The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea to close the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district until a facility is built to safely store its spent radioactive fuel, PTI reported.

The apex court then directed the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd to set up the “Away From Reactor Facility” to store spent nuclear fuel by April 2022. The court made it clear that the deadline will not be extended any further.

The court had granted NPCIL time till May 30 to build the facility. The corporation filed an application before the Supreme Court in February seeking another five years’ time to build the facility.

A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said public interest necessitates the court to agree to the corporation’s request for more time to construct the Away From Reactor Facility, according to The Hindu.

The court asked the petitioner, advocate Prashant Bhushan, to file an independent application and not mix the issue with the corporation’s current plea for extension of time. Bhushan argued that the continued operation of the nuclear plant without a “deep underground repository” to store radioactive spent fuel is an invitation to a catastrophe.

The Kudankulam nuclear plant project was announced in 2002 and was supposed to produce electricity by 2007. The reactor, however, began functioning only in 2012. As per official data, in 2014, the plant functioned for only half the potential hours it could have clocked up. Between April 2015 and January 2016, the plant worked at only 20% of its capacity.