IGCAR develops radiation shield for nuclear plants

Scientist and Director of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), S C Chetal on Wednesday said the centre has developed “ferro bora,” a new, low-cost material that shields ionizing radiation in nuclear power reactors.

Inaugurating the 19th national symposium on Radiation Physics at Mamallapuram near here, he said the new material will improve the radiation shielding mechanism in the nuclear reactors. “Radiation physics has become an indispensable part of modern science and has wide applications in medicine, agriculture, industry, food processing etc,” he added.

Seeking to dispel wrong notions about radiation, he said disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima have created fear-psychosis among people and the word radiation has become synonymous with fear. He said in several places in Kerala, exposure to radiation is “far higher than what we allow in Nuclear power plants”. He said “over estimating the damage by radiation could be more damaging”  to the people’s psyche.

Expressing concern over the continued opposition to Kudankulam Nuclear power station, he said: “It is this unfounded fear plus misinformation about radiation that is responsible for anti-nuclear movements worldwide.”

The IGCAR chief also regretted that a wrong impression has been created among the people that “scientific experts are tools of the nuclear industry.” “Let us not be over-conservative in our radiation regulations as such an approach is more a liability than an asset,” he urged.

Prabhat Kumar, Chairman and MD of “Bhavini,” the special purpose vehicle used in building second generation 500 mw prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, said while existing designs of all the Nuclear reactors in India ensure that most radioactive materials were “contained”, efforts were on to see “how not to allow the radioactive tritium from coming out with the heavy water”.

“It is possible to filter out all radioactive particles that could affect the human body and see they are contained within the reactor itself,” Prabhat Kumar assured.

Public hearing

Bhavini chairman Prabhat Kumar and IGCAR director SC Chetal said they will hold “public hearing” in the next two to three months, for putting up two 500 mw commercial fast breeder reactors at Kalpakkam. The twin-units of very advanced design and using liquid sodium as coolant, will share some common facilities to help cut costs, they said. Chetal said even if the capital costs of the planned Nuclear park at Jaitapur was high, the unit cost of electricity will not be high. As the Centre is holding talks, nothing has been finalised, he added.

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