Decks clear for new N-deals

Reprocessing of spent fuel in a safeguarded domain to be done: AEC


 Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Sreekumar Banerjee said here on Monday that India, under the 123 Agreement for civil nuclear power cooperation with the US, has obtained an important “upfront right” for reprocessing spent fuel of nuclear reactors.
The commercial phase will move rapidly once “how reprocessing of spent fuel in a safeguarded domain will be done” is  sorted out, Dr Banerjee said.

123 Agreement
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 20th Annual Conference of the Indian Nuclear Society (INSAC), co-organised by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, near here, Dr Banerjee said the 123 Agreement is no longer the issue.
 It is now a question of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) finalising “commercial deals” with some of the US suppliers (of nuclear power reactors). In the post-agreement context, already Koodangulam in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, where two 1,000 MW light water reactors are being built with Russian assistance, will have two more reactors, besides the Centre entering into some “inter-Government Agreements” with France and Russia, he said.

Even company-to-company dialogue with the US and French companies has begun, but commercial agreements will be clinched soon after the reprocessing mode was agreed upon. The first 1,000 MW unit at Koodangulam is expected to go critical by mid-2010, he said.

It is “very important” to increase the nuclear power content in the overall power generation mix from the present 4,000 MW level to 60,000 MW (which would be nearly 10 per cent of the total mix) by the year 2035 as fossil fuels availability reduced and amid concerns of global warming.
India has already started to import some quantities of Uranium from Russia and France.

BARC fire

It was “extremely unfortunate” to lose two of our young nuclear scientists in the recent fire at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), he said.  Apart from the forensic side investigation, two groups of BARC, one of very competent specialists and the other conventional Fire Prevention and Safety Committee are both probing the cause of the fire.

On the other recent but unrelated accident at the Kaiga Atomic power station in Karnataka, wherein some heavy water was infused into a water cooler there, Dr Banerjee said the police investigation is going on. It was a “deliberate, criminal act, but so far we have not identified the culprit,” the AEC chief added.
DH News Service

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