India looking to buy 6 Westinghouse nuclear reactors: report

India is expected to sign a deal with Westinghouse Electric Co LLC to build six nuclear reactors in the first half of next year, as the country bolsters its nuclear capability and reduce dependence on polluting coal, reports quoting official sources said today.

According to a Reuters report, the proposed power plant, to be set up in Gujarat, in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, will kick off India's $150-billion plan to build roughly 60 reactors, which would make it the world's second-biggest nuclear energy market after China.

The development follows India's signing of a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan during Prime minster Abe's visit early this month.

India already has a similar pact with the United States and the pact with Japan will accelerate the process of acquiring Westinghouse's modern nuclear reactors, the report pointed out.

US-based nuclear power equipment makers Westinghouse is majority owned by Japan's Toshiba and any nuclear deal involving the company would require consent from both the US and Japan.

The civil nuclear cooperation pact with Japan comes seven years after India signed the first such pact with US in 2008, which opened the way for nuclear trade that had previously been banned after New Delhi tested a nuclear device and refused to blindly sign a Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

India has targeted nuclear power capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032, against 5,780 MW at present, as it looks for greener sources of energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions that endanger the environment.

India also amended rules to limit responsibility for suppliers in case of accidents at nuclear reactors, thereby helping to save billions for foreign suppliers.

India will also set up an insurance pool with a liability cap of Rs1,500 crore ($226.16 million).

Meanwhile, government officials said the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) is expected within weeks.

The CSC requires signatories to shift liability to the operator and offers access to relief funds.

In a statement, Westinghouse said it expected India would move towards a framework that satisfies the CSC and channels accident liability exclusively to the operator. The statement made no reference to ongoing negotiations.

A deal with Westinghouse, a unit of Toshiba Corp, could also put pressure on General Electric Co, whose nuclear energy venture with Hitachi (6501.T) was offered a site six years ago to build reactors.

GE has still not decided whether it would move ahead with the plan, the official said, adding that India was keen for a decision from the company soon.

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy said it had strong interest in India, and that the CSC would be "a sustainable solution to concerns about India's existing domestic nuclear liability law".

Westinghouse Electric Company LLC on Monday announced that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has completed an acceptance review of the company's Specialized Seismic Option developed for offering with AP1000 nuclear power plants. This step will allow the NRC to begin the in-depth review required prior to issuing the formal Safety Evaluation report.

''The NRC's acceptance review of the Specialized Seismic Option is an important step forward with our plans to bring AP1000 plants to more locations across the globe,'' said Jeff Benjamin, Westinghouse senior vice president, New Plants and Major Projects. ''This option will allow people living in areas with higher seismic activity to benefit from the carbon-free energy produced from our safe and reliable technology.''

Westinghouse developed the Specialised Seismic Option for use in locations with seismic levels similar to those typical of certain portions of the western United States and other global markets, and submitted the license application to the NRC in September.

Westinghouse and Toshiba Corporation are working collaboratively on a limited number of customised materials and/or reinforcements that will allow new units to be built in areas that have a higher seismic condition. This Specialised Seismic Option will provide the same advanced safety features, modular design and simplified systems as the standard, NRC-certified AP1000 plant technology.

Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation, is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world.