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Nuclear power plants to get new lease of life: Kakodkar

skjain-kakodakarThe inaugural units of India’s first nuclear power plant, Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS), completed 40 years of successful generation of electricity from nuclear energy power on 1st April, 2009 and is still going strong running at 100 per cent capacity.

The station has generated more than 77 billion units of electricity so far, and is supplying it to Maharashtra and Gujarat at a tariff 94 paise per unit.

It was on April 1, 1969, that the two reactors of 160 MW each Boiling Water Reactors built by US power major General Electric (GE) on a turn-key basis at Tarapur, 120 km from here, were synchronised to the grid.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a public sector undertaking of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) will be felicitated those engineers who were responsible for synchronising the plants to the grid at a function in Tarapur, recently.

The country’s fuel-starved nuclear reactors will get a fresh lease of life with the arrival of imported natural uranium and improvement in indigenous production of the mineral, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar has said recently in Tarapur, Maharastra.

The Department of Atomic Energy expects an increase in production of uranium by 25 per cent from Jaduguda and Turamdih mills by the end of this year, he said at a function here to commemorate 40 years of nuclear electricity in India.

India has received the first consignment of 60 tonnes of uranium from France for use as fuel to power its reactors following a clearance by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. The uranium ore would be processed at the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) at Hyderabad for use in safeguarded pressurized heavy water reactors (PHEWS).

Kakodkar said that the expansion of NFC is going on to augment the fabrication of uranium fuel to make it available for the reactors.

“There has been a mismatch of uranium in the country but efforts are on to reduce the mismatch of fuel”, he said.

Speaking at the same function, Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) Chairman S. K. Jain said four new ‘VVER-type’ nuclear reactors of 1,000 MW capacity each will be set up in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu in addition to two 1,000 MW reactors which are already being constructed there, after India finalizes a deal on it with Russia in June this year.

“India and Russia have already signed other enabling accords like agreements on sharing of information and it is only the techno-commercial offer that has to be finalized and we expect it to be completed by June,” he said.

The first two units of 1,000 MW reactors, which are under advanced stages of construction, will be completed during the course of this year, Jain said.

Answering on how long it will take for NPCIL to get the foreign reactors since the Indo-US deal was signed in last October, Jain said that after the inter-governmental deal was finalized with the US, India could not immediately go for nuclear commerce with Nuclear Suppliers Group as there were several important steps to be carried out before the final commerce took place.

The steps included discussions on technical details, financial aspects, transportation, manufacturing of equipment and safety, he said.