India on Wednesday drew a robust roadmap for its global partners in the field of nuclear energy on how to minimise high level radioactive wastes that could be hazardous in the future.
Closed fuel cycle, Thorium fuel cycle, minor actinide partition and recovery of fission products-- are some of the ingredients of the path that India proposed at the International Atomic Energy Agency Scientific Forum which deliberated on how to meet the challenge oif radioactive waste in the coming years.
Piaray Kishan Wattal, director of the nuclear recycle group at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC) spelt out briefly how these efforts could go a long way in devising a sustainable solution.
"The Indian policy of using a closed nuclear fuel cycle ascertains better utilisation of nuclear resources and minimises the quantity of nuclear waste," he said adding, "Thorium cycle entails better stability in geological repository. Thorium is a solution but technology demonstration has to be done. Thorium is more stable and fuel can stand a higher temperature but processing is a little difficuct as compared to uranium."
The commissioning of Actinide Separation Demonstration Facility of BARC at Tarapur, he said has made India to be one of the two advanced nuclear countries who could demonstrate separation of minor actinides from the high level waste.
"Partioning will reduce the volume that will go to the geological repository. It will go a long way in reducing the life of radiocative waste from around 1000 years to around 300 years. It will also reduce the volume of high level waste that warrants a long term storage."
Referring to another procedure he said removal of highly radioactive Caesium -137 and its conversion to vitrified pencil sources, usable for blood irradiator and low dose rate radiation applications he said "Removal of actinides and Caesium137 addresses several technical issues on the storage of high level waste in a sustainable manner."
(The journalist is on a trip to Vienna sponsored by IAEA)