Sites in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are on the radar for setting up a third nuclear fuel fabrication facility to meet requirements of nuclear power reactors, even as the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ approval for the second unit at Kota, Rajasthan is awaited.
The site selection committee of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) visited Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and few other places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to find a suitable site for what will be the biggest nuclear fuel fabrication facility, with an envisaged production of 1,250 tonnes a year.
The Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) in Hyderabad is currently meeting the fuel requirements of 20 nuclear reactors which have an installed capacity of 4,780 MW. Of them, 18 are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) and two are Boiling Water Reactors.
NFC chief executive N. Sai Baba told The Hindu here on Monday that the NFC produced 812 tonnes of fabricated fuel — the highest ever — in 2012-13 and was aiming for an output of 900 tonnes this year. He said the Kota facility, with an investment of Rs. 1,600 crore, was envisaged to produce 500 tonnes per year and expected to be operational by 2017.
Four PHWR units of 700 MW each — the third and fourth units of Kakrapar (Gujarat) and seventh and eighth units of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station — are under construction and expected to go on stream in the next few years. By 2020, a total of 2,000 tonnes of fuel would be required by various reactors and the NFC was gearing up to meet the needs, Mr. Sai Baba said.
Import of raw material
At present, 60 per cent of the raw material for nuclear fuel is being met indigenously and the rest imported mainly from Russia and Kazakhstan. The DAE is looking for more vendors from countries such as Uzbekistan and Namibia.
Mr. Sai Baba said the NFC had achieved a good recovery from the first consignment of uranium ore concentrate received from the Tummalapalle uranium mine and the processing plant located in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. Of the estimated 1.5 lakh tonnes of uranium reserves identified in the country, 72,000 tonnesare from Tummalapalle. Another one lakh tonnes were expected from this place as only 10 km area of the total 35 km had been explored so far.
Besides the four upcoming PHWRs, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is building 10 more 700 MW reactors for commissioning between 2020 and 2022.