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Leakage capped, emergency ends; no staff member affected by radiation, says spokesman; will take two-three weeks for plant to function again
- Thursday, October 20, 2011 - From Print Edition


KARACHI: Emergency was declared at KANUPP (Karachi Nuclear Power Plant) after leakage of heavy water from a feeder pipe of the reactor. However, according to a spokesman of the KANUPP, the situation is now under control and there is no cause for concern.


Emergency was imposed at 12 midnight Tuesday after a leakage, which had developed in the primary heat transport system in the nuclear plant at Hawkesbay, came to light. The emergency continued till 7am Wednesday when the situation was brought under control. Initial reports say the staff at the plant are safe from the effects of radiation.


It may be stated that the plant was closed since October 5, 2011 for necessary repairs. Sources said one of the channels used to carry heavy water for cooling had to be opened for checking as the temperature was increasing because of less flow of water in it. The channel was brought to normal after repairs.


However, when the pump started again, heavy water leaked from the feeder pipe after which the pipe was immediately closed down. The leakage decreased. Afterwards, staff in protective gear isolated the damaged portion of the plant. By Wednesday morning,uniforms isolated the damaged portion of the plant. And by the morning the effects of leakage were wiped off and emergency was withdrawn. It may take 2-3 weeks for the plant to function again.


It may be recalled that a similar incident of leakage of heavy water took place some 20 years ago; then too, the staff remained safe from radiation. The plant was installed in 1971 with the cooperation of Canada and generated 137MW of electricity in the beginning. The life of the plant was said to be 30 years but Pakistani engineers had prolonged it after taking necessary steps. The plant was supplying 80 MW of power to KESC but was closed down for necessary repairs a few days ago.


Director General KANUPP Javed Iqbal declined to give any details when contacted, saying the situation was reported to the head office in Islamabad and they could not comment on it. Deputy Plant Manager Azhar Zia said such minor leakages occurred in many plants around the world. However he said that the spokesman would give the viewpoint of the organisation.


Tariq Rasheed, the spokesman, said that the situation was under control and there was nothing to worry about. He said that the plant was closed down on October 5 for usual maintenance and emergency was declared on Oct 19 after leakage of heavy water was reported. The entire supporting staff was summoned and the leakage was controlled and the emergency withdrawn. During this period no radioactivity was recorded, nor was any member affected, he confirmed.