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Chennai, Dec 9 – In a comprehensive test of emergency preparedness, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) successfully conducted an on-site emergency exercise at its power facilities in Kalpakkam, located approximately 70 km from Chennai. The exercise, which lasted about 150 minutes, aimed to assess the readiness of the Kalpakkam DAE Centre in handling potential emergencies, meeting the stringent requirements set by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

The exercise, involving the participation of more than 7,500 personnel on-site, focused on the evacuation procedures. Site personnel were successfully evacuated within a time span of 1½ hours, showcasing the efficiency and responsiveness of the emergency preparedness plan. The entire site emergency exercise was completed in 2½ hours, instilling confidence in the capabilities of the DAE in managing and responding to events at nuclear facilities.

Kalpakkam DAE Centre encompasses multiple facilities, including the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), operated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), the under-construction Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor BHAVINI, and Nuclear Recycle Board. The annual site emergency exercise is a crucial component of the emergency preparedness plan, demonstrating the commitment to safety and the ability to handle unforeseen events.

Sudhir B. Shelke, MAPS Station Director and Site Emergency Director, Kalpakkam DAE Centre, highlighted the objectives of the exercise, emphasizing the importance of assessing the preparedness of the Kalpakkam DAE Centre and the plant management in addressing remote emergency situations. While acknowledging that such occurrences are highly unlikely due to the defense-in-depth philosophy in the design and operation of the plant, the exercise serves as a proactive measure to ensure continuous improvement in emergency response capabilities.

The exercise, overseen by the Kalpakkam Emergency Committee (KEC) and conducted as an unannounced event, received observations from senior officials, including Directors of Kalpakkam DAE Centre units and representatives from the AERB. The successful completion of the exercise not only met the AERB requirements for emergency preparedness at nuclear facilities but also reinforced the confidence in the DAE’s ability to handle any events at nuclear facilities.

This annual exercise is a testament to the commitment to safety and the continuous enhancement of emergency response capabilities at Kalpakkam DAE Centre, aligning with the highest standards in nuclear facility management.