In India, the project for the largest nuclear power plant in the world is taking shape

It only took a week after Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s visit to India for the Jaitapur nuclear power plant to progress.

Friday, April 23, EDF announced that it had filed “The engaging technical-commercial offer” concerning the project of the century, six pressurized water reactors of the EPR type on the shores of the Arabian Sea, halfway between Bombay and the beaches of Goa. A project which goes back to fifteen years and which was initially carried by Areva and its leader of the time, Anne Lauvergeon, with the support of Nicolas Sarkozy.

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It would be the largest civilian atomic infrastructure in the world, with an installed capacity of 9,600 megawatts, making it possible to supply electric current to the impressive number of 70 million households. This offer should initially have been submitted at the end of 2018 to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) group, the future operator of the plant. But the approach of the Indian general elections of spring 2019 had made it inopportune in the eyes of the nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, candidate for his return to power.

If the drafting of the document, more than 7,000 pages, finally took much longer than expected, it is also because of the sensitivity of its central subject: the distribution of responsibilities between the French electrician and the public operator. Indian. In this case, EDF intends to impose its conditions. While the company chaired by Jean-Bernard Lévy originally said that it would build the entire Jaitapur plant, it now intends to supply only “Engineering studies and equipment”, without being “Neither investor in the project nor responsible for construction”.

Proven seismic risk

She does not wear “Guarantor of the performance of each of the six EPR units” that on “For a limited period”, leaving to its future operator, NPCIL, the responsibility “Construction and commissioning”, as well as obtaining “Approval” EPR technology from the Indian nuclear safety authority. The subject is fundamental since it exonerates EDF in the event of an accident, once the plant has come into operation.

However, the Jaitapur cliff presents a proven seismic risk, as has been demonstrated for almost half a century by multiple reports from local authorities. In September 2019, the National Disaster Management Authority confirmed the potential danger. The land, made up of degraded laterite like the entire Ratnagiri district, renowned for its mango production, is crossed by a deep fault. It would therefore be the Indians who would take the risk of building the power station there.

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