Kalpakkam is a small town in Tamil Nadu, India, situated on the Coromandel Coast 70 kilometres south of Chennai. A conglomerate of two villages (Puduppattinam and Sadurangappatinam) and a DAE township, it is about 55 kilometres (34 mt) from Thiruvanmiyur and 85 kilometres (53 mt) from Pondicherry. Kalpakkam is mostly famous for its nuclear plants and affiliated research installations. These include the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), one of India's nuclear power plants, and the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), an affiliate of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
Due to increasing congestion in Kalpakkam arising from the need to accommodate more employees, a new township of Anupuram/Amaipakkam, 8 kilometres (5.0 mt) from Kalpakkam, was inaugurated in 1998. The tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake generated widespread damage and resulted in 200 deaths at Kalpakkam. There is a tsunami memorial.
Kalpakkam is a well built and planned township. The schools present in the township are Atomic Energy Central School (AECS 1 and 2), Kendriya Vidyalaya-1, Kendriya Vidyalaya-2, Govt Hr. Secondary School and Infant Jesus Matric Hr. Sec. School on Pudupattinam. The township is split into two sides: the Sadras and Pudupattinam sides. Often there is a healthy rivalry in sports and in other activities between the two sides. Both sides have similar facilities, but Pudupattinam has more complete and bigger facilities, such as the hospital and the General Services Organization (GSO). The two sides are separated by two bridges over the canal which joins the sea nearby and well over the backwater with thousands of jellyfish moving underneath. Also, the backwater is a visiting place by many migratory birds especially the rarely seen Siberian Crane in the depths of winter. The backwater can be clearly seen through the compound walls of K.V-2 in Sadras.
Madras Atomic Power Station is located at Kalpakkam. It is a comprehensive nuclear power production, fuel reprocessing, and waste treatment facility that includes plutonium fuel fabrication for fast breeder reactors (FBRs). It is also India's first fully indigenously constructed nuclear power station. It has two units of 220 MWe capacity each. The first and second units of the station went critical in 1983 and 1985 respectively. The station has reactors housed in a reactor building with double shell containment ensuring total protection even in the remotest possibility of loss of coolant accident. An Interim Storage Facility [ISF] is also located in Kalpakkam.
In 2012, the Department of Atomic Energy for the first time admitted that the deaths of some employees and their dependents at the Kalpakkam nuclear site were caused by multiple myeloma, a rare form of bone marrow cancer linked to nuclear radiation. The DAE acknowledged that nine people, including three employees working at the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam, died of multiple myeloma and bone cancer between 1995 and 2011. This information came to light in response to a Right to Information (RTI) inquiry from October 2011. The DAE had previously stonewalled all previous requests for information.
Until a few years ago, the beach at Kalpakkam used to be lined with casuarina trees and only a few weeds. Nowadays, to avoid the widespread damage in case of a tsunami again, weed growth is starting to dominate, which the locals are fighting to keep in check. Also, a tsunami wall has been built across the seashore in case of another tsunami. The relatively calm waters are free of sharks. Kalpakkam is also very close to Mamallapuram – one of the famous tourist destinations near Chennai. The environment within the township has been maintained for over 30 years. The township contains numerous trees and various parks, and various outlets for recreation, including tennis courts, music, dance, swimming academies and other sport activities.
NESCO (Nuclear Employee Sports and Cultural Organisation), previously KRC (Kalpakkam Recreation Centre) is governed by an elected employee council. It offers various facilities for members: Movies, Basketball, Volleyball, Football, Badminton, Carrom, Chess, Table Tennis and a Gym. There is also a tennis court and Swimming pool where competitions are held annually.