Kalpakkam re-processing facility awaits cabinet nod

Chennai, June 28 (IANS) Work on the country's first fast reactor fuel cycle facility (FRFCF) or fuel reprocessing facility at Kalpakkam is awaiting the union cabinet's nod, said a top official Friday.

"The decision awaits the cabinet's nod. The facility is designed to cater for the upcoming 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR). The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the department (of atomic energy) have approved the project," P.R.Vasudeva Rao, director of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), told IANS.

According to Rao, the project - with little augmentation - can also cater to the needs of two more fast breeder reactors of similar nature that are being planned at Kalpakkam, around 70 km from here.

A fast-breeder reactor is one which breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes. It is the key to India's three-stage nuclear power programme.

Rao said for the fuel cycle facility to come into action, the reactor should be in operation for sometime.

The PFBR which is under construction is designed by IGCAR and is expected to go on stream sometime next year.

"The PFBR uses plutonium-based fuel which is an important resource for the country and cannot be wasted. The fuel has to be re-processed and put back into the reactor. It is a high value project and has to be done on time so that PFBR is not constrained for fuel," Rao remarked.

Queried whether the FRFCF would come under IGCAR, Rao said the decision rests on the government.

"It may be a separate board as many units of the department of atomic energy will be involved in the project. The Nuclear Fuel Complex and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) are involved in some portions of the proposed project. IGCAR will be responsible for the project," Rao said.

He said the fuel cycle facility, that might employ around 1,500 people, will come into fruition four or five years later but the initial years will be crucial.


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