enhanced operational safety, while supply agreements have already been reached in principle.
“Upgrading to TVS-2M will help improve efficiency of the Indian VVER units as well as reduce the cost of electricity. Being more robust, with higher stiffness, this fuel bundle does not bow in the reactor and preserves its initial shape, making operations safer and reliable,” he said.
“While UTVS are packed with 490 kg of enriched uranium pellets, TVS-2M bundles weigh 527 kg. For a nuclear plant operator it gives a lot of options in terms of an extension of a fuel cycle length from 250 up to 510 effective full-power days,” the official said.
The new solution is also more efficient in terms of economy.
“This is because you save the amount of money spent on the scheduled outages, while still providing the highest safety standards,” Ugryumov said.
“Secondly, with more uranium mass you will need less fuel bundles to generate electricity, so after the end of the operation there will be less spent nuclear fuel.”
With the expiry of the original 10-year fuel supply agreement for KNPP last year, Mr Ugryumov hoped to have the engineering contract signed this year for the introduction of TVS-2M fuel in the already commissioned first two units at Kudankulam.
“We hope that this year we’ll have the contract signed for the introduction of TVS-2M for Units 1 and 2. The TVS-2M allows the option of shifting the operations from 12-month to an 18-month fuel cycle,” the official said.
“With the advanced fuel, we will have three cycles lasting a total of 54 months, instead of the current duration of 36 months,” he added.
Indo-Russian nuclear cooperation was certain to have figured when Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an informal one-day summit at the Black Sea resort of Sochi in the second half of May to discuss the situation arising out of the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposition of sanctions, which is going to affect Indian crude oil imports from the Gulf nation.
US slaps sanctions on Myanmar army chief over Rohingya abuses
Washington: The United States announced sanctions on Myanmar’s military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders due to their role in the “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya minority.
The State Department said it took action against army chief Min Aung Hlaing and three others after finding credible evidence they were involved in the violence two years ago that led about 740,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh.
“With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” he said in a statement.
Also sanctioned were Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo and Brigadier General Aung Aung as well as the families of all four officers.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar refuses to grant the mostly Muslim Rohingya citizenship or basic rights and refers to them as “Bengalis,” inferring that the Rohingya are undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh.
UN investigators say the violence warrants the prosecution of top generals for “genocide” and the International Criminal Court has started a preliminary probe.
Pompeo, issuing a statement during a major meeting at the State Department on religious freedom, repeated the 2017 finding of his predecessor Rex Tillerson that the killings amounted to “ethnic cleansing” – while stopping short of using the term genocide.
The sanctions notably do not impact Aung San Suu Kyi, the former political prisoner who has risen to become the country’s de-facto civilian ruler.
The Nobel laureate has been criticised over her “indifference” to the atrocities committed by the military against the Rohingya, considered “the most prosecuted minority in the world”.
The sanctions are the most visible sign of US disappointment with Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since it launched political reforms in 2011, with the military rulers reconciling with Washington and eventually allowing an elected political leadership.
Matthew Smith, the cofounder and Chief Executive Officer at Fortify Rights, welcomed the sanctions but said the US could do more.
“This is good news if this is the first measure the US will take in addressing genocide in Myanmar against the Rohingya people. It’s bad news if this is all secretary Pompeo and the US administration are planning to do. We are hopeful they will do more,” Smith told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC.
“The impact [of the sanctions] can be serious. This will flag the responsibility of these individuals for international prosecutors, for example, the International Criminal Court, and it will give pause to business leaders going to Myanmar in doing business with military-owned enterprises.
US House Condemns Trump ‘Racist’ Tweets In Extraordinary Rebuke
WASHINGTON: In a remarkable political repudiation, the Democratic-led U S House voted to condemn President Donald Trump’s “racist comments” against four congresswomen of colour, despite protestations by Trump’s Republican congressional allies and his own insistence he hasn’t “a racist bone in my body.”
Two days after Trump tweeted that four Democratic freshmen should “go back ” to their home countries though all are citizens and three were born in the USA Democrats muscled the resolution through the chamber by 240-187 over the near-solid GOP opposition.
The rebuke was an embarrassing one for Trump even though it carries no legal repercussions, but the highly partisan roll calls suggests it is unlikely to cost him with his die-hard conservative base.
Despite a lobbying effort by Trump and party leaders for a unified GOP front, four Republicans voted to condemn his remarks: moderate Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who is retiring.
Also backing the measure was Michigan’s independent Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP this month after becoming the party’s sole member of Congress to back a Trump impeachment inquiry.
Before the showdown roll call, Trump characteristically plunged forward with time-tested insults. He accused his four outspoken critics of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician” and added, “If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” echoing taunts long unleashed against political dissidents rather than opposing parties’ lawmakers.
The president was joined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and other top Republicans in trying to redirect the focus from Trump’s original tweets, which for three days have consumed Washington and drawn widespread condemnation.
Instead, they tried playing offense by accusing the four congresswomen among the Democrats’ most left-leaning members and ardent Trump critics of socialism, an accusation that’s already a central theme of the GOP’s 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.
Even after two-and-a-half years of Trump’s turbulent governing style, the spectacle of a president futilely labouring to head off a House vote essentially proclaiming him to be a racist was extraordinary.
Underscoring the stakes, Republicans formally objected after Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said during a floor speech that Trump’s tweets were “racist.” Led by Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, Republicans moved to have her words stricken from the record, a rare procedural rebuke.
After a delay exceeding 90 minutes, No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Pelosi had indeed violated a House rule against characterising an action as racist.
Hoyer was presiding after Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri stormed away from the presiding officer’s chair, lamenting, “We want to just fight,” apparently aimed at Republicans.
Death toll due to Nepal floods reaches 67
Kathmandu: The death toll from the monsoon floods and landslides in Nepal has increased to 67, while 32 people were reported missing and over 40 others injured, officials said.
The Nepal Police said in a statement that the victims comprised 41 men and 26 women, reports Xinhua news agency.
“At least 1,445 people from different districts have been rescued successfully and evacuated to safer destinations,” the statement said.
According to the Home Ministry, around 35,000 people were affected by the disasters particularly in the low-lying areas known as Terai region. More than 20 of Nepal`s 77 districts were worst-hit due to the floods and landslides.
The Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force were deployed in the disaster-hit districts to carry out rescue and relief operations.
Residents were displaced after the swollen rivers breached the embankment and gushed into human settlements, especially in Province 2. Over 13,000 families were displaced in Province 2 alone where around 3,500 houses were completely damaged.
The provincial governments announced separate relief packages for the victims, including cash for the families of those who lost their members and free treatment of the injured. The local governments in coordination with different agencies distributed food items, clothes and tarpaulins to the highly affected communities.
The Health Emergency Operation Centre said that different medical teams with doctors were mobilized in the hard-hit districts to ensure health services to the affected people.
“There is a high risk of possible outbreaks of different water-borne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, dengue, typhoid among others,” Ghanashyam Pokharel, health official at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, told Xinhua.
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