NUCLEAR FISSION FOR POWER GENERATION
URANIUM-GENERATING ELECTRICITY IS FAIRLY CHEAP: DG KNPC
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan 21 - 27, 2008
Honoured with Tamgha-e-Imtiaz in 1993 for making remarkable performances in the field of atomic energy in Pakistan, Engr. Waqar Murtaza Butt has been serving Karachi Nuclear Power Complex (KNPC) since about 30 years. He is presently working as Director General, KNPC. Karachi Nuclear Power Plan (KANUPP), which has a single unit having current electricity production capacity of approximately 100 mega watts, is a part of KNPC and is owned and operated by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). It is located at Paradise Point on the Arabian Sea Coast, about 15 miles to the west of Karachi. It started its commercial operation in 1972 with an initial total gross capacity of 137 Mega Watts. Like other electricity supplier of KESC, the atomic plant is generating electricity through nuclear fission process. While talking to PAGE, DG KNPC said except generation of heat to operate electricity production plant through nuclear energy, rest of the process is quite analogous to thermal, hydro, wind, and other alternative methods of producing electricity power.
Following his graduation in BE-Mechanical Engineering in 1971 from NED University, he was qualified for completing his masters in nuclear engineering from Quaid-e-Azam University on PAEC's scholarship programme. At that time, PAEC was not awarding degree. Therefore, Qauid-e-Azam University facilitated degree-warding study of PAEC similar to present NED-KANUPP understanding. The PAEC offers jobs in addition to jobs to graduated engineers and MSC physics at its designated facilities. Now, it has got degree awarding status by government of Pakistan. With its patronage, KANUPP Institute of nuclear Power Engineering is developing human resource in the field of nuclear power technology for which it provides education and training to the scientists, engineers and technicians. The Institute is also affiliated with the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, for the award of masters in engineering (ME) in nuclear power engineering. Basically, it offers three academic programs every year: Master of Engineering in Nuclear power; Post Graduate Training Program; and Post Diploma Training Program.
Dispelling the general impression that radiation emitted from fission process may be fatal for living creatures, he said, at KANUPP we are fully conversant of the fact and conscious of eliminating after effects on nearby environment. General public and environmentalists have some concerns about the release of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and its impacts. Although the waste is a part of everyday life, an inevitable result of today's high technology and consumer-led society, but the nuclear power plants are inherently environment-friendly as they produce little waste which can easily be managed. The records of waste management at KANUPP have been particularly satisfactory and we are determined to manage the wastes to the highest possible standards.
Since radioactive wastage appears in solid, liquid and gaseous forms, it has already waste management plan to minimize the production of waste and to ensure that wastage is managed in full and complete accordance with both recommendations of International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), and also with good environmental practice. Solid waste and resins are stored within plant site in adequately shielded places. Over 99% of the radioactive substances produced in the reactor remain entrapped inside the fuel. Used nuclear fuel discharged to-date is stored in water-filled bays - a safe arrangement for storage. The fuel bay would suffice for the entire operating life of the plant. Liquid waste is disposed after chemical and radiological analysis. It is discharged after diluting into huge volume of turbine and process cooling water outlet. A round the clock monitoring system is also employed to terminate the flow if the activity exceeds the acceptable limits. Gaseous wastes are passed through high efficiency filters before discharge. On line monitors are also installed on the stack to measure the activity released to the atmosphere.
In addition to protect environment, detectors have been installed around KANUPP and in the city. In addition, samples of vegetables, grass, soil, water, fish and milk are regularly analysed to measure their radioactivity content. Radioactive emission to the environment throughout its operational history has remained below 4% of the maximum permissible limit.
DG KNPC is supportive to the doctrine of producing energy through consuming uranium. As, he said it is comparatively a cheapest source of producing electricity. In the wake of back-lashing price hike of oil world over, nuclear energy would give competitive substitute.
Operating a nuclear power plant without vendor support and negligible industrial resources within the country was a big challenge. Which is why, he has been recognized for keeping on operation at plant after 70s stringent sanction. Resulted in resilience, sanction gave a way to embarking on a path of self-reliant programme. Tremendous efforts were made to mobilize the local resources and establish in-house facilities necessary to support plant operation. Following divisions were created within the plant to achieve the objective of self-reliance: Computer Development Division for long term solution of computing control and instrumentation problems; Mechanical Design & Development Division for local design and manufacture of precision and custom made mechanical components; Control and Instrumentation Application Laboratory for in-house dynamic verification of pressure, temperature, flow and level instruments under plant conditions; In-Plant Training Centre for providing advanced training to engineers and technicians leading to operating license for the plant. And, other modules to enhance efficacy of plant were established.
KANUPP's role in the country has been much more than operating a power plant. It has helped scientists, engineers and technicians of PAEC to gain valuable experience in the sophisticated field of nuclear power technology and related disciplines.