The country’s indigenous nuclear programme achieved a milestone on Friday morning when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh activated a switch and commissioned the power reprocessing plant that has a capacity of 100 tonnes at Tarapur.
The second power reactor reprocessing plant at Tarapur, nearly 100km from Mumbai, began chopping the first bundle of spent uranium fuel rods at 10.25am.
So far, the only nuclear spent fuel reprocessing plant at Tarapur had a capacity of just 10 tonnes. The increased reprocessing capacity will boost the country’s indigenous nuclear programmes.
Singh said the advanced status of India’s programme and capabilities of scientists and engineers has prepared the country for something bigger. “We can now confidently utilise the new opportunities that have been created with the opening up of international cooperation in the field of nuclear energy,” Singh said.
The new plant is the country’s third power reactor reprocessing plant and the second at Tarapur. There is one at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu.
The indigenously designed plant gives a fillip to India’s three-stage nuclear programme – for transition from the second stage of fast breeder reactors to the third stage using thorium in advanced reactors.
“Reprocessing spent fuel will also ensure that we are better able to manage the waste, which are by-products of the nuclear fuel cycle,” Singh said.
Atomic Energy Commission chairperson, Srikumar Banerjee, said, “This modern reprocessing plant has been designed with utmost care for safety, effluent management, serviceability and uninterrupted production.”
Another reprocessing plant is under construction at Kalpakkam and is expected to be commissioned in 2013. The Department of Atomic Energy recently constituted the Nuclear Recycle Board to facilitate growth in reprocessing activities.